It’s the same every year. The X number of shopping days left until X-mas dwindle past until the very last minute, which, as it turns out, is the exact same moment you realize that you don’t have a clue what to get anybody. If this year’s gift list includes a composer, let me help you procrastinate by offering some irreverent, impractical, and impossible gift ideas for the musical auteur in your life.
Know any composers who take themselves a little too seriously? Unleash their inner Sarah Silverman by enrolling them in a stand-up comedy class. Yes, it’s time to grab one of those Learning Annex brochures.
If “I get my best ideas in the shower” sounds familiar, why not set up a workstation for them, complete with waterproof markers and sketchpad? You can get really creative with this one. Just think, no more brilliant ideas will disappear down the drain.
Tired of seeing that same 20-year-old black and white headshot turn up in the papers? Give that composer a professional photo shoot. Fear of photographers? No problem. Hire an artist to draw a cute little caricature. Please, anything but that over-recycled photo.
La piece de resistance: The complete abolition of transposition. Really, it’s the gift that will keep on giving, benefiting countless future generations of composers and musicians. Think about it. Beginning in 2006, a grandiose New Year’s resolution—from this point forward all music is taught in “concert pitch.” Hey kid, that trumpet that we told you was in Bb, forget about it. No, that’s not an F#, it’s an E. Yeah, same goes for you too, clarinet. Oh, god, you poor violist, no wonder nobody ever writes anything for you! Kiss that silly alto clef goodbye.
In all seriousness, wouldn’t it be great. Granted, the immediate learning curve would be painful, but after the normalization process is complete, everyone will wonder why this wasn’t the way things were done in the first place. Of course I don’t want to be the guy in charge of transposing all the orchestral warhorses into the new universal transpositionless system. Someone please run with this idea, especially if you have a snappy surname. I’d hate for this great idea to end up with an unfortunate name like the Nordschow System. And while were at it, is anyone up for the metric system? It makes so much more sense!