you all know, P.D.Q. Bach (1807-1742)? was the obscure 21st of Johann
Sebastian’s 20 children. His large and varied oeuvre first came to
light in 1954, thanks to the untiring exertions of American academic Peter
official Web site,
efforts have even extended themselves to mastering some of the rather
unusual instruments for which P.D.Q. liked to compose, such as the
left-handed sewer flute, the windbreaker, and the bicycle.
though, Schickele has spent decades excavating, restoring and performing
the unique compositions of this eccentric composer. In her The Tin
Voice Laughed (Issue 10, November 1998), Olive Conduit mentioned three
— The Civilian Barber, Hansel and Gretel and Ted and Alice (an
Opera in One Unnatural Act) and Fanfare for the Common Cold.
Equally picturesque are
Little Nightmare Music
less well-known than P.D.Q. was his Caledonian cousin. Often unofficially
referred to as “KacMac”, this distant relative’s real name was Kenneth
Archibald Campbell mac Bile Bach. He eked out an existence as a
cook-cum-musician in Edinburgh some time in the mid 18th century. Not as
prolific as P.D.Q., KacMac did manage, however, to dream up several small
culinary works plus three or four equally slight musical ones.
the latter was his Dance Suet in C, subtitled Octet for Solo
Haggis and Seven Absentee Woodwinds. As you can see from the bassoon
part reproduced below, florid it ain’t. But what it lacks in counterpoint
it more than compensates for in the noxious minced tripe that constitutes
the solo part.
critics have discerned in the stomach-churning cadenza a foretaste of 20th
century twelve-tone music. Other commentators have actually heard the
torment of the bottomless pit itself. (Offhand, I’d say it amounts to the
same thing, but who am I to pick holes in editorial chatterings — or
inedible chitterlings, for that matter?)