Fiddling around making unnecessary and unasked for music, 'music' and music is a hobby that no one really needs to know about.
Here are four albums of instrumental stuff available to listen to, or to buy. (The cover designs are by English surrealist artist Dolly Dolly.)
Some of these pieces are intended as imaginary ballets, others are programmatic in different ways. Where necessary a text is given.
Make Room For My Elephant
Any number of dancers explore the stage without ever noticing the elephant, who is in the corner. Every now and then it raises its trunk as if to say, ‘Excuse me’, and then lowers its trunk again. It longs for a tail to hold onto. Everyone else is happy not noticing the big grey thing, so unlike an aspirin, or at least they seem to be. Who can really say?
Eventually they stop dancing, the music comes to an end and the next piece of imaginary entertainment begins. The elephant is still there.
Somehow it has become mid-November.
You feel you must’ve turned over two pages on the calendar.
The year hurtles by.
To slow it down, you could try to make up your own dance.
With Frogs For Their Watchdogs
The camera roves the swamp. It’s one of those mangrove sort of swamps where folks ride those flat-bottomed boats with the big fans on. There have been reports made to the local deputy of sightings. Sightings of what may be an undiscovered people, a primitive, degenerate people, lost in among the trees and rivers for hundreds of years.
An expedition is mounted. There are dogs, there are helicopters. Men with torches and dark glasses investigate a cave mouth which leads into a system of huge chambers, dripping with water. Glistening mosses grow on the walls. They see footprints, markings in the moss.
Eventually day comes to a close, the search parties give it up as a bad job. No one found anyone. They may or may not try again tomorrow.
From the caves and swamp strange troglodytic shapes emerge into the dewy night. They have been watching. They have been in hiding, with their frogs who act as watch-dogs.
One Moment - Phases 1 to 5
If it were the music to an imaginary ballet it would be one of those where the dancers mainly sleep.
Tying The Knots
It is night-time at the cub scout jamboree. After lights out. But boys are practising their knot tying. There’s a big competition tomorrow. Some kids are tying knots by themselves, behind their backs, under cover. Others help each other, practising for the group events. The clove hitch and the granny are popular. Akela watches from behind a small inflatable pyramid, noting down the names of those she’ll need to check on (and possibly untie) before breakfast.
It's Natural That They Would Feel the Cold
Three travellers on an ancient liner lose the keys to their staterooms. They engage in complicated dances while they search the deck. Night is coming down. In the bowels of the ship the engines run relentlessly. In desperation, and with chattering teeth, each traveller looks into the sky imploringly, pleads with the spirits of their ancestors. One of them finds his key just as the ship enters port.
Such A Quick Answer To A Prayer Shakes One A Bit
It’s a dance piece for swaying, sea-weed-waving, littoral moments, for in-between places and times.
A man or woman is walking carelessly along a paved area. They almost trip over a small broken edge of paving slab. They almost stumble. No one is injured.
Nevertheless, they look around for someone to make a petty complaint to.
The official in charge of the paving area enters into discussion with them.
Together, through a series of conversations and actions, they attempt to mend the situation and the paving slab.
After that’s done they go back to the official’s small bedsit where they make freshly found love.
The morning comes and it is grey and awkward.
They attempt conversation. They give up.
It’s happened again.
You Went Up In Smoke
In the hotel lobby there is a minor disturbance. A tramp spontaneously human combusts and the concierge asks him to leave. The hotel pianist and his violin-playing niece provide a soothing soundtrack. She does not recognise the tramp as a one-time lover she had abandoned on a camping vacation several years earlier, even though he had caught fire then, too.
Listen Then To This Sound I Make
Mr Jones is kidnapped by aliens.
They strap him to a big white table in their flying saucer and ask him questions.
It seems they are interested trees. Why are there so many different ones? So many different types?
Where they come from, Mr Jones intuits, there are only three trees. Oaks, he thinks.
Mr Jones is not an expert in tree-ology, but under the influence of the alien’s inhuman questioning techniques he tells them everything he knows and plenty that he just makes up on the spot.
The aliens feed all the information into a computer.
After whirring and chittering for three minutes the computer plays back its collated understanding of what Mr Jones has told them in the form of some noise-that-nears-music.
The aliens perform a small ballet to the computer’s soundtrack.
Like bumblebees, they explain, this is how all reports must be delivered in the main square on their home planet. Thousands come to watch. They are eager to get the facts right.
After watching Mr Jones nods and says, ‘Yes, that’s exactly right.’
The lead alien presses stop on the computer and says, ‘Well, there’s no need to be sarcastic,’ before dumping him, unceremoniously, behind a takeaway pizza restaurant in Haywards Heath.
They Can't Firebomb the Library
Apologies For Being Unable To...
Quartet for Five PLayers
For this piece, the Quartet for Five Players, three pianos should be arranged in a semi-circle around the listener.
In the short and jaunty first movement (But There Are Millions I’d Forget) the spaces in between the pianos are taken by two flautists.
In the lively second movement (Granite Chips & Hazel Sticks), which balances smooth and consonant sections with spikier, more abstract ones, the flautists put their flutes down and are responsible for the massed percussion.
In the short third movement (I Heard Much That You Could Not Hear), a duet for the flutes with minimal percussive decoration, one of the flautists plays from off stage.
In the final, fourth, rather contemplative movement (in five miniature movements of its own) (Cornered In The Dimmest Corner) we return to the purity of the simple piano and flute set-up of the first movement.
The Stages of Her Illness
This is a quartet (violin, viola, cello, flute) in five short movements. The movements can be played in any order, as desired.