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Chronicle of the NonPop Revolution


 
The Essay
Show #231
PCAs
David Gunn

A composer spends years tucked away in a Spartan shack high up in the Klondike Mountains talking to no one save the increasingly alien reflection in the icebox mirror as he writes what he believes will be his masterpiece, a tune so forward thinking that it will forever stretch the boundaries of acoustic events. Returning to his chalet outside of Fresno -- though for purposes of this tale it could as easily be a five-story walk-up in Plankton's Hat, New Hampshire -- he cleans up the score, sends the parts out for copying, rounds up the finest available musicians, secures the services of a renowned conductor especially conversant with the eccentricities of forward thinking music, hires a music hall of unparalleled acoustics, if not seats, then saturates the media with publicity about the tune's premiere. The performance day arrives, the hall is packed with expectant audients, the susurrus of contemplatively turned program pages wafts through the great room and mingles with an unaccountable aroma of frozen celery, the composer paces the floor nervously until several audients behind him ask that he sit down. The instrumentalists and conductor, representing labor and management, have been on the same musical wavelength for weeks now, and neither camp shows any misgivings as the latter picks up the baton and heaves a downbeat at the former. The acoustic event ensues. At once blancmangically sweet and teeth-grindingly sour, and unfettered by quintessential harmonic dicta, at least so thinks the composer, it proceeds apace to the finish line. Ready to leap up and accept the accolades from the seated spectators, the composer is alarmed to discover that most of them are sitting on their hands, unwilling to proffer even a morsel of appreciation. Admonishes one critic later, it was "the sonic equivalent of trying to read the fine print from a Publishers' Clearinghouse subscription contract through a salad bar sneeze shield." The composer goes on to suffer ignominy, mail fraud, conjunctivitis and creative bankruptcy, and all because, for all of his meticulous preparations, he failed to seed his audience with PCAs -- Professional Concert Attendants.

More credible than a common shill, the Professional Concert Attendant is a highly skilled employee who takes his role of audient seriously. Not content to merely express unbridled enthusiasm for an event, he can be expected to react correctly to whatever musical style is presented to him. No circumstance is beyond control, no eventuality is underprepared for. If a particularly inscrutable performance leaves its onlookers bewildered to the point of festering hostility, the PCA will leap up and lead his neighbors in a rousing round of applause. Judiciously scatter two or three more through the auditorium and a demand for a curtain call is assured. Licensed to practice in every state save Utah, as well as many foreign countries, the Professional Concert Attendant is the one ancillary performance expense the cutting edge composer can least afford to skimp on. Don't let an uninformed bunch of audients, who wouldn't recognize a magnum opus if it jumped up and bit them on the latissimus dorsi, get your hollow-horned bearded ruminant raised for wool, milk and meat. If need be, trade that second French horn player for a Professional Concert Attendant. You won't regret it.

This message brought to you by the Guild of Professional Concert Attendees, a subsidiary of the 231st episode of Kalvos & Damian's New Music Bazaar, the capable and conscious Kalvos presiding.