Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Memory Day: Seventeen Years Ago

April 13, 1999 was a Tuesday, which meant that all music majors were in the Recital Salon for a weekly Convocation of required performances. Convo was scheduled conveniently after lunch, so it could double as a siesta if you sat in one of the chairs with a metal rail behind it serving as a headrest. Because every music major had to perform once per semester, there was an established bag of tricks to rely on to minimize the pain of your performance. For example, really artistic pieces with no accompaniment got a lot of playtime because then you wouldn't have to pay a pianist.

The trick I employed in my junior year was to find the absolute shortest song possible that still counted as a serious musical endeavour -- Scherzo for Trumpet and Piano by Ilia E. Shakhov. Coming in at just under two minutes, this piece fulfilled Convocation requirements to the letter of the law, like writing an essay in English that's three pages long, but with 1.01" margins and 1.2 line spacing.

What follows is one of the lowest quality musical performances since the marching band tried to play the finale of Shostakovich's 5th Symphony while running across a football field. This was no surprise -- I knew that I was not good enough to be a performance major and just wanted to get the Convocation over with so I could go back to writing music that no one would ever play.

  • Tolerate the Scherzo (2 MB MP3)

In the aftermath of this revulsion, a couple trumpet players who actually WERE performance majors (on the middling-to-poor scale) discreetly approached me as if I were their pot dealer and asked where they could "buy the sheet music to that really short song".

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