Last night, Child and I attended a school concert comprised of student compositions. The first student conductor got up and I thought we were about to start, but it was just silent. Five minutes later, one of the violinists finally plucked a string. Another five minutes passed, then a flute played a quavering note, followed by a three or four more minutes of silence, then a single chime.
I suddenly realized, to my horror, that this was an "interpretive" song. It was probably called something like, "My Interpretation of a Glacier Moving Through Peanut Butter," or so I judged from the speed the song moved. Approximately 500 years passed but the song finally ended, and the next one began. Unfortunately, it was exactly the same, except the glacier was moving through molasses instead of peanut butter. I sunk deeper into my seat. This might take a while.
Some of the other songs were slightly more active (the way a slug is slightly more active than pond scum) but they were all still "interpretive," which is a musicology term meaning "no melody, no beat, and no point." Random drum beats mixed with shrilling flutes, arbitrary chimes, and wayward oboe notes. Child and I agreed that half the songs were probably being made up on the spot, by composition students that had forgotten the final was that evening ("Wait, that's tonight? Dude, I've got, like, nothing ready. Guess I'll do something 'interpretive.' Should I set the metronome for 'slug' or 'pond scum'?")
The faster songs still had no distinguishable melody, and had names like, "My Interpretation of the Three Violins, a Flute, and Two Cymbals Falling Off a Moving Car, part 1 of 10," "My Interpretation of an Oboe, a Timpani, and Four Xylaphones Falling Off a Moving Bus, part 1 of 15," and "My Interpretation of a Bus and a Car Carrying Six Bongo Drums, Four Cellos, and Five Trumpets Colliding."
My favorite, though, was "A Rabid Chipmunk Loose Inside a Viola." It also had no melody, but it was amusing watching the intense look of complete seriousness on the musician's face; he obviously knew that his teacher was looking for any sign that he was making it up as he went and was desparately repeating to himself, keep a straight face, keep a straight face.
Oh, and at the end, we all got a balloon, and got to go down to the stage and wander through the instruments while the musicians played, so we could "feel the sound of the music in our fingertips." I felt like Kronk, in Emperor's New Groove. "Ooh, I'm feelin' it." I also felt like taking a Music Composition class, so I could show the other students a thing or two. ("Look! I'm playing two consecutive notes on the same instrument! Yes, it's possible!")
I guess it wasn't all bad though, there was one half-way decent part...wait, no, that was the ice cream I had afterwards. At least Child didn't attempt to strangle me as we left the concert, so that's another plus.