Is this the oldest viola joke in the world?

There is a joke (if you can call it that) which says the viola (or the sound of the viola, or maybe the people who play the viola - who knows?) is very cold.

Well, it's not really a joke as such because there's no punch line, nor is there any explanation as to why this state should be - it is presupposing that that is what violas are and thus the effect, notwithstanding the absence of cause, is that being synonymous with cold makes them funny. Call me dull, but I just don't get it.

I have never discovered the origin of the joke or, indeed, an explanation. However, I have found that it is universal; wherever you go on this planet, that is what you will find.

There are many viola jokes, even some quite funny ones, but I suspect that this is one of the oldest. So, if Absolute Zero is as cold as it is possible to be then it's a fitting name for a viola quartet - I like it, I think I shall write them some music.

From the memoirs of Sancho Engaño - composer. Translated by Alison Thomas - Manager, Absolute Zero Viola Quartet

Spot the odd-one-out


Should you wish to pursue this sordid topic further, there are a number of websites devoted to just this subject. Try: 

To all those scholars out there, here is something that may be of interest: A sample exam paper from the Royal College of Conducting. See if you have what it takes to be a great Maestro!


Conductors & Conducting Magazine



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