AOEA Aliens of Extraordinary Ability
05 Oct 2012 | WORLD

Short Stories



Giovanni Giacomo Gastoldi (ca. 1554 - 1609)

Giovanni Giacomo Gastoldi (ca. 1554 - 1609)

Italian Renaissance composers. Your local contacts don’t even know who Giovanni Gastoldi was. The local music shop “La Estrella” obviously doesn’t carry his “Magnificat a Otto Voci”, and you’ve run through the phonebook looking for orchestra players in neighbouring towns, schools and even libraries. Nobody has it, and if they did, they wouldn’t be very thrilled at the prospect of letting you borrow their exotic piece of printed music. Amazon and Ebay certainly have it, but at age 16 and living in Xalapa as a conservatory student, shelling out over $40 USD for a piece of printed music, no matter how exquisite, is just not an option –after all, a delicious 4-course “Comida Corrida” at any “Fonda” will only set you back 2 to 3 box. Add to that the fact that oftentimes sellers won’t ship internationally. So, what are you to do? After weeks of trying, you finally manage to get a hold of an old émigré friend of a friend, who after some phone chitchat confesses to owning the part you’ve been looking for. At this point of course, getting on a bus to Cuernavaca for 5 hours to “take a look at it” seems like a small price to pay. Big mistake! When you get there, the obstacle course has just begun….Following the usual niceties, your new acquaintance Ikaro starts behaving erratically…. He now wants you to audition for him in order to prove that you are an actual violinist (because the permanent hickey on your neck is not enough), and when you protest and politely let him know that unfortunately you don’t carry your instrument everywhere you go, kaboom! he magically produces two dusty fiddles of dubious origin, all yours to clean down and tune up. His violins are no Stradivarius (is plural Stradivarii? of course you check anyways just to make sure) but you clean them up and tune them and then play a short piece in all seriousness. After the “audition” you are ready for your prize. Instead, he excuses himself and comes back downstairs with Matilda, his stocky spinster of a daughter who for the next two hours sits dangerously close to you as he tries to not-so-subtly pawn her on you. When you clearly start getting annoyed at his game and refuse to have any more of his cheap red wine, he begrudgingly guides you (and Matilda) to his cavernous music library. There, he lights two candles and climbs on a ladder to turn a rusty lever up on the wall. Then, with a smirk, he flies open a dusty cabinet and takes out the part! Before your eyes, lies the “Magnificat a Otto Voci”, the very score you’ve been searching for the last month. But alas, he lets you “see” the part but nothing else. Touching is out of the question. Photocopying is according to him, an insult to the composer (though he died over 400 years ago) and not even photographing the part is acceptable. At this point you are not only kinda drunk, but also furious, exhausted and sick of Matilda’s strangely dizzying perfume. You’re gonna get absolutely nowhere with this guy and his ugly daughter, so instead of pleading any longer, you just grab the part from his skeletal hands and run for the door and out of the house as fast as you can, ala Bastian in Never Ending Story. For a split second, you see the light of day, the sun and the sky. And then, nothing at all…just darkness…..footsteps……..and your phone vibrating in your pocket. It’s only hours later, as Matilda strips you down under the bright fluorescent light of their concrete basement –your hands bound with rope, your face still bloody from the fall and a terrible headache blurring your vision – that she finds your phone and in a heavy accent reads the message that could have saved you:

“hey, found this cool wiki for music scores & thought of u, it lets u downld everythg for free…. –

“Heeeeeeelp! Somebody help me!” you yell at the top of your lungs, but to no avail. Ikaro is standing at the door now, a dark twinkle in his eye and swinging an ax with a vicious smile. On his other hand, all wrinkled and soiled, his precious “L’Arte Musicale in Italia” 1898 edition of Gastoldi’s “Magnificat”. # # # For more information about the International Music Score Library Project (IMSLP), the Petrucci Music Library and Edward Guo, please visit their website or read this New York Times article on them. The Villalobos Brothers know firsthand how difficult it can be to get printed music not only in Mexico but in many other parts of the world. We see this collaborative effort as an important step forward in leveraging the power of the internet to grant equal access all over the world to those music students with limited resources.


February 25th, 2011

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