After B.P.'s Composition Recital, Ball State University, October 15, 2000
by Jody Nagel
B---- P----'s senior composition recital concluded with a small incident that, in a sense, dwarfed the significance of the entire preceding concert.
His recital included a piece for clarinet and piano, Forest, a composition that B---- had worked on in earlier composition lessons with me. The piece made use of a type of triadic harmony in the piano part, of which each chord-tone was doubled a major seventh higher. The "root" relationships were also fixed, using only major thirds, minor thirds and tritones. The thick evocative sonorities supported a free-ranging clarinet melody that produced an overall haunting, yet beautiful, effect.
Just after the concert ended, some loud-mouthed hick-type comes running up to B----: "B----, B----! I loved the concert. You're my new favorite composer. Way cool, man! I especially liked that clarinet and piano piece. It was awesome! Way cool, man! You're my new favorite composer. I loved the concert. B----, B----! " (The symmetrical arch-form of the above dialogue was supplied by the current writer, but that's the basic gist of the kind of incoherent, non-linear type of utterances that came out of the guy's mouth.)
I was standing next to B---- at the time. You know, the basically "proud-of-my-student" kind of thing composition teachers do. After the hick paused, I pointed out that B----'s ability to write the clarinet and piano piece (the hick's favorite piece, you will recall) was because of B----'s music theoretical knowledge that I had asked him to master and incorporate into the piece.
"Music Theory sucks!" blurts out the hick, using the favorite "action" verb of hicks everywhere!
And he continues (now consciously disregarding me): "B----, B----! I loved the concert. You're my new favorite composer. Way cool, man! I especially liked that clarinet and piano piece. It was awesome!"
Thankfully, the hick soon after departed (not to the Hereafter, unfortunately, but merely from the hall.) B----'s parents had come in from out of state to hear the recital, and they had now come over towards B----, too. I looked at B----, and he kind of smiled, knowing I was about to make some kind of comment. I did. "B----," said I. "You can see what I have been telling you over and over these last few years. Those that comprehend things will always be able to control those who do not comprehend things. Your knowledge has allowed you to create a piece of music that caused that hick to consider it really awesome. He rejects the domain of knowledge that would allow him ever to create such a piece, and thus you need never worry that he may create a composition that would cause you to consider it your favorite piece in the whole universe."
Both B---- and his parents smiled.
Boy, I would have killed for the opportunity to catch that hick's ravings on videotape!
Dr. Jody Nagel