The Curious Tale Home

Empire on Ice #17: E-Quadruple-Flat Major

Afiach: I was wondering…you're kind of late on your monthly music piece. Did you want any help?

Josh: Ah, Afiach. I'm almost finished with it. Just a few more masterstrokes…there…there…and behold! Come forth, and be the first to bear witness to the majesty of my "Concerto for E Trumpet in E-quadruple-flat Major"!

Afiach: That sounds rather, er, needlessly complex.

Josh: Long foretold has this day been. Now let the paragons of the music world fall upon their faces in awe, for my genius is as ineluctable as it is indescribable!

Afiach: Isn't "E-quadruple flat" just "C"?

Josh: Their enharmonic equivalence is of neither interest nor concern to me.

Afiach: But at least wouldn't you want a C trumpet for E-quadruple-flat major?

Josh: What, and fail to properly challenge the virtuoso who would aspire to perform this magnificent opus? I'd be laughed out of the concert hall. They expect to have to transpose the best music.

Afiach: And you're sure you mean an E trumpet? Not an E-flat one?

Josh: Oh, they make E trumpets. They're just exceedingly obscure. But that's part of the appeal, Afiach! The appeal! This is a frontier humanity has never approached, and I have single-handedly tamed it in 93 measures and a coda. What I have constructed here is the finest aural specimen in our history. What Beethoven dared not glimpse, I have perfected! The very premise of music itself has been elevated.

Afiach: [Reading through the sheet music.] This looks like a rearrangement of "What Is Love?"

Josh: Balderdash! This concerto is the epitome of brilliance. It is literally incomparable.

Afiach: I'm pretty sure this is Haddaway. Except…it's not in C—or, E-quadruple-flat.

Josh: [Overjoyed.] I know! That's the surprise! O, it's so utterly inspired. Just when the audience girds itself, I transmute the impossible into the ineffable!

Afiach: Do you have an intellectual property lawyer?

Josh: I fired her last month, knowing that this music will end litigation as we know it.

Afiach: What?

Josh: And bring humankind together in harmonious rapture!

Afiach: Like Bill and Ted?

Josh: They were visionaries, but incapable of moving beyond their own wooden acting. What I have done is bridge Nirvana and Valhalla!

Afiach: I've never seen a quadruple flat symbol before.

Josh: I made that up special myself.

Afiach: It looks like an upside-down "J."

Josh: That foreshadows the climax of the concerto. As well you know, flat is inherently inferior to sharp.

Afiach: Naturally.

Josh: And, therefore, by beginning flat I can then seize the reins of stupefaction. In the climax, I modulate from E-quadruple-flat to A-triple-sharp. Sounds good, doesn't it? "A-triple-sharp." Like a credit rating. And a triple sharp symbol looks like a "J." Oh, I'm so clever I can barely stand it!

Afiach: Isn't "A-triple-sharp" just "C" again?

Josh: Afiach! I would expect more from you.

Afiach: Well, I do have to hand it to you for making the sheet music hard to read. That should provide extra…challenge…for the performers.

Josh: Yes, rather than put key signatures at the front, I've marked the appropriate accidentals on every individual note, so that the performers don't forget.

Afiach: How could they?

Josh: You know, I'm going to have to anticipate the very real possibility that they'll retroactively award me all the Grammies they've previously given out to anybody else.

Afiach: Would they really do that?

Josh: They would pretty much have to. [Thinks.] I'm going to need to put an extension on my Hall of Honors.

Afiach: It's already twelve miles long. I think Grave Black got lost in there once. It's rather tortuous, for a hallway.

Josh: But you have to admit it's cool.

Afiach: Oh, I admit that. My Hall of Honors is just a shelf. So, anyway, it looks like you don't need my help.

Josh: Not that I don't love your folksy touch, Afiach! But I've achieved something here that without exaggeration can be called the pluperfect ultimate.

Afiach: Well, that's good. I look forward to hearing it played!

Josh: It might be a while.

Afiach: Oh?

Josh: Yeah. I've already written letters to the finest symphony orchestras in the world, introducing them to the music and preemptively telling them that although they're well and good at music in general, they'd be like a bunch of morons when it came to performing the epitome of art, for in their hands my concerto would sound as Beethoven in the hands of a toddler. I told them that if they combined their very best virtuosos and trained for thirty years, perhaps, maybe, with luck and miracles, they'd just barely be able to do the most minimum modicum of homage to the vitality and radiance of my masterpiece.

Afiach: That seems…provocative.

Josh: They know it's true. They'll feign indignation to save face, but what I have really done is set in motion a rivalry between them that will serve as the crucible in which to forge the finest musicians of all time! Muah ha ha ha hah!

Afiach: I suppose you've got it all figured out. I guess I'll see you later?

Josh: Oh, about that! I'm afraid I have to cancel on musical chairs tonight.

Afiach: Why?

Josh: Well, I haven't actually heard this thing played back yet, so I'm going to transcribe it into midi and hear it that way.

O day and night, but this is wondrous strange!