Monday, May 05, 2008

Professor McJeebie's Guilty Pleasures

Professor McJeebie has been tagged by the young whipper-snapper, Molly Sheridan, who, despite her comments in this interview, has now started her own blog.

The rules of the meme:

1. Pick up the nearest book.
2. Open to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the next three sentences.
5. Tag five people, and acknowledge who tagged you.

One of my guilty pleasures as a seasoned and well-respected composer is the occasion to spend some time surreptitiously with the series of composer-oriented romance novels by the writer known as "Maestro Bater." His latest is called Ictus Firmus .

It was the most sensual choral concert she had ever experienced. And as she listened to the prepubescent vibrations of the children's orgiastic unisons, she thought back to her childhood. She remembered how she would take her clothes off at the doctor's office, thinking, "My body is changing, and I don't want anybody else to see it."

I am tagging music students who maintain blogs, since they seem so determined to ignore their studies and procrastinate:

Ben Moh
Zachary Toporek
北京女孩儿
Jason Heath
Nameless Postmodernist

Saturday, March 08, 2008

McJeebie in North Korea

I am pleased to announce that I will be taking my TANDY Virtual Orchestra to the needy citizens of North Korea, following in the footsteps of Maestro Loren Maazel and the New York Philharmonic. Thanks to a generous grant from the Universal Music Foundation, the communist aristocracy and corporate investors who oversee North Korea's slave trade will be exposed to the complexities of computer music. In many ways, a TANDY composer is like a communist dictator. The worker-computer submits to the will and the cultivated intellect of the composer, and the results benefit the entire human race. I will be composing a new piece entitled "Progressive Variations on a Proliferation Theme" on the special occasion of this North Korean concert.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

In Memoriam - Tipsy Wonkersen

Tipsy Wonksersen was the man who unwittingly started last week's three-alarm fire at the Hotel Cadillac, but he was so much more than that.

Tipsy was a man who believed that composing music should take precedence over the nonsense of everyday life. It's no secret that he never bathed. He claimed to use deodorant, but we all knew it was just that "magic stone" kind from the hippie stores.

Tipsy would search for his muse in the shadows and back-alleys of Rochester -- the occasional abandoned automobile, the dumpsters behind The Brasserie. But he did more than just study the unfortunates. He believed in taking inspiration away from them and using his music to tell their stories. Imposing the rigor and formality of classical music onto their haphazard lives, Tipsy gave them a gift that only the astute composer can give -- the gift of a masterpiece!

From this day forward, the Hotel Cadillac will provide an annual Wonkersen Scholarship to support the costs of hiring an unpaid intern for my Composer Isolation Chamber.

Thank you, Tipsy, for all you've given us. It is a blessing that your music will live far beyond your mortal flesh.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Libertarians Unite!

As promised, I am posting an excerpt from the symphonic tone-poem I composed for Senator John McCain's presidential campaign. For the purposes of maintaining copyright infringement, I am using my original title, "Libertarians Unite!"

Click here to listen.

In this segment, one can hear the ominous dissonances of terrorism building to a crescendo which is then thwarted by the tip-toeing frolics of a liberal elite, represented by the flute. Fortunately, Senator McCain steps in before things get too pretty. He is represented by the percussion and the "When Johnny Comes Marching Home" theme in the brass.

As the piece progresses, Senator McCain allows Libertarians to live side by side as competitive individuals, enjoying the best of the best while leaving the rest to the rest. The Senator thanked me for the composition and recommended that I secure an Eastern European orchestra that would be willing to record the symphonic work if I can acquire $5,000 in the next five days.

That's where you come in! All you have to do is send a PayPal donation in the mail to

Prof. Heebie McJeebie
Hotel Cadillac
Room 469
45 Chestnut Street
Rochester, NY, 14604

Many thanks, dear readers!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The Professor Returns

Patient Readers, I have returned to the blogosphere after a prolonged absence during which I served as Technology Consultant for John McCain's presidential campaign. Despite the protestations of my German role model -- the feminist-in-wolf's-clothing, William Osborne -- I chose to suspend my bloggership until all partisan political business subsided.

Next week, I will post the recording of McCain's presumptive, symphonic theme, composed by yours truly. The McCain campaign rejected my original title, "Libertarians Unite!," in favor of the more preemptive title, "A Symphonic Ode to the United States: We Shall Never Surrender."

In other news, I was not at the Hotel Cadillac during today's two-alarm fire, but I believe I know who was responsible. There's only one person who would run his air-conditioning unit during such inclimate weather. My colleague, Professor Tipsy Wonkersen -- most famous for his electronic composition that plays constantly near the Rochester waterfall -- sacrificed his life in order to keep his Casiophonic Water Organs in an always-frigid environment. May he rest in peace.


Wednesday, July 18, 2007

UNKNOWN MASTERS #2 - Knisha Vløgstøffer

I first met Knisha Vløgstøffer in my Composer Isolation Chamber back in 1994. She was the cleaning lady. She still makes a living that way, but I've taken her under my wing to cultivate in her a sense of compositional astution akin to my own. Over decades of strenuous training, Knisha has finally composed her first piece, MACHINATIONS for Penny Whistle and Tape. I'm pleased to host an excerpt from that piece on Classical Pontifications:

MACHINATIONS for Penny Whistle and Tape

Professor McJeebie: Why did you write a piece for penny whistle instead of a more virtuosic, traditional instrument?
Vløgstøffer: I am simple cleaning lady. I write the simple instruments. It have desired many times for to play the penny whistle, like a dog desires to have a dog food. I make the penny whistle to express for myself.
Professor McJeebie: Why do you feel the need to express yourself?
Vløgstøffer: Only the penny whistle feels the need. The tape is no expressive.
Professor McJeebie: So, the tape part is where you find a true love for modern composition?
Vløgstøffer: Yes, sir.
Professor McJeebie: I'm sure our listeners will have a lot of questions for you after they listen to the excerpt. What would you like to say to answer their questions?
Vløgstøffer: Yes, sir, I have much so to say for the people who listen. The music for their ears and eyes is like a present from God. He gives to us a composition just like he gives unto to us a child, the baby Jesus. This composition for me is not less than the baby Jesus, the Messiah, but it is up to each and everybody to accept Jesus for themself. Just like that, they will want to accept Him and with my composition.
Professor McJeebie: Thank you, Mrs. Vløgstøffer, for the wonderful spiritual femininity you bring to modern composition. I'm sure our audience will appreciate your soft touch as much as I do.
Vløgstøffer: God bless you, Professor.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Professor McJeebie Declines White House Invitation

Dear President Bush,

I am writing to let you know why I am not able to accept your kind invitation to give a presentation at the Patriotic Computer Music Festival on September 24. In one way, it's a very appealing invitation. The idea of having 85,000 people listen to my Etude for Computer #142 - Faith in the Unheard is a magnificent prospect, especially in light of my recent community-building educational efforts in the tribal regions of Africa through which I exposed the ignorant tribespeople (especially the children) to the complicated cerebrations of computer-centric composition.

As a professor at the Hotel Cadillac, I have taught in many different settings: my office, a variety of classrooms, and even a lecture hall. As a teacher, I have created a lasting influence on the young men and slightly older women who wish to carry on my legacy.

When you have witnessed an African tribesperson - someone who doesn't understand civilized music in the least - learn to accurately notate the wheezing howls of his ritualistic ceremonies for inclusion in the Norton Anthology of Historically Accurate Transcriptions -- when you have seen this kind of progress, you can't help but wonder: Would it be better if all top-down decisions on behalf of democratic citizens are made by composers of the highest scholarly repute?

A distorted musical heritage, the dismissal of compositional counterpoint, and the general acceptance of the untruths of so-called "arrangements" -- all of these lamentable hand-me-downs have been embraced by your administration, with the utmost lack of respect for academic integrity.

So many American professors who had once felt pride in our country's musical reputation - at a diverse range of elite institutions such as Princeton, Yale, Columbia, Juilliard, the Hotel Cadillac and even its sister school at Eastman - now feel anguish and shame. They are ashamed of the current regime's use of virtual orchestras at presidential inaugurations, studio musicians at white house galas, and composers who are forced to "arrange" patriotic warhorses every time there is a pyrotechnic display.

This kind of musical ignorance must end. If it is not too late for Africa, then it is not too late for the United States of America.

Respectably,
Heebie McJeebie
TANDY Professor of Electronic Music
Hotel Cadillac

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Epic Symphony LEAKED!

Yesterday, I learned that my epic opus, "A Libertarian Symphony," had been leaked on the internet. I don't know who could have done this. Certainly it wasn't me.

This kind of irresponsible downloading is what prevents young composers from listening carefully to music. If you can download a Symphony in two minutes, then why would you spend more than two minutes listening to it? Whereas, if it takes you an hour to go to the music store, browse the displays, and wait in line, then you're more likely to spend an hour listening to the Symphony.

Naturally, it wasn't me who leaked the file on the internet, but it could be costing me millions of dollars in income, not to mention bandwidth. Since I am not guilty of leaking my own music on the internet, it must have been one of my students at the Hotel Cadillac. The administrative offices, after I informed them that I could not possibly have leaked the music myself, opened an investigation. I will keep you all informed of the progress. Please email me if you'd like to serve on the jury.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The Universal Language of Music

I just got back to Rochester after a month in Third-World Africa teaching young tribespeople how to listen to complicated musical compositions. The trip of African outreach and education was made possible by an Upstate Genius Grant that was awarded to me this year.

Needless to say, Africans don't use the internet, so I was unable to post to my blog while away. I returned to the U.S.A. last week, but I was ill from some foreign-born pathogens that doctors here could not identify. Serves me right for taking off my face mask when trying to communicate with the tribespeople and get them to understand English.

The difficulty of communication, especially in Third-World Africa, has led me to the conclusion that the only universal language is the language of music. For example, every tribesperson in Africa understood the basic tone of the tune, "There's a hole in my bucket, Dear Liza." They knew from the musical inflections and melodic contradictions that it was a song about conflict and disease. Even when the tune makes an appearance in my Concerto for Folk Song and Computer, with all its complexities and inaccessibilities, the tribespeople still recognize the danger. They become cautious and suspicious, just as you would be if you were scared of catching a incurable pathogen.

I plan to address these issues further in a course I'll be teaching in the fall named "The Universal Language of Music." If I play my chords right, I just might live up to the nickname my students have for me, "the Ayn Rand of electronic music."

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

The Isolated Composer

I thought I would take a cyber-moment and pay homage to the place where I do all of my composing – my specially designed Composer Isolation Chamber in the sub-basement below the regular basement of the Hotel Cadillac. Even when I’m supposed to be teaching courses at the Hotel Cadillac’s world-renowned School for the Natural and Inhibitive Arts, I have been known to spend weeks at a time submerged in my Composer Isolation Chamber, churning out my cerebral machinations and (yes) on occasion, my classical pontifications!

I built my Composer Isolation Chamber in 1987 and stocked it with complimentary computers from the Tandy Corporation. These computers are obsolete only in the sense that there is nothing else like them! They are extraordinary sinetone-powered devices, able to execute even my most complicated musical procedures, which are beyond human capacity. I haven’t completely shut out the hustle and bustle of recitals and concerts, but, having converted this former fallout shelter into a space for creative and mathematical thinking, I need not concern myself with the inadequacies of common performing musicians.

Occasionally I allow my students to use the Composer Isolation Chamber for a small rental fee, and a prime number of them have indicated that it is indeed a fine workspace – inspiring but not necessarily in a banal, inspirational sort of way; comforting in its constant claustrophobic sameness. It is a space where a composer feels free, in part because he is confined by so many limitations. For as the great composer, Held Projansky, once said, “Music always has the potential to be free, but first it must be notated correctly.”

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Poolitzer

It is amusing to me, dear readers, that so many well-meaning musical citizens get so “huffy mcpuffy” about the Pulitzer Prize being awarded to a non-composer such as Ornette Coleman and his big band orchestra. The Prize itself is only $10,000, and with a required entry fee of $50 and between 100 and 200 applicants in each category, the Pultizer makes almost as much money as it gives away!

Ten thousand dollars is not a lot of money, especially for a tenured professor such as myself. And as for “honor”... well, it remains to be seen if receiving the award gets you prestige, or if being prestigious gets you the award.

Given his gambling addiction (common among jazz “improvisers”), Mr. Coleman has probably already lost the money. The Pulitzer Prize committee has squandered its well-earned entry fees by handing them over to a drunken bum. It should come as no surprise to the committee that a drunken bum who refuses to follow the rules of music composition will certainly not follow the rules of the Pulitzer Prize application process.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

An Open and Shut Letter to Jeremy Denk via My Readers*

*(also submitted to the New York Times, the Washington Post, and The Discerning Pianist magazine)

Readers, I am very aware that the blogging pianist Jeremy Denk has taken note of Unknown Master Ariodney Hussington whom I interviewed in my previous blog entry. Unfortunately, Mr. Denk does not feel that Miss Hussington's compositions are as lovely and beautiful as she is.

It should be said that Miss Hussington is not a student of mine, as some have assumed. Rather, she is one of those young people who posts her life and work on MySpace and patiently waits for the fame to come to her. That's how I found her, and I am pleased to have done my part, after spending several hours with her in my Composer Isolation Chamber, to stretch her threshold as a lady composer. Whether Mr. Denk approves of her compositions or not is irrelevant. She will continue to make music and post it on MySpace, receiving royalties every time someone (like Mr. Denk) listens to her compositions.

It should also be said that, since I have not listened to Mr. Denk's piano-playing, he may very well be a quack himself! But I suspect that he, having performed the so-called "Fiddle Concerto" by the bloke Marc O'Connor, can relate to Miss Hussington's composition, "Simpleton Pleasures." There is no simpler instrument than the fiddle.

As he criticizes the work of a beautiful and attractive composer like Miss Hussington, Mr. Denk would do best to remain aware that his mind is limited, just as many of his piano performances are limited to only eighty-eight keys.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Unknown Masters - Ariodney Hussington


Readers, this is the first installment of a series entitled Unknown Masters in which I conduct a short interview with some of the most unrecognized composers of our time and provide samples of their compositions via PayPal. The first composer I’d like to feature is Ariodney Hussington, a young lady whose music I first encountered on the world wide web a few months ago. As you’ll read below in our transcribed interview, Miss Hussington is interested in the fusion of classical music with folk music and African-American jazz rhythms. Here are two excerpts of music from her compositions:

Chamber Symphony No. 6 – “Simpleton Pleasures” (
mp3)

Chamber Symphony No. 13 – “Jazz Improvisations” (mp3)

Prof. McJeebie: Miss Hussington, tell us about the musical structures behind your Chamber Symphony No. 6.
Ariodney Hussington: First, I’d like to thank you for having me.
McJeebie: You’re welcome.
[silence]
Hussington: Well, with Simpleton Pleasures I’m successfully combining the vernacular appeal of melodic simplicity and harmonic redundancy with the complicated tonal modulations of twentieth-century music and the rhythmic abstruseness of the French Overture, an often overlooked isorhythmic technique composers use to make rhythms bouncier and more angular than they are to begin with.
McJeebie: These tonal modulations you refer to, they happen every eight bars or so. It’s a remarkable shift in the music, making the simple tune sound very modern and shocking.
Hussington: Exactly! This is to convey the tragic and dirty lives of many simpleton people.
McJeebie: What composers, besides yourself, do you pay homage to in this symphony?
Hussington: The second tonal modulation happens one measure later than the first modulation, creating a kind of phase shift in the style of composer Steve Reich. Also in the second modulation, the bassoons get into that Rite of Spring range which is an homage to Stravinksy. And the fourth and final modulation returns us to the original tonal center, creating a form of A-B-C-A first utilized by the composer Ferde Grofé.
McJeebie: The clarinet trills remind me of Richard Stoltzman.
Hussington: Absolutely.
McJeebie: Let’s move on to Chamber Symphony No. 13. Were you influenced by the African-American rhythms of jazz?
Hussington: Yes, of course, I love African-American jazz, and the compositions of Stan Kenton and Dave Brubeck in particular.
McJeebie: It seems that you’ve introduced an odd instrument into the chamber ensemble – a trapped set of drums. What made you decide to use such a non-classical instrument?
Hussington: Originally, I wanted to use a saxophone, but I thought a drum set would be more authentic to jazz. But, unlike most jazz composers, I don’t allow the players to improvise. I’ve notated all of their parts, which allows me to fine-tune the overall sound I’m looking for. For example, I’ve found that using accent marks on the offbeats really enhances the swing feel and makes for a decidedly un-classical atmosphere. What I’m going for with the drum set – and with the flutter-tongued trumpet as well – is a sound-world in which all listeners can relate to what I have to say.
McJeebie: Why is the piece called Jazz Improvisations if there's no improvisation?
Hussington: There is improvisation, but it happens in the composer's head, and, actually, it already happened. It was in the past. So what you're hearing is a sort-of simultaneous compilation of all kinds of different improvisations that the composer was able to transcribe quickly.
McJeebie: There is also a French Horn part, hardly a common instrument at, say, the Blue Note Café or Spanish Harlem.
Hussington: I included a French horn part, but I’m not using the French Overture technique. As a matter of fact, in concert performances of Jazz Improvisations, the horn player is asked to tap his feet in a shuffle rhythm. When the audience sees the French horn player dancing, they usually get the hint that they’re not listening to classical music.
McJeebie: These two excerpts have fascinated me for minutes on end. Thank you so much for sharing your musical talents with us. I'm sure I speak for myself when I say that my readers and I wish you the best of luck with your compositions.
Hussington: Thank you, Professor. I’ve been a long-time admirer of yours and am honored to be the first composer featured in this series.
McJeebie: Which of my compositions do you find the most interesting?
Hussington: I think my favorite is Etude for Computer No. 17 Version D. There are so many wonderful etudes, though, it’s hard to choose a favorite.
McJeebie: Well then, why don’t you tell me what several of your favorite compositions are?
Hussington: I really like them all.
McJeebie: I understand. Thank you, Miss Hussington.
Hussington: You’re welcome, Professor.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Upstate Genius Grant

Readers, I am pleased to notify you that I have once again been nominated for the Upstate Genius Grant in Music Composition. Once every so often, on a regular basis, a panel of distinguished colleagues meets to select possible recipients of the award from among their distinguished colleagues. Generally, a few months pass before the final winner is selected through a delicate and rigorous process known as intellectually osmosified matriculationism.

I have received this grant many times and look forward to the possibility of receiving it again. Awards like these make it possible for me to continue earning a Professor’s salary while simultaneously taking a sabbatical during which I commission myself to compose a new magnum opus. I may also use the award to travel to impoversished nations such as Africa where modern composers are seen as gods by the locals. I often make a good deal of money selling CDs of my computer compositions to the African people.

I’d like to take this opportunity to congratulate the panel on its continuing reliability and pleasantly predictable recommendations.