Wednesday, December 30, 2009


I love cats but even I find the majority of cute cat videos too much. An exception is the one recently sent to me by a friend. You can see it yourself at:
This one features Nora, a feline prodigy, featured in her own "catcerto" with a chamber orchestra. Rather, it's apparently by the Lithuanian conductor and composer of the orchestra but Nora has a star part in it.
I think it's astounding. What might have sounded random or aleatoric from Nora's performance has been scrupulously composed-around so that it makes musical sense. And actually it does. The composer picks up motifs from the notes that Nora's pewter-gray paws choose from the keyboard, and this cat's got an ear for harmony. It's not diatonic harmony but it's certainly got nothing with dodecaphony, or 12-tone music, as one commentator originally but wrongly thought.
It has more to do with Alban Berg, though it's a little sweet-sounding for Berg, or maybe Gy├Ârgi Ligeti. I love it when Nora suddenly reaches into the black notes or accidentals for just the right effect, then sweetly looks up at the camera, probably waiting for praise, or a treat. And then she accomplishes something like a note-cluster by suddenly rolling her head on the keys.
What's even more remarkable for me is that Nora's the image of my dearest cat ever, Schuster. He was musical too. I like to think Nora was channeling Schuster.

1 comment:

  1. Love your writing -'fine' or otherwise.

    A pleasure to have you available to us again.