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Ice Cream

a tasteless odyssey

for tape


I took a class taught by Aaron Cassidy at Northwestern titled "Music at the Limits", in which we examined the extremes of music; the extremes of length (milliseconds up to 6-hour performances), the extremes of playability (John Cage and Iannis Xenakis), the limits of authenticity (George Rochberg, DJ Spooky's sample culture). The final project was to create a piece of music that tested the limits of some aspect of music. I decided to write a piece of recorded music that toyed with the limits of taste and tackiness. In the process I discovered how personal an opinion taste was, and was confronted with some of my biases toward music. It is a very subjective matter, taste.

This piece is in four sections, each exemplifying a style that lends itself to schmaltz and tacky interpretation, and each is coupled with lyrics that lie on the boundaries of comfort and purpose. The first section is generic house music, coupled with the most banal of lyrics (with an intentionally bad sax solo by the in-fact-very-talented Caroline Davis). The second section is trashy grunge rock, complete with lyrics about the love of intoxication (and another poor solo, on guitar by Lee Weisert). The third section emulates cheap 80's new wave, with washy, completely nonsensical lyrics. The final section is a bubbly polka, bizarrely coupled with raunchy sexual lyrics (sung by Chipmunks, of course). Each section is awkwardly glued together by other genres and sound effects.

My final piece was accompanied by an essay detailing the topic of taste and tackiness, as well as a complete description of all the intentionally tacky compositional choices I made along the way.

This piece is actually an inspiration for some conceptual ideas that occurred to me later…

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