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The Essay
Show #52
Accordioned Feng-Shui
David Gunn
One question which frequently causes the lips of our listeners to pucker and leak vital oral fluids is, "What is an accordion?" and "When can I hear one?&auot; -- which is, of course, two questions, but the laws of theoretical fundamental inquiry rarely apply on the New Music Sesquihour, so no matter.

An accordion is a thermonuclear musical instrument with pleated bellows that closely resembles the Honda motorcar after which it was named. With the optional keyboard and portable metal reeds, it can produce a sound not unlike the ruminations of thousands of congested sand fleas. In the hands of the properly trained individual, however, it also has many destructive capabilities. For centuries, martial artists have revered the accordion as a weapon, to be used in only the highest form of sonic ritual. Brown belt akaido mavens traditionally serenade their opponents with them while performing feng-shui, or, "the worst plucked parts of the crow." In 14th century Tibet, the great monk Zanamuse, purporting to experiment with his mantra, played "Lady of Spain" on his accordion for 182 continuous hours, until the device was confiscated by lamasary police. One of the loudest 20th century instrumental compositions, "Le flambeau oriange," scored for 80 amplified accordions, premiered 16 years ago today atop Mount Tumwater, a remote mountain peak in southwest Washington state. Shortly after the opening chord was sounded, discombobulating subterraneous subduction forces caused a formerly dormant volcano a dozen miles to the south, Mount Saint Helens, to spew hot lava and create a new national monument. The composer, sad to say, had selected that very site to listen to the performance, and he vanished just as a thriving tourist industry was born. Here now is an excerpt from Le flambeau oriange. (accordion excerpt)

Music for 80 amplified accordions 12 miles from Mount Saint Helens in 1980 by -- well, we just don't know. Later on today's show, and live from Studio Z, we'll be treated to more accordion music by a famous composer who, if I mentioned her name, you'd recognize in an instant. And have no fear. In laboratory tests from around the world, no one has ever spewed lava, been attacked by crows, or bought a car while in the presence of a single accordion.

To paraphrase a recently received letter, "This episode of Kalvos & Damian's New Music Sesquihour, the 52nd, is being broadcast today for good luck. The signal has been around the world nine times. You, our listening audient, will receive good luck within four days of hearing this broadcast. Please record it and send it on to 20 other people; do not send money or anything but the broadcast. Please send it five days after receiving it. Many people have received large sums of money after sending it on. It works. Signed, St. Jude." We would only add that you may send large sums of money to Kalvos & Damian here at the Sesquistudios, and in return we will not celebrate the 166th birthday of Karl Goldmark today, whose music has not infrequently been compared to "the worst plucked parts of the crow." We would only further add that Anne Boleyn, Henry VIII's second wife, received this message 460 years ago, ignored it, and was subsequently beheaded. Just don't say we didn't warn you.

And speaking of warm, Studio Z is really heating up now, with thermonuclear squawks reverberating off of its sand flea-encrusted walls. And here with the play-by-play of the Sesquihour's entertainment spectacle du jour, and no pal of Karl Goldmark, is Kalvos.


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