Ponto presents… You Can’t Handle the Truth

Robert Ponto, Director of Bands at the University of Oregon, posted a real gem on my Facebook page yesterday. Rather than share it only with the small handful of people who actually read all comments on my Facebook statuses, I got Robert’s permission to post it here, too. Imagine “A Few Good Men” meets… lord, I don’t know, but it’s brilliant. He posted it in response to my posting about judging a composition contest…

Overheard during questioning of one of the composers:

Mackey: I want the truth!

Composer: You can’t handle the truth! Son, we live in a world that 12 pitch classes. And those 12 pitch classes have to be guarded by men like me and Allen Forte. Who’s gonna do it? You? You, Mr. Mackey? I have a greater responsibility than you can possibly fathom. You weep for tonality and you curse the serialist. You have that luxury. You have the luxury of not knowing what I know: that tonality’s near death, while tragic, probably saved a lot of academic’s jobs. And my existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves audiences from music. You don’t want the truth. Because deep down, in places you don’t talk about at parties, you want me at that matrix. You need me at that matrix.
We use words like “set theory”, “interval vectors”, “hexachordal combinatoriality”… we use these words as the backbone to a life spent defending something. You use ’em as a punchline. I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very tonal freedom I provide, then questions the manner in which I provide it! I’d rather you just said “thank you” and went on your way. Otherwise, I suggest you pick up a pitch wheel and stand a post. Either way, I don’t give a damn what you think you’re entitled to!

Mackey: Did you order the use of this all-interval row?

Composer: I did the job you sent me to do.

Mackey: Did you order the use of this all-interval row??

Composer: You’re goddamn right I did!!

And… scene.

I really don’t have much to add, other than this picture of an orchid that we have in the kitchen…

… and this picture of some cupcakes we baked the other night.

Back to work, I guess. I have some material now for the slow movement of the Trombone Concerto. I worry that it might be too pretty. Holy Major7 chords in inversion… (Just in case you thought this entry couldn’t become even more music-theory-dorkified.)


Costas says

Great post - bravo, Ponto! And Derryl Gabel is my mother.

jeffh says

Bob's one of my heroes...

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