Writings about Music

Beetle and Beatle

It was surprising to read recently of an Oxford professor who gives lectures including how aliens are living among us now. In a jocular mode, though some would consider this not so jocular, if we were to assume he is correct, I wonder what music the aliens would deem most advanced and sophisticated? My guess is they might go for David over Goliath. That is, music for Meruvina; a name I coined for various configurations of software and hardware used by a single person, over symphony orchestras. I prefer to live in two worlds at once with music: the traditional and the avant-garde. How to? One approach is to worship that which transcends both: quality; the same concept applying to diverse musical genres. We have a tendency to equate the words classical and quality, but, to begin with, European musical traditions have no superiority over those from America, largely from African American influence, and India; quite the contrary since the middle of the twentieth century. Thus, the word “classical” is in play and not set, and using that word for convenience contradicts actual meaning sowing unintended confusion and mendacity.

One imagines if, unlike us, aliens have a planet anthem as opposed to myriad national anthems. Of if someday earth adopts an overall planetary anthem. Focusing in on one intriguing detail from the aliens among us theorists linked to the Oxford professor, I read that some believe of the various alien forms, ones with insect appearances are the most advanced. Last weekend, while entering a friend’s house, on the outside wall to the side of the front door, I noticed the most exquisite insect, perhaps a beetle. It had a green body with pink wings and gold arms and legs, looking at me with two tiny black eyes, perhaps hoping I didn’t see him or her. I had a photo taken because this could be a fantastic jewelry design. I suppose if their theories were true, this would be the best form of camouflage! Of course, some said at the time of their emergence that the Beatles (their name derived from the female members of a motorcycle gang in the film “The Wild One”) were from another planet given the extraordinary originality and substance of their inventions. I had the pleasure of enjoying the company of George Harrison one memorable evening in Lahaina, and while he was an extremely unusual person, he seemed very human. Speaking of love, Harrison’s song, “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”, is about nothing less than saving earth. 

- Michael Robinson, May 2019, Los Angeles


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Michael Robinson is a Los Angeles-based composer and writer (musicologist).