UNTITLED by Trevor Klee ‘15
d written after pianist Marc-André Hamelin performed on February 26, 2015 Marc-Andre is cursed. A boy of northern Floridian provenance, living on the more remote outskirts of Tallahassee, he is unable to play the music that he hears in his mind. His is a land of swamps, alligators, and snapping turtles, and the music of this land is that of the banjo and the drum, sounds that weave between and over the sloshing of water against muddy banks and the mating calls of bullfrogs. The music that Marc-Andre hears in his mind, however, is that of the piano. Tremolos, melodic fragments, triplet notes, tonal centers. It is a music for quiet landscapes, forests and rolling hills and fields. That is, at least, how Marc-Andre imagines it. Marc-Andre is also blessed, however. He is blessed twofold: with an unusual persistence and with the ability to stop time. The latter is likely more unusual a talent than the former, yet both are important to this story. You see, Marc-Andre discovered his ability to stop time only recently, and has been experimenting with it since. He has just found out how to manipulate sound while time is stopped, to move in between the heartbeats of the wetlands and produce music that has never before been heard in these backwoods. Now let’s turn to Marc-Andre himself. He stands on the bank of the creek, barefoot, toes slowly sinking into the mud. A curious crayfish stares up at him through the muddy water. It is not curious so much about the boy, although he is dressed oddly, in a ragged vest, torn khaki shorts, and a baseball cap worn through until it’s no more than string. The crayfish (or crawdaddy, to use local parlance) has seen humans wear stranger things. The crayfish is curious about the array of bells Marc-Andre has before him, which he has smuggled out of his school’s strangely overfunded music department. (It has to do with a complex embezzlement scheme being carried out by the superintendent, but that is a story for another time). Marc-Andre listens, carefully. At this time of year and this time of evening, the two most prominent sounds in rural north Florida are that of the cicada and the bullfrog, and their syncopation is slightly off, such that a sound (a bell ringing, for instance) may occupy a space in between them, a space of complete silence. This is what Marc-Andre is listening for. Cicada, bullfrog, pause, cicada, bullfrog, pause, cicado, bullfrog, there! Marc-Andre rings his bells, and, before the cicada has a chance to respond, he stops time. He now can work at his leisure. He carefully examines the air around each of the bell’s immediate locations. If he swirls the air just right, pushing some vibrations closer together, others further, expanding some, contracting others, he can create the first note of Mozart’s Sonata in D Major. After working for some time, or rather no time at all, Marc-Andre is at last satisfied with his work. He restarts time and holds his breath.