Sunday, March 22, 2009

Musical Etiquette: Dinner Music

Dear Musical Etiquette:

Recently I was invited to a semi-formal dinner party by a co-worker. Everything went off without a hitch but the music he played was too loud and abrasive. How do I let him know that it wasn't appropriate? What kind of music should I recommend?

Signed, XXXXXX

Critiquing a host's dinner music is a delicate situation. Often times your host has put a considerable amount of time into the selection of music for the evening. As we know all too well, the correct music is as important a part of the atmosphere as the place setting, the lighting and the food itself. If you find that your dinner host has selected music that does not fit the atmosphere of the party, and you know your host quite well, then it is best to mention it discretely when the opportunity arises. In the case of an unfamiliar host or a formal dinner party, the thank-you note is considered the polite way of voicing your concerns.

A well written thank-you note can do wonders for your social standing. There are a few things to keep in mind. You are a guest, so it is upon you to thank your host for their time and effort. It is also upon you to not waste their time. A thank-you not should be short without being terse and as formal as the situation demands. Any criticisms of the party should be mild and couched in pleasantries. I have included a letter from a recent dinner with an acquaintance to guide your hand should the demand arise.


I'd first like to extend my thanks to you and your wife for inviting me to your dinner party last weekend. Rarely am i presented with such excellent company and stellar food at the same time. The orange glaze on the duck made every sense I posses dance with such fervor that I find myself reliving the experience over and over in my mind even now. The ethereal beauty of the table setting and your lovely abode likewise remain etched forevermore in my mind. Bravo to you and yours good sir, Bravo indeed.

There is, however, a small matter that may be worth your attention. Now I think we all like Too Short, he is an MC of unparalleled skill and wit. I did find it difficult to discuss the easement of import restrictions with the Minister of Foreign Affairs while the stereo was bumpin' and I'm not certain that a litany of sexual references are appropriate for hors d'oeuvres. In much the same way I did not find your blend of Deicide, Animal Collective, Wagner and Brittany Spears for the main course to be in sync with the airy and light ambiance of the party. Perhaps Enoch Light, Terry Snyder or a collection Satie piano pieces would complement your next dinner party better. I would have mentioned it at the time, but I did not wish to seem an ungrateful guest.

It is a small matter, of course, I would be delighted to attend any future gatherings you host and look forward to our continuing acquaintance.

Eriq Nelson

I hope this advice sees you through the difficult act of critiquing a hosts dinner music. If you need to make recommendations, remember to keep them light and common. Dinner music is a background, it should not challenge the ear. The excitement should come from conversation and food and serve to complement them both rather than drown them out.

Until we meet again,
Eriq Nelson

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1 comment:

Amber Dawn said...

what about slamming your hands over your ears, yelling "gah, this sucks" and running out the door?