Techno Rondo

Arthur Grumiaux

Arthur Grumiaux

My room is dim and still, and I have sent my computer reaching into the labyrinth of the internet to break the silence with Mozart. I am looking for Grumiaux’s recordings of the string duos and trios. When I was younger, I once heard these pieces issuing tinnily from my cassette player; I had discovered a trove of dusty tapes, relics of the marriage of my parents who were musicians. I callously recorded over them, and it would be years before I knew the value of what I had destroyed. One of the tapes was not completely erased, and the exuberant strains of the G major duo still dwelt in the interstices between my puerile ditties. Frequent listening had ground those few bars indelibly into my mind, in the same space occupied by my childlike understandings of the mysterious Mozart piano sonatas that used to put me to sleep. I will soon hear them again, for the first time in years.

I notice on my display that there are three other computers whose owners are seeking the same music as I. By an egalitarian process of swapping bits and pieces, our computers will work together to ensure that we may all listen to Grumiaux’s fine playing. But who else would be longing for chamber music at 4:30 in the morning? My co-conspirators appear to me only as numbers, but I can trace these numbers in an attempt to find out where they live. The first trace bounces about in the local area before jumping to the Pacific Coast, linking me with a Californian, perhaps, whose music collection I am helping to bolster. Both of my traces visit the railroad hub of the US, Chicago. A hundred years ago, this was a waystation for immigrants and strivers; now my traces tarry there for but a millisecond. From Chicago, the first trace shoots via the gateway of New York to Lyon, France. The other heads directly to Ankara, Turkey’s patchwork capital. Each of these traces is a person searching for the same music as I am, and through the web we have found each other.

As my computer communicates silently with its foreign friends, it is snatching bits of music from the ether and slowly assembling them into a coherent whole; a blue bar indicates its progress. I can hear those old measures echoing in my head, as ghostly as the invisible pulses that represent them as they streak through fibers, cables, and finally the air. Finally, the entirety of the compilation is before me, and soon Grumiaux’s violin and Janzer’s finely-matched viola resonate from my laptop’s speakers. Suddenly the isolated bars of my youthful memory stand no longer in gnomic solitude, but in their proper context. The playing is sublime, but I am somehow disappointed. For years, those few snatches of music have shone starkly as signals of the unknown, like dark eyes piercing the translucence of a veil. Now their surpassing beauty has been revealed to me in full, but it is the work of a man, no longer of a god.

Submit comment