Why I Hate O Fortuna

1. So melodramatic. Like, take a chill pill and get over yourself, dude, srsly. ‘-_-

Volume doesn’t make music sound dramatic, complexity makes music sound dramatic. That’s why Bach’s counterpoint is always so exciting.

This piece simultaneously makes less effort to sound dramatic than “O Fortuna,” and ends up actually sounding more dramatic than “O Fortuna.”

2. The melody is simple, repetitive, and boring.


Look, even on paper you can tell it’s boring. In terms of interest and complexity, this is on a level with the melodies they teach first graders on the recorder.


Correct accents (acute (normal accent) = primary, grave (backwards accent) = secondary):

Ó fortúna,
vélut lúna
státu vàriábilis,
sémper créscis
àut decréscis;
víta dètestábilis
núnc obdúrat
èt tunc cúrat
lúdo méntis áciem,
dìssolvìt ut gláciem

“O Fortuna” accents:

Ó fortúna,
vélut lúna
státu vàriàbilíiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiis,

sempér crescís
aut décrescìs;
vitá detèstabílis
nunc óbduràt
et túnc curát
ludó mentís acíem,
dissólvit ut glacíem

The first three lines, “O fortuna, / velut luna, / statu variabilis,” are actually accented on the right syllables, but everything after that is accented where it shouldn’t be and vice versa. Ironically, the one place after the first few lines where “O Fortuna” accents the correct syllable (viz. on the word “dissolvit”) happens to be the one place where the original poem places the accents on the wrong syllables metri gratia.

Now, there is actually a perfectly simple explanation for this. There are two types of duple meters (meters based on units of two beats), trochaic and iambic. Trochaic meters accent the first of each group of two syllables, whereas iambic meters accent the second of each group of two syllables. “O Fortuna” takes a poem with a trochaic meter and sets it to an iambic melody, hence the accents being out of whack. Which raises the question:

Why would you do that??

All it does is sound irritating. I mean, it’s not as though the melody is so great that it’s worth butchering the words to sing it or anything, so…