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Chronicle of the NonPop Revolution


 
The Essay
Show #35
Pistonitis, Nonanemia and Duparcosis
David Gunn
The customary "bon radio" greeting is temporarily undergoing semantic enhancement and will not be extended on today's show. The phrase was recently deemed linguistically frivolous by a panel of vernacular scholars, so Kalvos & Damian have ordered it back to the etymological drawing board for dialectic retrofitting. We hope to have a new improved version in operation by next week. In the meantime, "modo vincis, modo vinceris."

The International Classification of Musical Diseases categorizes Pistonitis as "a work with academic roots which favors harmonic craftsmanship to the exclusion of all else, especially humor." The first documented outbreak of Pistonitis occurred in 1925 while the easily corruptable lad for whom it was named was studying compositional technique with the famous 20th century gymnastician, Nadia Boulanger. Piston surprised his teacher on her 38th birthday with a choral fugue, in which he spelled the name "Nadia" in 11 different modes. Unfortunately, the tune contained one four-note phrase of parallel fifths, a device anathema to the exacting educator. Angrily, she ripped the composition to shreds, grabbed the startled lad's head in a viselike grip thereafter known as le flambeau oriange, and squeezed until warm bodily fluids oozed from his nose and ears. Afterwards, the contrite composer was never again to stretch the limits of classic contrapuntal good taste.

Another musical disease, nonanemia, derives from the late burly Russian composer Alexsandr Tcherepnin's experiments with a nine-tone scale. Tcherepnin previously had attempted to extend the good taste boundaries of 12-tone serialism, but concluded that he simply had three notes too many to work with. Further empirical studies led him to the notion of a nine-tone scale, a concept that was widely rejected when it was learned that Tcherepnin's nine tones were all the same tone. The disease can currently be heard running rampant in works by Philip Glass.

The final disease to be discussed today on Kalvos & Damian's New Music Sesquihour Expansive is Duparcosis, or "the urge to destroy compositions of an embarrassing nature." Henri Duparc, born 148 years ago tomorrow, and unwilling to appear on today's program, studied music theory with a famous French composer who, if I mentioned his name, you'd recognize in an instant. One day in 1887, Duparc was lobbing sand crabs at unsuspecting tourists on the French Riviera when one of the crabs turned around and bit him, and he experienced a kind of arthropodic epiphany. Immediately he destroyed all of his extant compositions and moved to Paris, where he gave birth to Nadia Boulanger. The disease has been impossible to eradicate, and appears most often in composers who, at one time or another in their careers, sold out ... and I don't mean to a standing room audience.

Tune in again for further adventures in the International Classification of Musical Diseases on Kalvos & Damian's New Music Sesquihour, this portion of which is brought to you in a molecularly homogenized pre-listened format, so you need not pay close attention, as someone has already done it for you! You're welcome!

The music in the background is a birthday medley tribute to famous composers Janis Joplin, Maxwell Roach, Dolly Parton, Leadbelly Ledbetter, the reconstructed Henri Duparc, as well as the theme Karl Flying Wallenda was said to be screaming during his final 10-story descent into a San Juan, Puerto Rico concrete abutment.

And now, if there are no further questions, let us posthaste descend a bit more to the incontrovertibly aleatoric realm of Kalvo.