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Chronicle of the NonPop Revolution


 
The Essay
Show #80
Maria Speaks the Truth
David Gunn
In the 92nd minute of his movie, Manhattan, Woody Allen can be heard making a sound not unlike a theremin in the throes of a Doppler field after slamming a car door on his hand. The music which accompanies this scene is a Furtwangler-conducted recording of a youthful Bette Midler reading the inscription over a beached pilot whale in Perth Amboy, NJ. If the significance of this event is lost on you, you are not alone ... unless, of course, no one else is in the room with you right now. But a Dopplered theremin and a beached pilot whale have more in common than mere sesquintro sentence adjacency. They also can be combined to produce a mischievously winning hand at Whiskers Six-Draw; they form a chordal sequence in apposition in the song "Blue, spongelike material that reeks of scorched fennel;&auot; and they usually know how to have a good time in Tampa.

The music over which I mutter is the infamous ballet tune from "The Lady with the Lapdog" by Rodion K. Shchedrin who, upon falling behind in his alimony payments, was said to have given his former wife yet another ex-Shchedrin headache. His equally easily-neglected "Naughty Limericks for Orchestra" may be a bazaarable topic one day when I am hopefully elsewhere. Elsewhere is coincidentally where everyone in this room was, and each has a different alibi to prove it, in 1931 when famous midwestern composer Vincent díIndianapolis -- who had recently witnessed the famous food fight scene in Norma and longed to add similar foodsticuffs to his own works -- upended a giant gravy tureen and spilled the contents onto an electronic instrument often used for high tremolo effects and played by moving the hands near its two antennas, like this, and died there on the spot from ... well, no one knows for sure; suffice it to say that his trenchermanly colleagues at the Schola Cantorum Cafeterium in Paris where Vincent fretted and stewed amongst his prune-like contemporaries were never again able to look a mutton chop in the flank, in-stead preferring the smoky wobble of the pudding specialty of the house, le flambeau oriange, the same name, oddly enough, as that of the lady's lapdog.

And now itís Guinness Book of Musical Records time, featuring fascinating tidbits from a couple of smart people who wrote a book.Todays bits: the shortest and longest compositions in Western music, excluding, naturally, Scandinavia. The former is a cappricio for flute and tympani by an unknown composer which consists of one hemi-semi- demimoore-quaver. Pierre Rampal and his drum machine once performed the piece 17 times in ten seconds, excluding pauses for applause. The longest piece is the aptly-titled "Snoratorio for Chamber String Orchestra," by a composer who wishes to remain unknown and who was also not in this room in 1931. The snoratorio is massively long -- over 217 hours, excluding repeats, which are notated every other bar -- and has never been played in toto ... or in Dorothy or Cowardly Lion, either. The overture was performed once in 1970 and then, assuming the musicians had gotten it all wrong, again in 1972, with no discernable improvement, after which it was quickly and quietly annulled.

A null is also the number of zero magnitudes in a mathematical set having no members, unlike this, the 80th episide of Kalvos & Damian's New Music Bazaar, which has plenty of members, not counting persons in this room now in 1931 which, through no fault of his own, or at least none that heíll cop to, may or may not include Kalvos.