When I was child, I never really thought of vanilla as a flavour. Chocolate, strawberry and triple swirl were all obviously real flavours, but vanilla wasn't really. It didn't even have a colour. It's just the flavour of ice cream you use when you don't want to be too distracted from the main event, as when eating apple pie.
For a long time I used to think of the piano like a bit like vanilla ice cream. Sure it's fine in its place, but it's just the default instrument. I'm not sure why anyone would choose it over, say, chocolate---er, I mean, the cello.
But one day I realized that vanilla was more than just the absence of flavour, and that it actually was a pretty good flavour, and how exactly was it to blame if it went so well with everything, and if you don't mind I might just have some vanilla ice cream by itself thank you very much. Likewise, I'm starting to enjoy to listening to the piano for its own sake.
Well, a little. One of my favourite pieces of music is Brahms' Cello Sonata in E Minor. During the last few listens my focus has moved away from the cello and toward the play between the cello and the piano. The dark, strong, forceful line of the cello is the espresso that is both cut and complemented by the (wait for it) vanilla ice cream of the piano. Molto affogato.
I don't know why I like that piece so much. I only picked it up because another piece on the disc is mentioned a lot in The Fionavar Tapestry and I wanted to know what it sounded like. I don't like the books quite so much any more -- pick your ice cream metaphor of choice -- but I was entranced by them at the time, and perhaps that enchantment carried over, and when I listen to the sonatas on the album a part of me hears an echo of Pwyll and Loren and the rest.
Meh. It's just really good music.