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Chronicle of the NonPop Revolution


 
The Essay
Show #187
Impeachable Musical Acts
David Gunn

As the seasonal solstice bears down upon northern Vermont with all of the subtlety of a locomotive stalking a leopard in a china closet, the sentient portion of the known world should be eager to learn more about curio shortages in Belgium, the sudden cancellation of short-term health care for sousaphone trainers, the mysterious disappearance of thumb and gander abstractions from Whiskers six-draw tournament play, and especially about the large, hulking accountant from BMI middle management who was caught in the cloakroom rubbing salve on his badger. But what does Nosy America instead find so darned interesting? They are asking just what is a musically impeachable offense, and which venal entity can we tar and feather for having indiscreetly committed same?

There were, at last count, a dozen actions that the musical community found so reprehensible that censure, filleting or even impeachment of the guilty party was obligatory. Some of them are too disgusting even for this radio program to broadcast, but you can always find them on the website. Just click on the box labeled "Too Egregious for Airplay," and you'll go right to them. But prepare to be embarrassed, offended and maybe annoyed. Several formerly reputable search engines, after linking to the site, self-destructed. And at least one person killed herself. True, the coroner officially ruled her death accidental, since her broken body was found underneath her computer monitor as well as the side of the house that collapsed from the impact of the meteor. But her last on-line contact was with the Impeachable Music Site, so you can draw your own conclusions.

It doesn't take a Beano Bengaze to deduce that Egregious Action #11, "Utilizing Altavista's Babelfish Systran Translation Software to turn Prosaic English Sentences into Modern Music Texts," is potentially impeachable. For example, the lyrics from a certain contemporary composer's algorithm-driven song cycle read "Los billows de la aleta de la tienda tienen gusto de Laponia bajo el cielo del circonio. Prepararé su tejón con placer. Un trollop preferido dice hola con gelatina." At first blush, these words appear inspired, mellifluous, wise and sturdy. However, once one digs deeper -- say, to the third or fourth blush -- we discover that it was no Fibonacci sequence processed through a vocoder that produced these words. In fact, they were burned as an after image on the computer screen that allegedly collapsed atop the previously mentioned meteor-pummeled woman. A link to the Babelfish site suggests that the composer had been there, too. Reverse translation reveals the original text to be somewhat less breathtaking: "The tent flap billows like Lapland under the zirconium sky. I will groom your badger with pleasure. A favorite trollop says hello with gelatin."

If the tune hadn't garnered the composer a prestigious award as well as a coterie of boot-licking sycophants who cozied up to him soon thereafter, the musical community might not have been so inclined to label the use of such a device musically misguided to the point of impeachment. But he did and so did they.

But wait. Who is this musical community, and who gave them the right to dictate the parameters of good taste? I surely didn't vote for them, and, if I did, I want a recount.

I also hereby demand the return of this, the 187th episode of Kalvos & Damian's New Music Bazaar, to its rightful heirs and assigns, or, "Ich auch von verlange hiermit die Rückkehr dieses, die 187. Episode Kalvos und neuer Musikbasar Damian, zu seinen rechtmässigen Erben und von weise zu," a/k/a the oft-flambeaued Kalvos.