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Chronicle of the NonPop Revolution


 
The Essay
Show #196
A.M.T.R.C.
David Gunn

The American Music Truth and Reconciliation Committee held its annual meeting this past week in Springfield and, as usual, found new ways to antagonize large chunks of the contemporary musicati by pronouncing what was now "in" and what was "out." Not what in the Committee's opinion reflected popular culture -- this was a manifesto that one wasn't expected to challenge. Many long-time members of modern music's mainstream, who had taken their own turns as music history revisionists, suddenly found themselves on the out of favor list, replaced by upstarts who, they say, wouldn't recognize a nice, juicy serial technique if it jumped up and bit 'em on the latissimus dorsi! Even process music provocateurs of the academic community were beginning to feel the heat. What once seemed like the safest of all musical havens was now, according to the Committee, "a repellent reflection of post-Brucknerian jumble chords." Assistant professors by the thesisful were sputtering defensive rhetoric about the importance of their work to the very foundation of musical society, while at the same time clandestinely calling their agents, demanding they find them another bandwagon to jump on.

But here's the cutting edge skinny, right from the Committee secretary's minutes as they were downloaded to its formerly secure website, the result of an ingeniously hacked virtual private network.

Whole tone scales are out; faux fibonacci pitch arrangements are in. The Eb above middle C is back in vogue; Fs, all of them, are yesterday's news. Digital string chaining is suddenly passé, while processing using an analog sequenceomometer, assuming you can find one, is again the catman's boils. The tunes of Milton Babbitt, Pierre Boulez and Jean Barraque are respectively fusty, musty and dusty, while those of the Springfield Sisyphus Trio are hip, hep and happenin'. Steve Reich is borderline out, though a proposed if unlikely foray into musical comedy may yet rejuvenate him, while the music of Jacques Ibert -- now pronounced I-bert -- is undergoing a popularity renaissance. Intermission at the Carnegie Recital Hall received mixed reviews: the quality of the food and beverage, overseen by Ellen T. Zwilich's Young Composer's Commissary, was favorably compared to Qing Lo's Thai Take-Out on East 14th Street; however the waitstaff was likened to drop-outs from a charm school for arthropods. Small, manageable chamber music venues lost their competitive edge, replaced by mammoth mega-orchestras augmented by thousand member karaoke choruses. And yet, defying logic, MIDI symphonies and vocalists were warmly embraced. Le Flambeau Oriange is way out, no surprise there. Oddly, Kalvos & Damian's New Music Bazaar was not on the list.

As you might expect, more than a few members of the musical establishment officially took umbrage at the AMTRC's pronouncements. We here on K&D's 196th episode want to be the first to publicly protest the Committee's seemingly incongruous and wildly inappropriate and exploitative remarks, at least until we learn why exactly we were left off the list and if there's any chance that we can remedy our program content enough to be included as an addendum to the report. If it'll help, we're willing to repudiate selected pieces heard on the show. As a good will gesture, we hereby disown the following formerly oft-played selection. (Espana Cani) If this doesn't satisfy the Committee, it should at least bring some relief to Kalvos.