02 February 2010

Spam in Garlic

I mentioned Thomas Tallis's Spem in Alium in a previous post. As I said:
there is a cartoon where the person is saying "Not many people pirate CDs of Buxtehude" (although I did hear that Tallis's Spem in Alium was pirated as Spam in Allium, or Spam in Garlic in translation--not sure if that was a joke or not after this reference).

The reference in question is this:
let me explain that, although Spem in Alium (Processed ham in garlic) is written for 40 voices, and New College has only 33 singers, they do, for this one item, call in the reserves - another 7 voices.

Which has me wondering: what is the origins of this anecdote? I searched the Internet to learn its genesis, but came up with comments such as these:
...or "Spam in Allium" ("Spam in garlic"), as it once appeared printed in the Radio Times.

No, the magazine in question that I mentioned was a specialty hi-fi mag (Hi-Fi News or Hi-Fi Choice), not Radio Times.

#167 ::: Dan Layman-Kennedy ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2005, 09:41 PM:

If I ever open up one of those fancy sandwich shops where the sandwiches are all named after someone, one of the featured items will be processed canned pork product served with sliced onions, garlic and leeks.
I'm calling it the Thomas Tallis.
*ducks, runs*

#169 ::: Karl T. ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2005, 10:38 PM:

Lucy, one of Mr Tallis's most famous compositions is a 40-part motet known as Spem in Alium (Latin for "hope in others.")
I suspect that Dan was making a Spam/Spem pun, with the addition of some sort of a pun on "alium" in the Latin name for the vegetables involved.
Many apologies if this explanation ruins the joke for anyone else.
Dan, the pun was good/bad enough to make me wince, if that's your preferred form of applause.

So, still no idea, perhaps a musicologist will set me straight on the origin of Spam in Garlic. Until that time, I am afraid that the origin of this musical in-joke will remain a mystery.

This Monty Python sketch is a bit cliche, but apropos:

Monty Python - Spam
Uploaded by beautifulcynic. - Watch more comedy videos and sitcoms.

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