At the New School once I was substituting
for Henry Cowell, teaching a class
in Oriental music. I had told
him I didn’t know anything about the subject.
He said, “That’s all
right. Just go where the
records are. Take one out.
Play it and then discuss it
with the class.” Well, I took
out the first record. It was
an LP of a Buddhist service.
It began with a short microtonal chant with
sliding tones, then soon settled
into a single loud reiterated percussive beat.
This noise continued
relentlessly for about fifteen minutes
with no perceptible variation.
A lady got up and screamed, and
then yelled, “Take it off.
I can’t bear it any longer.”
I took it off. A man
in the class then said angrily,
“Why’d you take it off?
I was just getting interested.”