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Chronicle of the NonPop Revolution


 
The Essay
Show #213
The Perfect Gift
David Gunn

It's that time of the year again: Nirvana and Protival are graduating from high school, no matter their SAT scores combined equal the melting point of potassium in dog years; Max Murphy, the priestly pederast at the Algonquin Orphanage, is about to learn that his fling with Atella the waitress has made him a father in more than the Roman Catholic sense of the word; and Woodbane the Latter Day Druid is gearing up for the 11,499th summer solstice ceremony with enough centrifugal field magic to make his head spin. So what do these celebrants have in common -- aside from a mysterious connection to the hypothetical village of Bee Cave, Texas? Each merits a gift to mark the occasion. But choosing a present is always chancy. Inappropriate peace offerings have sparked, among others, the invasion of Staten Island, the Trilobite Uprising and the movie, "Ishtar." Fortunately, this year gift giving has been simplified by focus groups who have determined that, whether you're shopping for a grad, a dad or a pagan nomad, the perfect present is a music composition.

Hand-crafted by artisans schooled in the artifice of linking one acoustic event to another to another, then adding dollops of sampling, ostinato and counterpoint until something approaching a tune emerges, a music composition tells the recipient that you care ... about what focus groups have to say. And whether it's a full-blown multi-movement commission or a recycled one-minute sneeze, it still can pack more wallop than a greeting card. It tells dad that he's special, if only for a day; it offers the grad hearty if bewildered congrats; it gives the solstician something to hum besides ferns and rocks.

And there has never been a better time to shop for a tune. Many contemporary composers, having been left out of the money making loop, shunned by patrons of the arts and ignored by public radio, are ready to deal. Clearance sales are plentiful, and many once exorbitant pieces are priced to go. Bargain hunters may want to consider last year's compositional crop, because, a decade from now, who will care if a tune was vintage '98 or '99? Haggling, long a tradition among tunesmiths, is another way to buy a sonaga for a song. Make a preposterously low offer to a composer for his opus one and watch him squirm. Money talks; penury walks. Other composers offer credit plans, with no money down and easy terms. One way or another, you're sure to get a decent musical event without spending a bundle.

While it may be a bit late to get a major symphony or ocarina octet written for the occasion, since graduation is tonight, Father's Day is tomorrow, and the solstice the day after, any composer worth his saline solution ought to have plenty of ready-made tunes from which to choose. And while you're poring over scores, judging the validity of acoustoelectric constructs and analyzing MIDI renderings, keep in mind any other special dates coming up: Independence Day is a mere two weeks away, Duplicity's bridal shower is three, and Beano's bar mitzvah is 172. Now could be a perfect time to stock up and save.

And save is what we have done to the rest of episode 213 of Kalvos & Damian's New Music Bazaar for Kalvos, whose own compositional marketing prowess over the Internet has recently enabled him to assume a life of pomp, circumspection and this episode.