To face the music is to brave the unpleasant consequences of your actions. There are several theories about the origin of this phrase. A common assertion is that ‘face the music’ originated from the tradition of disgraced officers being drummed out of their regiment. A second popular theory is that it may derive from the stage, when an actor faces the orchestra pit.
If something is music to your ears it is very pleasant to discover or it is hearing what you want to hear. To play by ear is to handle a situation in an impromptu manner. It first referred to playing music without reading printed notation and was recorded in an 1839 edition of The Edinburgh Review, which said “Miss Austen is like one who plays by ear, while Miss Martineau understands the science”.
To play second fiddle means to be out of the spotlight, getting little recognition. In an orchestra, the first violins play the melody, while the second violins play the harmony, which is easier to play. To blow your own trumpet is to boast about your own talents or achievements. The phrase probably alludes to heralds who would deliver public announcements with a flourish of trumpets. They must have been boasting back in the biblical days. In the King James Version of the Bible Jesus warns his followers against blowing their own trumpet: “When thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets”.
To strike a chord means to create an emotional response that evokes sympathy or enthusiasm. To change your tune is to change your opinion on something or your attitude towards someone. To buy or sell something for a song is at a very cheap rate and if you make a song and dance about something you make a big fuss.
We hope our crosswords in this issue strike the right note with you.