Thursday, January 29, 2009

Harvest Home Chorale

When the risk of a late frost had safely past, Alois Hartkase planted the remains of 20th century music in the turned earth of the back 40 acres.

He planted a umbrella misplaced and forgotten behind Erik Satie's piano. He planted Salome's last veil. He planted a siren used at the premiere of Ameriques and an airplane engine from the Symphonie Mechanique. He planted an echo of the riot that greeted Le Sacre, four minutes and thirty-three seconds of tacet playing, and the coughs Richard Maxfield borrowed from a Christian Wolff concert. He — very gently, mind you — planted a leather whip required for Millicent Cabbage's Donnamatrix for orchestra. He planted Schoenberg's hand-painted playing cards. He planted the last remaining Farfisa organs used for Four Organs (or were they used for Another Look at Harmony?) as well as a Moog, a Buchla, an Ondes Martinot and the KGB file of Lev Theremin. He planted the burning red end of Feldman's cigarette and a mustard smothered turnip left half-eaten by La Monte Young. He planted a ruler used by Boulanger to slap the wrists of errant contrapuntalists. He then scattered handfuls of scews, bolts, coins, erasers and weather stripping salvaged from years of piano preparation across the fields he had so carefully plowed into 12-by-12 rows.

When he was done, Alois took off his boots, sat down in the shade of of the dogwood tree just back of the well to wonder, lazily in the late afternoon sun, if the next harvest would be as rich as the last.


Anonymous said...


Charles Shere said...

Hooray for this post, and hooray for Hartkase. I hope we hear something about the harvest. And by the way what had he planted in the front forty? an ear-trumpet, a golden ring, a cigar-butt, a copy of Evenings in the Orchestra?