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.”