Ampeater Music

Welcome to Ampeater Music. You'll notice that we've totally stripped the design. We were getting tired of the old one, and the best way to force ourselves to fix it was to dive in head first. We've unpublished all our past posts, and we're starting at the beginning, revamping each entry one at a time. They'll all be back up on the site soon enough! In the meantime, we hope you'll take the opportunity to reacquaint yourself with our back catalog. We'll also be making incremental improvements to the look and functionality of our dear old Ampeater over the coming weeks and months. Please be patient, and stay tuned for some really cool stuff. It's coming, we promise.

AEM042 Order or Ardor

AEM042 Order or Ardor
  • Location: New York, NY
  • Personnel: Stuart Watson

My friend and musical companion Jeremy once gave me this advice when I told him I was having trouble writing songs: “Start with a philosophical concept and try to make the sound describe that concept.” It was an interesting, if startling method that I had never encountered before. Should music proceed from some base of an idea and build from there? Or do what we call “philosophical concepts” even have a place in music? Don’t we still put stock in the transcendence of the musical experience, in its absence of direct reference and metaphor? Only in a very restricted sense. As many worthwhile contemporary artists have proven, idea and form are mutually illuminating projects. One does not follow the other. They contain and advance each other.

And then there is the question of poetry. I mention poetry because it is so fine an example of how music is more complicated than we give it credit for when we examine it through a philosophical lens. How to delineate the spaces of music and language? How can we think of music as autonomous from “everyday experience” when its very essence is inscribed by Being, the most important entity in Heideggerian (and other influential) philosophy. Stuart Watson, who records under Order or Ardor, shows us how these issues must be met head on in music. His songs are the familiar imbued with a spiritual intensity that emits an inspiring radiance. Not only does Order or Ardor deal with “pure sound,” it deals with pure feeling, pure being and the dynamic play between those forces in carefully constructed auditory space. Watson is a towering intellect, so it comes as no surprise that his music deftly handles weighty themes while still remaining fun in sound.

Writes the man himself: “The band’s name is meant to evoke the Apollonian/Dionysian split described by Nietzsche in ‘The Birth of Tragedy’. In this project I am attempting to harness both intensity of feeling and clarity of composition; I want there to be a dynamic, almost dialectical tension between the elements in the songs themselves. In certain instances, generally my more experimental pieces, ardor wins out over order, as it were, but in other cases, ecstatic energies are reined in and dominated by the “songness” of a piece–passion in the service of reason, order over ardor.

“Musically I draw on Neil Young as a kind of ethical center, while Johnny Cash and Ian Curtis have had the most direct influence on my singing. I have a background in jazz guitar and bass, and that in some measure informs the kinds of songs I write. Among contemporary artists I have the highest respect for Larkin Grimm, Woods, Dirty Projectors, and Animal Collective; these people are making music that inspires me on a daily basis. Philosophy and poetry inform my writing on account of my day gig as an adjunct professor and English PhD student, but I try to keep my songs as direct as possible lyrically. Simplicity of expression is something I value, as are emotional openness and honesty, and I try to make music that reflects that. I am a believer in the visionary and transforming power of love. I am also an adherent to rationality. These two elements come into conflict, hence the band name. These songs were recorded by me in my studio, Deep Dark Carlos. “Borderlands” is a meditation on change, on transformation, on traveling through liminal spaces. “How I Am Blind” is a coming to terms with failed love. Both songs represent a version of the balance of order and ardor in my life.”

On A-side “Borderlands,” the self-ascribed Ian Curtis influence rings true, but as with other bands who draw inspiration from the Joy Division frontman (Interpol comes to mind), Order or Ardor has something deeper below the surface. The synth textures call to mind the grooves of Brian Eno’s otherworldly masterpiece, Another Green World. There are also hints of the restless post-punk experimentalism of Xiu Xiu. The drum machine has that crisp analogue sound of New Order and other similar 80s New Wave bands (it is in fact the same drum machine used by New Order). One shouldn’t take this as an act of gearheadism. Rather, this points to one of the more distinguishing features of Order or Ardor’s music—that is, the sound space in itself. Watson happens to be an expert producer (full disclosure: He’s engineering and producing my new album) with an uncanny ear for mix, richness and instrumental clarity. It’s a rare thing to have a musician with battling talents in songwriting and production, although I suppose in the age of laptop studios it’s becoming increasingly common. But this is more than just some slapdash home recording experiment. It’s the continuation of a method made possible by home studio heads like This Heat and Phil Elverum. In other words, having New Order’s drum machine in your studio, if you’re not a jive fool, means incorporating a texture that has great meaning for you after years of listening. By entering that sound into the mix, Watson is participating actively in music history, recycling and readapting sounds to create new combinations. This is how music goes forward (I hesitate to use the word “progresses”) and creates a somewhat coherent narrative instead of little style islands, episodic flashes in a vacuum

But let’s not get bogged down in historical musicology. Though Order or Ardor certainly provides a platform for waxing philosophic (like all good music), it’s also about enjoyment. Take B-side “How I am Blind” which places us into poppier territory than does “Borderlands.” An Aphex Twin-reminiscent drumbeat and humming synthesizer provide the perfect background for Watson’s pleasantly simple guitar progression. However, the brighter the pop song, they say, the darker its demons. “I showed how I am blind” intones Watson, simultaneously deadpan and crushingly emotive. Sad dance!

Ultimately, if these songs prove anything, it’s the overwhelming and inescapable presence of feeling in music. Scoff if you will at the idea of philosophy in music, but both derive from two important sources: Being and Feeling.

AEM041 Hot Sugar

AEM041 Hot Sugar

Nick Koenig, for one of his new songs, made a field recording of the wind, mapped the sound to a keyboard, and played out a melody on the breeze. OK Pocahontas. But seriously, this found-sound technique—which extends throughout Koenig aka Hot Sugar’s oeuvre—deserves some attention. Not in the sense that these kinds of excavations are new: over half-a-century’s worth of art music experimentalists and Japanoise terrorists have found ample sonic uses for everything from vacuum cleaners to plastic surgery procedures. What makes Hot Sugar interesting, however, is not the aesthetic extremism or aggressive anti-musicality of someone like, say, Merzbow, but rather the prettiness, catchiness, even humanism this artist extracts from these instrumental (but not instrument) materials. In the world of outre industrio-acoustic studies, this kind of pop-smithing amounts, ironically, to the opposite of conventionality, a length of particularly percussive copper piping swung at the hydrahead of No Fun conservatism. In Hot Sugar’s mellotron, tunefulness becomes radical.

I draw this parallel between Koenig and some of the more esoteric examples of tape-n-scrape not because the two sound anything alike, but because the connection shows that the term “noise music” is, and perhaps always was, kind of meaningless. Hot Sugar’s style, despite resembling some kind of crossbreed of 70s blaxploitation soundtracks, ambient house, and 8-bit video game themes, is nonetheless akin, at least in practice, to Einstürzende Neubauten tape-looping a crate of plates breaking in a dank German warehouse. But where Industrial purists misused machinery to create literal, albeit borderline unlistenable, portraits of urban decay, Hot Sugar solders the same base metals into something you could find on the radio, although maybe 500 years in the future, and in space.

A-side “Gus Sneaks Out,” might be what happens when you put a trunk-mounted subwoofer in a wind-up music box. How Koenig makes this stuff happen is still mostly a mystery to me, but while the tune is busy with whirrs and blips and cut-up stabs, it still thumps like a motherfucker–a form of lowrider music for the tiny, imaginary people who live under my floorboards. When we spoke, the man behind Hot Sugar mentioned that he was using vocalists and MCs for his upcoming full-length, and while it’s not hard to imagine someone spitting bars over this instrumental, it is hard to place, exactly, how such an addition would change the vibe. This music, despite the heavy-processing of its origins, still manages to come across as deeply, cellularly organic—even wooly. I’ve tried rapping on the track a couple of times, and although I’ve attempted using real words, the only thing that seems to sound even remotely correct is a kind of syncopated gorilla bark. This, I guess, is the real Jungle music.

“Juicing Up” is a slightly different story. A titular reference to consuming a juice box, and not, I believe, abusing steroids, the B-side contains one of the insatiably hooky lead-lines since “The Final Countdown,” the kind of melody that replicates itself virally inside your brain and causes breakouts at embarrassing times. This is mission music, the kind of thing you would listen to en route to the most important thing ever, and then listen to again on your way home. Fuck Ritalin. “Juicing Up” is like musical concentration from concentrate, archetypically empowering in the sense that it might actually make you think you’re the ubermensch, or at least his Game Boy screen doppelganger. Never let me drive to this song, because I’d focus on the road so hard I’d come to a complete standstill in moving traffic. No vocals here. No distractions either.

The point to these extended forays into personal anecdote is that Koenig’s music is, for samples culled from “things you can’t buy commercially” (as the artist says), well, personal. If quintessential noise music is alienating, then Hot Sugar’s noises are quintessentially emotional, the end result of an alchemical process by which all frequencies and found sounds can be rendered coextensive with the human soul.

AEM040 Verb the Adjective Noun

AEM040 Verb the Adjective Noun
  • Location: Los Angeles, CA
  • Links: Free Download
  • Personnel: Shay Spence, Alexander Krispin, Luc Laurent, Wayne Whittaker, James Bookert

Verb the Adjective Noun like crescendos. Listening to their EPs (available for free at the adorably named brought to mind my first time hearing fellow folk-rock screamers Okkervil River. Each song (with the exception of Ampeater A-side “Madeline” which is a born power-pop single if I’ve ever heard one) begins with something nondescript: a few simple strummed chords or a gentle fingerpicking riff. The verse melodies tend to be pleasant but not aggressive. They flow by easily at first, usually taking a detour through a catchy, relaxed instrumental interlude and then somehow, by the end of each track, somersaulting into an absolutely cathartic explosion, carried by the worn out, raw vocals: usually a creaky baritone doubled in octaves by an expressive, quavery second voice (actually at the climaxes Verb the Adjective Noun tend to just f*ckin’ go for it and overdub about 100 vocal tracks, but these two are the most prominent; check out the chorus of “Madeline” for an example). The effect calls to mind another Boston native who specializes in weaving the simplest melodies and harmonies into gold, Tim Howard of Soltero.

You may be wondering why I haven’t identified these vocalists or even songwriters by name. Well, the thing is, the band has such a cheery community persona that you’d probably have to trek out to LA and see them live to even find out who’s singing each song (the singers have seriously distinctive voices but I have no idea which band members they are). When I contacted them to ask about an Ampeater single my extremely friendly, exclamation-happy correspondent neglected to even sign the emails with anything but “Verb”. I guess it’s possible that they answer emails collectively (the image of five dudes clustered around a laptop arguing about whether to close the email with “radical!” or “awesome!” is almost irresistible), but really what this means is that this is a band, not some collection of dudes biding their time before they can launch their own solo projects. This spirit is crucial to any band that has multiple songwriters. There’s always the danger in such situations that the personalities of the frontmen can diverge so violently that it’s like listening to two different bands, but Verb puts up a consistently unified front. If the seams are there, they’ve been spackled over with precision, and the resulting music has that perfect band chemistry that manages to bring out the strengths of each member and keep any indulgences in check.

Verb the Adjective Noun formed in early 2008 as a trio composed of songwriters Shay Spence, Alexander Krispin, and Luc Laurent, and recorded their debut EP Novella in a church in the summer of 2008. They followed it up in December with Reds, from which these two songs are culled, adding Wayne Whittaker and James Bookert to the live band to fill out the incredibly expansive sound of tracks like “Madeline” with its tolling bells and booming drums. The enormity of the drum sound on this track cannot be overstated. It sounds like the drums on The Soft Bulletin, like someone beating on planets with columns of fire.

As I mentioned above, “Madeline” has has all the marks of a song that magically descended from above and poured out of some lucky dude’s guitar perfectly intact, like Athena leaping out of Zeus’s head. You can always tell when you hear these songs. They’re the kind that come into existence effortlessly, and you know that when the songwriter finished them and sat back for a second, he thought “whoa, what just happened?” Like all great pop songs, it has that mysterious whole that is so much more than the sum of its melodic and harmonic parts, which, as per Verb the Adjective Noun’s mission statement, are all “simplicity and raw energy.” The chorus itself is just pure, gooey, pop joy, but the more you listen to the song the more you begin to see how everything else is perfectly placed: the bell sounds during the breaks that just crack the song wide open, the switch of the chorus drum feel right at the word “Madeline”, the breakdown and huge crescendo just when you thought the song was over (an old trick, but there’s a reason it’s still around: it works), the shivery, tense guitar solo that manages to be just totally naturally weird (like, Jeff Tweedy on painkillers weird) without disturbing the essential pop core of the song. Another layer leaps out with every listen.

B-side “Oh! Catastrophe,” despite its trendily placed exclamation point, brings the folk rock origins of the band more to the fore. The lyrics concern what seems to be a nastily failed relationship that culminates in the narrator burning down his apartment (take my everything / leave me smoldering). It hinges on that semi-secret relationship between disaster and freedom, in which a certain joyful liberation comes from losing everything you have in a traumatic and sudden way. The music is slow build set to a loping 6/8, filled out by a shimmering organ and what sounds like a vibraphone, both metallic, light sounds that seem to mirror the lyrical fire. The vocals pull back hard on the time, shivering with emotion at the ends of lines, and building up through an organ led instrumental break and into the big catharsis of the last chorus, where the song leaps to the minor four, always a good move for a climax, and the vocals howl “do your worst to me” over and over with an energy that could be either despair or elation. It’s way too risky to be cool, and there’s something to be said for that.

Verb the Adjective Noun is still a young band, and you can be sure that their sound is still developing, pushing against the energy boundaries of acoustic instruments (the volume difference between the two EPs is dramatic) and perhaps towards the sound laid out in power pop tracks like “Madeline.” Still, no matter what direction they head in, you can be sure that the richly beating hearts behind their dynamic early work will keep simplicity, energy and warm, breathing humanity at the core of their songs.

AEM039 Pistolera

AEM039 Pistolera
  • Location: Brooklyn, NY
  • Links: Website
  • Personnel: Sandra Velasquez (vox, guitar), Maria Elena (accordion), Inca B. Sat (bass), Ani Cordero (drums)

“mujer terrorista, feminista, mexicana, americana, condenada, peligrosa… pistolera.”

Pistolera, like many of the bands featured on The Ampeater Review, hails from Brooklyn but their heart lies over the border. And no, I’m not talking about Queens. The quartet, which features Sandra Velasquez (vocals, guitar), Ani Cordero (drums), Inca B. Satz (bass), and Maria Elena (accordion), plays an energetic blend of ranchera, cumbia, and rock.  Velasquez’s percussive guitar and Satz’s reggae-tinged bass grooves lines would be standard enough fare in Brooklyn’s dives, but Elena’s peppy accordion-driven melodies and Cordero’s distinctly Latin percussion, not to mention lyrics entirely in Spanish, evoke the small-town cantina mexicana.

The first time I saw Pistolera perform was at AS220 in Providence, RI in the winter of 2006, before a small but enthusiastic crowd. The band was less than a year old and didn’t yet have an album under their belt. Nevertheless, they were overflowing with energy and managed to bring a crowd of skeptical hipsters to their feet. My knowledge of Spanish, still far from perfect, was then rudimentary at best, so I wasn’t paying much attention to the lyrics. I was just having a blast. The groove was unstoppable. During extended breakdowns the whole band would take shifts on cowbell or clapping out complex clave rhythms. I picked up a copy of their self titled EP and have been tracking them ever since.

Over the past few years, Pistolera has come along way. The world is finally beginning to take note of this underappreciated band. In addition to gigging across the United States, they recently performed at the Montreal Jazz Festival and have toured in Europe and Mexico. They’ve shared the stage with many prolific acts including Lila Downs, Los Lobos, and Vieux Farka Touré. I suppose that Lila Downs and Los Lobos are logical enough pairings since both play music not unlike Pistolera’s, albeit Downs with a more prominent jazz influence and Los Lobos leaning more toward rock. But what about Malian singer and guitarist Touré? Frankly, I think Pistolera could be a hit in almost any niche. Luckily they don’t try to pigeonhole themselves.

Pistolera has recently recorded two full length LPs. Their debut Siempre Hay Salida (There’s Always a Way Out) was released in 2006 and followed up by En Este Camino (On This Road) in 2008. Both albums were produced by Grammy award-winning producer Charlie Dos Santos and sound top notch, with additional instrumentation pushing the band’s already festive sound to new levels.

As I mentioned, the first time I heard Pistolera I didn’t catch the lyrics but since then I’ve given them a lot of thought. The name Pistolera is Spanish for female gunslinger and Sanrda Velasquez, who writes most of the band’s material, is a true pistolera. Don’t be fooled by the peppy rhythms and joyous melodies… she means business. The music is deceptively lighthearted and the lyrics pack a strong political punch. Her socially conscious songs address issues such as immigrants’ rights, war, racism, feminism, and life on the border.

These aren’t songs of rebellion in a vague or disjointed sense. These are struggles that the Mexican-American women of Pistolera have a strong personal connection to. And so, we return to the epigraph, “mujer terrorista, feminista, mexicana, americana, condenada, peligrosa… pistolera!” which is incidentally the final line of A-side “Policía” (Police). The words lose a lot of their elegance in English, but here’s a rough translation: “terrorist woman, feminist, Mexican, American, condemned, dangerous, PISTOLERA.” Few phrases could better describe Velasquez. Edgy and autobiographical, in “Policía” she attacks the xenophobic and racist police who’ve unfairly targeted her.

Me tratan como un criminal, como una traicionera.
Mujer terrorista, peligrosa pistolera.
Señor policía, hay una explicación.
No es lo que piensa es que soy músico.
Las balas que encontró guardadas en mi estuche, no seran usadas pa’ echar tiros a nadie.
Señor policía, le digo la verdad.
Si soy peligrosa pero no con las armas.

They treat me like a criminal, like a traitor.
Terrorist woman, dangerous pistolera.
Mr. Policie officer there is an explanation.
It is not what you think, it’s that I am a musician.
The bullets that you found inside my suitcase will not be used to shoot anyone.
Mr Police officer I am telling you the truth.
I am dangerous, but not with guns.

“Policía” has become somewhat of an anthem for the band. Velasquez explains, “[it] is a crowd favorite at shows. It’s why we decided to make it our first music video for En Este Camino” (see the video here).

Like the lyrics, the video chronicles a hostile encounter between Pistolera and the police. The band shows up to a gig but a security guard (who looks suspiciously like a Federal Agent) refuses to let them through the door. The scene could be viewed as an extended metaphor, the band turned away at the door like immigrants turned away at the border. In typical Pistolera fashion, while the lyrics are provocative, the music is free and happy. A strong ranchero rhythm and persistent cowbell keep the pulse going. The music video captures this contrast well. Spliced with shots of the band being stopped by guards are shots of them on stage inside the club, playing their hearts out before a dancing crowd. In this case, there’s a happy ending. The guard is pulled inside the club and as his sunglasses and tie are stripped away, he begins to feel the rhythm and dances along. If only it were that simple.

B-side “Un Momento” (One Moment) is not a typical Pistolera song. In fact, Velasquez explains that she included it on this digital 7-inch precisely because it’s so different from most of Pistolera’s material. “A true B-side, it shows another side of the band.” The recording is heavily orchestrated. A tuba grunts along with the bass line and a clarinet noodles playfully between vocal lines. Throw in accented downbeats with snare hits on the two and four, and you’ve got something reminiscent of Louis Armstrong or Bix Beiderbecke. But the minor tonality and Elena’s somber accordion melody completely recontextualize whatever’s been evoked. Both peppy and mournful, if “Un Momento” is one thing, it’s determined. It’s as if the band is telling us to march on in spite of whatever hardships lie in this path, en este camino.

The lyrics deal with loss although exactly who or what is lost is slightly ambiguous. A lover, friend, a mentor, a parent, a homeland, a part of herself…they’re cryptic and poetic and beautiful.

“Siempre me dijiste que algun dia tendrias que irte.
No te queria creer aunque nunca me mentiste.”

“You always told me that you would have to go one day.
I didn’t want to believe you, even though you had never lied before.”

So what’s up next for Pistolera? Currently they’re taking some time off from touring to work on not one but two albums, to be released in 2010. One will be a normal Pistolera album, the other will be a kid’s album. WAIT, backup…. a kids’ album? On their website the band explains, “the three women of Pistolera are all mothers, and this project could not have been born without the knowledge and experience that comes with being a parent. We are really excited and look forward to giving our younger audiences something they can easily sing along to in English and Spanish!” There are plenty of parents who play Mozart for their children, but for those of us who want to raise bilingual kids, perhaps this is a bit more pragmatic. All I ask is that nobody gives me a hard time if I want to sing along at 23.

AEM038 Little Women

AEM038 Little Women
  • Location: Brooklyn, NY
  • Personnel: Darius Jones (alto sax), Travis Laplante (tenor sax), Andrew Smiley (guitar), Jason Nazary (drums)

If I learned anything as an Anthropology major in college, it’s that when we speak of “human nature” we’re almost always talking about culture. Countless ideas and institutions deemed natural for the human spirit are in fact part of a complex web of learned vocabulary. Take the Western notions of consonance and dissonance, the supporting base of musical tonality. It is in no way apparent a priori that certain tone combinations are pleasing while others are unrefined or disagreeable. Clearly, tonality is as much a constructed system as ethics, something which is produced by (not before) human interaction and disseminated, with constant re-adaptations, from generation to generation. An invocation of the musical philosophy of John Cage is appropriate here: “The first question I ask myself when something doesn’t seem to be beautiful is why do I think it’s not beautiful. And very shortly you discover that there is no reason.” This quote has always haunted me because I think it penetrates the problem of the question of music. What is and is not music, the obsession with exclusionary division, has marked every stage of Western musical history. Combining Cage’s challenge of traditional aesthetic binaries (reflected in tonality’s consonance and dissonance) with the insights of anthropological thought, we see that the resolution of this historic problem is to nullify the binary by looking beyond our present cultural systems and imagining new systems awaiting to be forged. It shouldn’t be as scary as it sounds. As Cage puts it, “I can’t understand why people are frightened of new ideas. I’m frightened of the old ones.” Doesn’t the very health of our cultural spirit depend on an understanding of where we have been and where we can go? Are we to remain forever trapped in an outdated mode of thinking about sound? There are plenty of artists that understand this imperative, but the larger cultural landscape must recognize that sound is sound and must be reckoned with in any context.

Brooklyn’s Little Women understand the issues at stake here. The quartet, comprised of Darius Jones (alto saxophone), Jason Nazary (drums), Travis Laplante (tenor saxophone) and Andrew Smiley (guitar) deal in sounds that present a real challenge to traditional notions of beauty and pleasure. It takes about 1 second of listening to A-side “[1] Untitled” from the Teeth EP to hear what I mean. A waterfall of high-pitched shrapnel comes raining down without warning. The drummer sounds like a robotic octopus gone haywire. It’s not all sonic warfare here, however. About a minute in, some serious rhythmic unison interrupts the free-jazz tapestry being woven previously. Another minute goes by and suddenly the rhythm section has disappeared. We’re floating in a saxophone cloud assembled by Ornette Coleman’s long-lost evil brother. A roaring punk section rips us out of that zone. Proving that “out” music doesn’t necessarily mean pathological melody-aversion, the last few minutes of the song ride out on a pretty serious hum-dinger (well, before dissolving into another atonal freak-out at the end for good measure).

At this point, some of you faithful readers may be questioning my commitment to this Cagean Zen philosophy of “everything is beautiful.” After all, there are certainly some parts of the song we just listened to that would really stretch the essence of the word “beautiful.” Isn’t the point rather that ugliness has its place in music alongside its glorified Other? It’s important to remind ourselves here of the precarious nature of cultural ideals with large amounts of stock. Our theories of musicality and aural pleasure are like an anesthetizing distraction from all the directions we artists and art consumers have to choose from. Who said music had to be beautiful all the time? Or is there even a transformation effect, where beauty becomes displeasing and the base reclaims the upper hand? Walter Benjamin prophesied that man’s aesthetic telos was to find beauty in its own self-annihilation. The question then remains: Why can’t there be a place for the grating, the deranged, the violent in our musical universe?

As a perfect example of the grating, the deranged and the violent in music, let us now turn to Side-B “[4] Untitled” from the same EP. The song starts off with a dissonant (gotcha!) foghorn which at one point inexplicably begins dueling with bagpipes (not actually). After a minute or so of this raw bleating, the main event begins. Someone fingers a saxophone almost inaudibly while the remaining band members whimper into microphones like scared children. This continues until these grown men (not Little Women) are screaming like possessed lunatics. Then, they growl like animals and slowly die out. It’s sick, disturbing and incredibly powerful. I find the theatricality of this piece really interesting. It’s a forward-thinking composition that introduces new realms to me. If you find this stuff intolerable, I don’t blame you. But before you write it off as “unlistenable” or whatever, think about the language you’re using to describe these sounds. Think why you’re turned off by it and what this has to do with your learning of a certain system of musical signs. Invoking Cage again, “If something is boring after two minutes, try it for four. If still boring, then eight. Then sixteen. Then thirty-two. Eventually one discovers that it is not boring at all.”