Joug Music

30 May

What is this new music I hear rumors of? Canso asked himself walking down a cobble street at night in the Bassin District.

A thick fog filled the harbor of Crystaltown that early autumn evening.

The thin, short music composer wore a heavy black cloak. His purpuric eyes hunted for the sign of the night club where he had been told a player on the melodeon performed in a new melodic style that was turning into a rage.

Joug music was something he had never heard. Curiosity drew him into the dock area where this novel fad had first arisen. Its creator was a Leal Dormal appearing at the Maxixe Club. So had Canso been informed by fellow crystalized musicians.

An argon sign indicated the location of the drinking establishment he sought. Through the swinging door, into the green-lit interior hurried the young music composer. The huge room was silent, the evening’s performance had not yet begun. A female server came over to Canso’s tiny table as soon as he sat down. “A punch nog, please,” was his order to her. It was quickly delivered. He started to take short, small sips as the club filled up with patrons. Without announcement or introduction, a gangly figure emerged onto the small stage from behind a screen, sat down at the reed organ melodeon, and started to play.

All eyes in the club centered on the lanky, spindly musician in a tuxedo.

What is he producing? Canso asked himself, sensing a mesmeric enchantment rising and spreading about.

I have never heard anything so free and unworldly, he told himself immediately. This performer is playing spontaneously, as was common in ages of the past.

He has no Control Crystal directing his notes and rhythms. Metric accent and temporal beat are independent of each other. Extemporaneous variations and syncopations are occurring throughout the performance. Out-of-key departures, wild melodic flights, unexpected counterpoint: all of these happen without any crystalizing whatsoever.

This joug music is a completely new experience for me, realized Canso.

But the sounds feel familiar, as if they have been forever deeply buried somewhere inside me. How uncanny this new style of music is! How fresh and exciting! How natural!

The traditional crystal composer resolved to meet and speak with Leal Dumal as soon as he could. He had never before felt such enthusiasm for anything.

Crystals within crystals within crystals.

That had been the dominant pattern within the world of music for over a hundred years.

Advancements in nanogeology had created synthetic quartzes and silicates that could hold days of musical compositions. Surgery permitted the implanting of these programmed crystals into the brain locations of instrument players. Music was now engineered and digitally directed. Each performance of a work by an orchestra needed only new crystal inserts for the instrument players, not a score full of written notes. The musician had become totally automated as a result of crystalizing. Canso meditated on this general situation as he waited for Dumal to finish his last number of the evening.

Joug music was something both old and new, a combination of multiple styles. It was free of the limits and time boundaries of crystal music and its established conventions.

Improvisation was now reborn.

No wonder the audience applauded on and on as Leal Dumal took bows. A broad, ecstatic smile crossed the musician’s mouth. His limy eyes glowed with joy.

As the melodeon player disappeared behind the stage screen, Canso rose from his table and hurried to what seemed to be the corridor to the rear exit. He happened to spy Dumal going into a dressing room. This was where the joug master could be cornered and talked with.

Canso did not bother to knock, but swung open the door and rushed in.

Sitting at a table with a large mirror, Leal turned his head to the intruder.

“Who are you?” he grunted. “What is it you want?”

The composer had to think fast.

“Pardon me, Mr. Dumal, but after hearing you play I had to come back here immediately and offer you a proposal.”

“Proposal?” returned the other. “What sort of proposal are you thinking of?”

“Working together. Cooperation and collaboration according to your own individual wishes and ideas.”

“I cannot understand you,” replied Leal. “What are you contemplating? I have worked by myself till now. I have no need for any partnership at all.”

“Let me explain my position. My job is that of a score arranger for the Crystaltown Philharmonic Orchestra. Besides that, I also compose original works for performance there. All of my creation is done through crystal programming of musicians. Both classical compositions and my own are digitalized for microcrystal storage. That is the way all music is produced and replayed today. But from what I heard here tonight, I know that your music is completely different. Innovation and improvisation occur in each fresh performance. Nothing at all is automated or canned. The unexpected can always jump out of the player’s unconscious. With all of today’s advanced crystal technology, nothing can match your new free playing.”

“I know all of that,” frowned Leal. “What is it you intend to ask of me?”

Canso took a step closer.

“I want to go to the Philharmonic’s conductor with an innovative work that combines our traditional, conventional crystal music that has become our classical style with the vivacity and energy of joug. Live performance by you, with the free tones and the chaotic rhythms that you create on the spot: that will be the centerpiece of an augmented, blended kind of composition. A wider public will thus be introduced to what you are doing down here.”

Purpuric and lime eyes exchanged searching looks.

Is this musical genius about to turn down my offer? wondered Canso tensely. But a happy surprise came to the composer who had visited the nightclub to hear a music totally new to him.

“Let me think over your idea,” answered Dumal. “If tomorrow night you are here at the Maxixe, I will have a decision ready for you.”

Next evening, the composer was in an elevated mood, listening to new joug improvisations as he sipped on a calamondine rickey. He was surprised when the performer, when finished, stepped down from the stage and took a seat at his table.

“My answer has to be a positive one,” said Leal, smiling with joy. “I foresee a chance to make my joug music acceptable and respectable through this plan of yours. We will make an alloy of two differing kinds of sound. When can you and I begin?”

“As soon as I can make arrangements with the orchestra conductor,” smiled Canso. “I have to convince Dr. Kurg Myx to break with the past of crystallization. That will not be easy to accomplish, because that powerful man in charge of the Philharmonic is a strict traditionalist. It will be difficult to make him see that the change that you are creating is necessary.” He stared with intensity at the melodeonist. “Tell me, if you will, how you happened to make your first joug.”

“I was born out in farming country, far from any town or city. My family operated a hop vineyard. In my earliest years, an older sister taught me how to play the clavichord. I was much too young to have any crystal implants placed into my forming brain. The ancient method of spontaneous music was the only way open for me. In time, I mastered the oral harmonicus and the melodeon with my own mind and fingers. Never was any brain crystal afforded me. I was unequipped for that.”

“And that handicap helped you create your first joug?”

“My crystal deficiency was the greatest influence on me, I think,” mused Dumal aloud.

The pair became silent for a short while. Then Canso decided he should present his plan for a joint musical composition.

“I mean to present a composition in the form of a concerto to our conductor, Dr. Myx. The first and third movements will be my traditional creations, written in conventional style and performed through crystalized musicians. But the middle section will consist of free improvisation by you on the melodeon, and there will be no crystals involved. That means that every performance by you will be original and unique, never to be exactly repeated. It must therefore be a solo, without accompaniment of any kind.

“Are you willing to cooperate with me on such an approach?”

“Yes, of course I am,” replied Leal with a radiant grin.

“Good. Now, I must go to the conductor and win his approval for our project.”

Kurg Myx, a towering goliath, commanded his musicians with military-like authority. His massive shock of snowy hair, his projecting eagle nose, his piercing inky-black eyes: every aspect of the man symbolized unquestioned authority and power. No one dared interfere with the will of this conductor.

Canso made an appointment to meet the maestro in his commodious office at Philharmonic Hall.

“How is your work progressing?” asked Myx as the two sat down opposite each other on comfortable settees. “Are you prepared to present me with some new opus?”

“Indeed,” said the composer with a friendly smile. “The piece is a concerto that I put together with another person. He is a performer on the melodeon and will himself provide the middle movement of the work. But his contribution will be imaginative and unusual. It will be unlike anything that the orchestra now presents to its audiences.”

Myx perked up. “What are you talking about?” he inquired.

“My portions that enclose his will be on the players’ crystal inserts, but not his bridging section in the middle. This man,Leal Dumal, has produced a new style that he calls joug. It possesses uninhibited, free improvisation by the performer himself. We have nothing like its electrifying beauty. It is alive with energy.”

Myx cleared his throat with a gravel sound.

“My orchestra is not a laboratory for farfetched experimentation,” he said angrily. “It is not possible to permit anyone to play an instrument spontaneously, at will. What would we have if everyone decided they had such a right to go their own way? Cacophonous dissonance would surely result, believe you me.”

“But I beg you to hear the new rhythm of this unknown genius. His melodies are haunting and magnetic.”

All at once, the gigantic conductor rose to his feet and glared straight at Canso.

“No, what you propose is unacceptable. I advise you to do this: cast out and discard any irregular, self-indulgent delirium and replace it with your own best crystalline music. You are a proven master in the standard patterns. That is what the public, the orchestra, the music critics, and I myself want and expect.”

Canso studied the stony face of the chief of the philharmonic orchestra.

“I shall have to rewrite my concerto, then,” he said with sorrow in his voice.

The composer rose and left without another word.

I have to invent a way of overcoming these prohibitions, he told himself in silence.

Sitting at the keyboard of the clavier in his apartment, Canso surveyed a chart of the crystallic types of musicians in the various sections of the philharmonic. Each instrument possessed a distinctive medium for its part in the overall score. Different forms of tourmaline were central to the strings. For the violone, the crystal in use was the red rubellite. The vidula players carried blue indicolite in their brain insert, while with fidulas had green elbaite.

In the woodwind section, there was a rich rainbow of color. Clarionets had yellow crystals of jarosite, clarinos had blue ones of lazulite, and chalumeaux used black epidote. Hautboys could be identified by emerald green dioptase, while the saxhorn had pale blue chalcedony.

The cornets used orange red crystals of rutile and the tromba depended upon olive-green olivine. Bassons used bluish lolite, while the lute was a gray spinel.

In the percussion area, varied shades of purple amethyst and sapphire dominated for the players of tympan, cymbalum, tambourin, and trommel.

Yellow to brown cairngorm provided a smoky quartz for dulcimer, vibraharp, and organum pipes. The harpist carried a yellowish green crystal of peridot.

Even the rarely played concertina had a pink rhodonite crystal.

But the melodeon of Leal Dumal was not a traditional symphonic instrument, noted the composer. No crystal at all was ever available for that low-status musical instrument. No microscopic, needlelike aciculae had ever been used to guide that instrument through a symphony, concerto, or rhapsodic suite. The melodeon was not a respectable part of high culture. It place in the realm of music was an ambiguous one at best.

What was he now to do with the creator of joug? Canso asked himself.

The answer struck him in a flash.

A subtle trick had to be used on Kurg Myx in order to win a victory over him.

The two collaborators met in the dressing room at the Maxixe Club.

“Let me describe my new plan for you,” said the composer in as convincing a tone as he was capable of. “In order to gain philharmonic treatment for our concerto, we must make a major modification in how we characterize the whole work. All reference to improvisation has to be omitted. A pretense of absolutely crystalized music is the only way that we win the approval of Maestro Myx. He has to believe that there is no free interpretation whatever in this opus, that it is wholly prepatterned and programmed.

“But he will not be told the truth: that the middle movement of your solo performance consists of free-flowing creativity, the same way you produce joug each night here in this club.”

Leal, breathing hard, gaped in shock at his partner.

“That would be fiction, a deception,” he gulped in dismay.

“I believe that we are justified in taking that extraordinary, desperate road. There is really no alternative for us, is there?”

The musician did not reply at once, but considered the whole matter.

“What do we say later, when new performances prove to be so different from the original one that was played?” asked Leal.

Canso gave a brilliant smile. “We can then tell everyone the truth about the nature of the concerto. By then, our public success should be evident to all. We will be able to present joug music as it is, without disguise or concealment.”

“Very well,” nodded Leal. “That is the way we are compelled to do it.”

The choice thus made was an irreversible one.

The following morning, Canso hurried to Philharmonic Hall to inform the conductor of this new development. He found Kurg Myx in a rehearsal chamber listening to virtuosi testing new crystals. The two men went off to the back of the room to talk.

The composer explained the change of plans made by his partner, the melodeon player.

“He is perfectly willing to perform with a digitalized insert. We have chosen a simple silica crystal to hold his melodeon solo. Nothing more elaborate or expensive will be needed.”

By now, Myx was triumphantly grinning. “Did you convince the man to take this wiser course?” he inquired.

“I presented many reasons for changing his stubborn attitude. Plain, simple logic appears to have won out in the end.”

“When can my orchestra schedule a rehearsal for an inaugural performance, then?”

“He is prepared to start at once. Neither of us can see any reason to delay it.”

“Good!” beamed the conductor. “I would like to meet and talk with this creative individual. We could hold a rehearsal within a week, then be ready for the debut in two weeks. What do you think of such a schedule, Canso? Is it too rushed or rapid?”

“Not at all. It will necessitate a lot of intense work, but both Leal and I are willing to apply all our time and energy to making the concerto a success.”

“We must choose an appropriate crystal for the melodeonist at once,” said Kurg Myx with determination. “I plan to make that a high priority because of its importance.”

The evening of the introductory concert, Canso and Leal rode to Philharmonic Hall together in a one-horse hackney. Both men wore formal black cutaways.

“Are you anxious at all?” asked the composer as they climbed down at the back entrance.

“A little,” replied the performer. “But I will try to be as natural and calm as possible.”

The pair went into the rear corridor of the hall. Musicians were already seating themselves.

Leal took his chair at the back of the orchestra. Canso had decided to stand close to the opening through which the orchestra entered and departed from the auditorium.

The new concerto was to be the first number on the program that night. As the moment to begin playing approached, an expectant hush fell on the great chamber.

Mild applause could be heard as the conductor walked onto the orchestra stage and made his way to the central podium. He opened the score book, took his stick, and raised it up to start the playing.

Slow, dreamy music began, the concerto’s first movement. A gradual rise in tempo followed, reaching a leisurely pace. The happy, galloping spirit of the composition caught all ears and minds. Harmonic wholeness and smoothness were being conveyed by the crystalized musicians of the large orchestra.

After five minutes, this initial movement came to an abrupt end. A few seconds of empty silence ensued, then the sound of a single melodeon filled the hall with staccato notes that were both familiar and strangely foreign to the hearers. Most of the audience had never before experienced this joug music before. Fascination with its fantastic melodic lines and unusual rhythms captured the attention of everyone present. Without any accompaniment, Leal Dumal cast a spell of enchantment in all directions, as far as his music reached.

Sooner than expected, this middle solo section of the concerto came to an end.

The last, final movement consisted of a stately largo resembling an ancient pavane. The strings and woodwinds carried a counterpoint combination devised by Canso Sarsar.

A period of restful recovery was afforded the audience after the excitement of the melodeon solo given by Leal.

Tumultuous clapping came with the end of the new concerto.

The conductor turned about and took a bow, then pointed an arm toward the soloist. Smiling with gratitude, Leal also bowed to the applauding audience. At last, when the clapping was over, the melodeonist made his way to the back opening and disappeared.

He was no longer needed. His work for the evening was over. The orchestra went on to familiar works from the classical repertoire of crystal music.

As Leal moved backstage, Canso grabbed his right hand and shook it vigorously.

“You did it! The concerto, due to you, had a colossal success tonight!” He smiled with ecstasy. “Now the move to genuine improvisation can follow. We can acknowledge before the public that crystallization is unnecessary.”

The face of the performer became a frozen, granite-like mask.

“I do not think so, Canso,” he murmured with a frown.

“What do you mean?” asked the suddenly confused composer.

The limy eyes of Leal avoided looking directly at him.

“Let me explain. Kurg Myx has promised me a concert tour if I go over with the public tonight, and I have done exactly that.

“But there is one stipulation that I had to agree to. No more improvisations, none at all. Every performance that I am to give will have to be with the use of digital crystals. There is no other way that he will advance my musical career. That is what Kurg Myx insists on. Sorry, old friend.”

The melodeonist moved past him, heading to the orchestra dressing room to change.

Canso, stunned and shaken, stood paralyzed.

Have I witnessed the death of joug music this evening? he asked himself.

He suddenly realized that what Leal had played on his melodeon was a crystalized imitation of truly improvised joug. Yet he had taken and accepted it as the real thing.

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