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Chronicle of the NonPop Revolution


 
The Essay
Show #178
Squirreling
David Gunn

The following essay is the product of a mind whose ability to settle on worthwhile subject matter has temporarily vacated the premises. Tune in again next week when a better theme may produce superior word content.

The process of chromatic manipulation of organic matter that is the bread and butter of every contemporary electro-acoustic serialist composer worth his saline solution, a process known as "squirreling," was invented by Dr. Abacus 90 years ago today. Amazingly, its initial design and construct had nothing to do with music. Equally remarkable is the fact that it has remained virtually unchanged since it was first reported in the Journal of American Music Appreciators in 1908. "Squirreling," the report began, in its typically understated manner, "is this really cool thing. It's, like, awesome, man. I mean, how could we even begin to appreciate music before we got hip to this concept, you know?" The text of the review then deteriorated into a series of 280 consonant-less words, each consisting of a string of between five to 13 vowels. When pronounced under duress, they approximated guttural howls, conjuring up images of primitive man taking a cold shower.

When Dr. Abacus turned six, he was snatched from his daycare by wolves, who lugged him up into the mountains where the sun shone for 20 hours a day. They den-schooled him for 20 years, where he forgot about poetry and dance and mathematical equations, and instead learned animal philosophy and carnivore ethics. When at last he was released back into the Mechanical World, Dr. Abacus emerged into a genteel Texan society with a knowledge of the natural world contrary to conventional wisdom of the day. His father, who had parlayed his son's sudden disappearance into a couple of years on tour before other events of the day proved more intriguing to chat show audiences, instantly scored a hefty research grant to study him. Initially annoyed that Dr. had forsaken his youthful artistic talents, he perked up when he noticed the 26-year old balling up and hiding his clothes under his mattress. "Squirrel," Dr. Abacus muttered as he afterwards sat defensively on the mattress. Needing a title for the grant, his father turned that word into a transitive verb and tacked onto it "chromatic manipulation of organic matter," an obscure lower case radio serial drama of the day. The research grant was extended, Dr. Abacus got to safely store his clothing, and later, the electroacoustic musical world adopted the phrase for its own obscure usage. Everybody was happy.

Everybody, that is, save for audient members of this 178th episode of Kalvos & Damian's New Music Bazaar, who rightfully suspect an act of essay indiscretion, or le flambeau oriange, and one which now will be redressed by Kalvos.