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Chronicle of the NonPop Revolution


 
The Essay
Show #147
Bifurcability
David Gunn
Any composer worth his saline solution regularly undergoes the psychogenic process known as birfurcatism -- that is, the sundering of the cognitive mind into two parts. While the south brain, if you will, tends to all of the mundane duties associated with human existence, such as breathing and disposing of rancid cheese, the northeast side of the brain is free to hookwink metaphysics, invert spatial mechanics, swap universes, bark, or invent the occasional compositional tune. The great underappreciated foundationist of 20th century musical architecture, Reinhold Gliere, wrote numerous dissertations on his own bifurcationalism. He said that while he sat at his keyboard awaiting musical inspiration, he often bifurcated himself by force. If ever there was a red flag embroidered with 72 point boldface type saying "Kids, don't try this at home!", this is it. Although Gliere's disassocation from reality enabled him to knock out numerous happy melodies, which in turn garnered him transitory fame, a teaching career, and numerous desultory women, he also suffered irreparable ontological damage. Gradually, he became unable to retrieve the south side of his brain; he existed only in a theoretical universe, one in which photons and electrodes supplanted tasty plankton for ionized whale fodder and the speed of sound passed that of light in all but the murkiest corners of his mind. Worst of all for Gliere, as he wrote in his last letter to Blanche, a desultory woman from Berlin, he could no longer conceive of music in anything but algorithms. A simple C major scale became the cosine of 8¹ hypotenused; an F minor triad with the ninth flatted and the third sent off to bed without supper became the logarithmic radix of the Euclidian square root; and the second measure of Bela Bartok's fourth string quartet was represented by Þ ÷ ø = ±¿Ð or 650 less the hypothalamus. Gliere's late marches, with their incomprehensible trio ma non troppo sections, chromatic non-sequiturs, and cacophonous contra-tympani lines demonstrated the dangers of over-controlled bifurcationality.

However, not content to let the process occur naturally, one callous pharmaceutical company now markets an over-the-counter bifurstimulant. To add insult to potential brainal injury, the algorithm used to concoct the formula came from an IRCAM student whose own compositions were roundly lambasted by the Parisian press.

Bifurcality can extend to radiophonic programming, as well. Here on this show -- i.e. Kalvos & Damian's New Music Bazaar, including but not limited to this 147th episode -- a kind of sanguine schizophrenia exists. In the K&D universe, we coexist with disparate musical qualities and identities, some of which are openly antagonistic. But what others may attribute to a dopamine imbalance on our part, we choose to ascribe to a music industry unwilling to embrace or even recognize new attempts to turn acoustic events into musical events. It's a time-space bifurcation: they're in the safe and harmonious past and we're teetering on the millenial brink with a bunch of sequencer and sampler geeks. All we need now is an asteroid to hit the planet and ka-boom, it's the flambeau oriange effect all over again.

The bifurcation of today's episode has now begun. And here with the northwest portion of the show is Kalvos.