Atonal music is an acquired taste. One, I admit, I never quite acquired. Even the name of it makes me cock my head in wonder. Music is rhythm, harmony and melody. If you take “tone” out of it… well, you have rhythm. Which, isn’t actually the definition of atonal music, but the lack of audible structure to it never settles in my ear, in my soul.
Back in college (way back, way way back, further than some of you have been tapping your feet to music), I had to write a piece of atonal music for my music theory class. Schoenberg developed the twelve-tone technique, or twelve-tone serialism, or “god, what IS that?” sound. It’s mathematic. Structured. Set up to be an even distribution of all twelve tones in a musical scale–including chromatics.
Like my character Emmett, I am a mathematic type of musician. Give me a piece of music and I’ll make it my own. Toby is the composer, taking notes from the air, from his soul and mixing them together into something beautiful. Emmett prefers a script; Toby likes to improvise. So, I saw this mathematic assignment as something I could tackle since composition in and of itself was not something I excelled at.
I took my rules, my charts, my piano and a notebook of manuscript and got to work. I called it Daddy’s Hands because I have always loved my father’s hands and imagined what they might look like if he were a pianist. It was…. bad. So terrifically bad. And I got an “A” because I followed the rules and the structure and go Lynn!
To my ears, music isn’t math. But some love it. Toby’s friend Malik most definitely does not. And as for Toby, well–he prefers to use it as a ring tone that cannot be ignored.
Cacophonous piano chords clanged through the small space, and Malik groaned. “What the hell is that? I’ve been hearing it all day.”
“Answer it maybe? Who puts that ugly shit as their ringtone?”
The atonal Schoenberg piano concerto finally stopped, and Tobias shoved a stack of papers into the trash. He looked up at Malik and grinned. “I put that ugly shit as my ringtone so I will answer it and make the ugly shit stop.”
Black Dust is now available for pre-order from Interlude Press. For my readers in US and Canada, if you order before May 7, you will get a free e-book package, using the code BLACKDUST.