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Best of Mr. P.C. 2016

Best of Mr. P.C. 2016
Mr. P.C. By

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Dear Mr. P.C.:

I'm just an audience member, but I have a question on behalf of a lot of us listeners:

If I make a request and the band plays it, do I have to listen to the whole thing? After they play the melody and then go into all the other stuff, sometimes I'd rather talk to my friends or just leave.

—Short Attention Span Suzie


Dear SASS:

Don't you think the guys in the band would rather talk to their friends or just leave too? Your request—which you never should have made—is a compact; it binds you and the band together in what becomes a set period of shared suffering.

Only the silence at the end can set you and the band free; that's why the last note of "Moondance" is always the sweetest.

Dear Mr. P.C.:

I took my son to see his teacher play sax at a local club. In the middle of a song, on stage, his teacher pulled out a cell phone and started texting someone. What kind of message does that send? —Can't Explain Lackluster Lesson


Dear CELL:

Probably "Hey I'm here on stage texting in the middle of a song, LOL."

Dear Mr. P.C.:

When we're playing a "background music" gig and the crowd is so loud there's no way they can hear us, and we can't even hear ourselves, does it matter what we play?

—Invisible Dan


Dear Dan:

Jazz is all about responding, in the moment, to the sounds around you, right? To do otherwise is dishonest and untrue to the art form. So of course it matters what you play; you need to play the music of not being able to hear yourself, music of frustration, rage and—above all—inaudibility.

Liberated from burdens like intonation, note selection, tone quality and time, you can focus instead on creating music that fully deserves not to be heard.

Dear Mr. P.C.:

I just played a gig with a bad banjo player. I spent a lot of time learning the music, and the gig went fine. My problem is that now I can't get that music out of my head. It's killing me! What am I supposed to do?

—Troubled in Tallahassee


Dear Troubled:

Unfortunately, offensive music in your head can only be displaced by music that's more offensive—that's how the banjo music got in there to begin with. So if you really want to get rid of it you could always listen to bagpipes or kazoos, but at some point you'll have to ask yourself: "Could I face death with this as my final soundtrack?"

For now, a better question is this: How and why, in the course of evolution, did humans develop a predilection toward filling their heads with painful music? The answer: If their heads were instead filled with beautiful sounds, humans would become complacent, content to sit idly and enjoy their internal concerti. Bad music motivates humans to take action, even if their march forward is just a desperate attempt to escape, their heads ringing with escalating sounds insufferable.

It's a bleak commentary on existence—mankind forever in motion, running from increasingly torturous music that finally proves inescapable. Unfortunately, that's the formula for progress; on the brighter side, death becomes something no longer to be feared.

Have a question for Mr. P.C.? Ask him.

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