• Member Since 24th Dec, 2011
  • offline last seen 5 hours ago


The waters from this fountain of knowledge are 100-proof. | Iced Ko-Fi, scalding glances.


The world ends, right? Of course it did. But who in the great struggle to survive the end of ponykind remembered to save the music?

A story build around a series of chord changes from the jazz standard "Blue and Sentimental"--in essence, an improvisation.

Loser of the More Most Dangerous Game contest. Now with Author's notes!

Chapters (1)
Comments ( 40 )

I don't think you've actually published this yet, have you?

Holy shit. I wish I could give constructive criticism, but I had far too much of an emotional reaction to this piece to do that. Simply outstanding.

This story. This unique, barely three thousand word story. I can't honestly tell you how I feel after reading this. For whatever reason, it struck a chord with me. So, to make up for my severe lack of ability to express myself, I'd like to take your time to tell you a story.

Once upon a time, when I was about eight years old, I was walking around my subdivision. I had no real destination, or even remember what I was doing. I was just walking, looking around at the houses, and staying off to the opposite side of the road to avoid the stench of the garbage cans. But then something caught my eye. A shiny black disk was sticking out of one of these trash cans. What it was that drew me towards it, I'll never know, but I did. I pulled it out of the can, trying to figure out just what in the world this thing was. It had words and names on it too, like a CD. And most of the surface was covered in small grooves that I'd run my fingernails in. It felt funny.

So, I carried it home with me. Occasionally tossing it like a Frisbee into random yards, then retrieving it, and continuing home. Once I'd gotten there, my grandmother whom was visiting us from South Carolina was first to see me down the driveway.

"What do you have there, Alex?" She asked me.

"I don't know, some sort of Frisbee disk." I had guessed.

"Oh no no no, young man. That there is a record album."

I had no idea what that meant, so she explained it to me.

"You see, that there disk plays music."

What? How could that be? Music came from the radio, or the CD disks, or those annoying cassette tapes. How could something this big fit into one of those? I told her as such, and she just laughed. Several minutes later, we were traveling in her van to some place called a "storage vault". I later learned that upon my grandfather's death when I was only two, she boxed everything up they owned, put it into a storage locker, and she moved to South Carolina. The exact reason why, well she never did tell me.

Anyway, we get there, to this storage locker, and she opens it. It was the first time in six years, since my grandfather whom I'd never known, that this locker had been opened. She searched for an hour in the mess of boxes and antique furniture, until finally she found what she was looking for. Too heavy for one of us, I helped her carry it into her van. She closed the vault, we got in the van, and went back home.

I helped her carry that box into my bedroom, stuffed to the brim of old, abused toys and whatever else I would find that I found curious. She opened it, and removed three things. The first two, matching brown boxes with a cloth front, she placed on the floor near a plug outlet. Then she pulled out a bigger contraption, which looking at the front of it was some sort of radio. But it was HUGE! Why would a radio be so big compared to mine or my sisters? She'd hooked it up, plugging the two boxes into it, and turned it on.

Sure enough, music came on the radio. Then she turned a knob on it, lifted off the dark plastic cover, and there sat something I'd never seen before. She called it a turntable, and this was how that disk I found was played. I handed it to her, she turned on the player; I watched as it began spinning around in circles, trying to read the words on the disk but failing. Then, she took a long arm and placed it on the disk.

It made all these awful cracking and popping noises, but then, I heard music playing. This was the first song I'd ever heard on a record before. At the time, I wasn't too sure what kind of music it even was. No one singing words, just instruments I had no idea the names of. We listened to the entire first side, and one song had asked to hear again. That would forever become my favorite song. Of course, at the time, I didn't realize that I would like all these kinds of songs from the era. Just that I liked this song.

So as the years rolled by, I would aquire more records at garage sales. Random ones usually, that I didn't know who they were but I figured I'd have nothing to lose reguardless. I got some by Chicago, Jim Crose, Neil Diamond, etc. Mostly sixties and seventies stuff. Then came the tenth grade, and in our social studies class, we were tasked with taking a song and breaking down it's lyrics, explaining what the meaning was behind the song.

Everyone in the class pretty much knew what they wanted to do. Whatever the craze was in the early 2000's. But I wanted to do something different, be different. I had aquired a portable record player in my travels, so naturally I knew I had to be the one odd ball to bring it in. The only question was, just what song? I listend through my records like a mad man, only having the weekend to complete the task. I had, oh, maybe sixty records by this time. About eighty percent of them I didn't much care for, but didn't have the will to actually get rid of them. But then, I found that old record again. My first record, and it hit me. I knew what song I was going to do.

I listened to it for hours. I was still young, new to the actual thought that songs had a meaning other than the words sung. Eventually, yes, I realized it, I did my report, even taking in the portable record player and playing it for the class, in all it's scratched and popping glory. That was the moment when I knew, I finally knew what genera of music I enjoyed. Or to be more accurate, era of music. I began doing my research. Jazz, Big Band, Swing. I had to know more. I had to know the names so that I could look for these specifics.

The next time I went to a thrift store, I was ready. Of the hundreds they had, I found a dozen or so that were, to my knowledge, what I was looking for. So I bought them, took them home, and began listening to them. I had some Patti Page. She was alright. I got a Julie London album (which I still listen to on those rough days). But then, I found it. The moment the needle started putting out those song notes I knew I'd found what I was looking for.

Hence came Benny Goodman, my favorite musician, and he gave me what I now call my undying love for Big Band and Swing. I would listen to that double album set for hours, every day. I didn't care if I heard those songs a hundred times, I could listen to them a hundred times more. I took what I knew of Benny, and found other artists and albums. Glenn Miller. Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey. The Andrew Sisters. The list kept on going, and I'd find more and more of these records. I was set, I knew what I wanted, what I enjoyed, and how I wanted to enjoy them. Although, an event a few years later would change that.

I would say I was still a novice when it came to the knowledge of the music world, and quite frankly I still am. It had never dawned on me that like the CD's and cassettes and eight tracks, that something could have come before these vinyl albums. I would soon learn, when on a trip to the thrift store, I met this man. He was buying a ton of records, ones that looked like they only had one song on each side. It was odd to me, for they were larger than 45's. I asked him, and he enlightened me on them. How they were before vinyls, only playing a single song on each side, some even had just one song period!

And then I learned just when these records were popular.

In the era of music I listened to.

I was shocked. I was listening to music on records, sure, but not on their true, original records. I'd always wondered what the 78 speed dial was for, other than having fun with sped up vinyls. It was meant for these. So then I asked the man if he liked the music too, hoping to keep our talk going.

He said no. No, he didn't. I didn't understand, why would you buy these if you didn't like them?

"Because," he said, "me and my buddies at the gun range use them for target practice. These ones actually shatter and break when you shoot them, which makes it fun."

I was horrified. I couldn't believe it. These people were shooting these records, some sixty, seventy, hell eighty years old! I was conflicted, because I could not deny I enjoyed shooting as well. But records? I'd never even thought of it. Before I realized I'd been lost in thought, he was gone, up at the counter and making his purchase.

Frantically, I searched the record boxes, in hopes I'd find something. I looked for a half hour, my father growing very impatient with me, but I persisted anyway. Finally, I was forced to give up. Up at the counter, my father bought a couple things he wanted, but I just kept on looking at those records.

"Young man?" The regester lady asked me. "Did you know that man who bought all those records? I saw you two talking."

It caught me off guard, but said no.

"Oh, well he left one of his records here."

That... was fortinute?

I asked her if I could buy it. She said sure, and two quarters out of my pocket I went home with my very first ceramic 78 RPM record. I got home, switched the speed to 78, and even flipped the needle over (I knew you had to use a different needle for 78's, just not why at the time) and I played the song. At the time, I had no idea the importance of this song. It's history, or who the voice was other than Vaughn Monroe. But the song was soothing, Big Band, and I loved it.

Since that day, I have made it a promise that I save all the 78 RPM records I can find. Thrift stores, garage sales. Wherever they come up, I grab them. I will admit, I hated the idea that I was hording them from others, but to this day I've never met anyone else even remotely interested in them unless they wanted to shoot them or generally destroy them, to which I've had some choice words with. Some respect it, and even handed me the records to buy and enjoy. Others.... not so nice, but I won't go there.

The point is, I've taken it as a personal goal in life to save these records. Even the classical ones. These records were phased out in the mid fifties by vinyl, so by this point, they are very scarce and hard to come by. Some days I hit gold, grabbing twenty or more. Most days, I walk out with maybe two, if not any at all. My record collection now is quite large, with roughly 1,200 vinyl albums, 500 45's, and well over 1,000 ceramic 78's. I'd like to catalog them one day. Better sort them (although I'm trying as I go). But for right now, and I'm sure for years to come, all I really want to do is just kick back, put my feet up, sip on a cold beer, and listen to these lost treasures of our past.

And one day, I hope that I'll be able to pass them down to someone else who would appreciate them for what they are. A son, daughter, grandchild, maybe a young lad I meet with no relation that has that same curiosity or gleam in his or her eyes like I did oh so many years ago. I can't know, and honestly I don't want to. I'm content with just listening to them, still on my grandmother's record player. Enjoying them.

I apologize for this huge amount of text. It's just... this fic brought out emotions in me I thought I'd lost long ago. It's hard to find people who appreciate music for what it is, what it was. I'm all for the new digital media craze, it makes listening to these songs easier and more convenient for many. I even have several of my records on my MP3 player for in the car. But there is nothing that can replace the authenticity of watching that record spin, needle bounce with the record, and those ever annoying (but not unwanted) crackles and pops.

So thank you. And sorry I couldn't be more critique-y on the fic, but well, it sure did a number on me. Toodles.

Yes. Thanks for a tale of quiet heroism in the face of screaming despair.

Hot damn son, this was something else.

Hey, I wrote a review for this story. In case you are interested, it can be found here.

Overall, I loved it. It is unique, and strange, and everything I hoped for it to be.

Preserving the good things through the apocalypse, being it an earth-shattering catastrophe or a smaller tragedy, is one of the hallmarks of being civilised. Great story!

I wrote a review of this story; it can be found here.

Soge sent me here. Hell of a... well, maybe not a story, but whatever it is, it's a hell of a one of those things.

It's strange that it isn't about music, either. There's nothing in here about why we should save the records, or about how music makes you feel. It's about musicians, pointing at the strange way they act and convincing us that all that passion must mean something.

I mean, it's more about "Music is the kind of thing that can make your life feel meaningful; musicians are an example of how to live life" than it is about music itself.

5541789 Wow. People buying old 78s to shoot them. I've bashed My Little Dashie, but you, sir, are a writer.

5575756 Thanks? But yeah, people do it.

5577841 damn, dude. Why you would write about anything else besides hoarding 78s, when you've got that much passion for em, I just don't know. I've (rightfully) shit on MLD in the past, but that comment has ten times the emotion and heart that story has.

Keep on keeping on.

5578649 Sorry for the late reply, been busy.

Anyway, well after a while it gets simply boring to just write about things that you already know about. I like to take different paths, find things that I have no idea how they work or what they mean, and do the research on them and write about it. And honestly, I'm not much of a writer, and I've no idea how to really convey a message about such records into a fiction. So, I write about technicolored ponies doing whatever they do.

I feel like I would have gotten more out of this story if I knew what the notes (I assume they were notes) spread throughout the story meant.

Author Interviewer

Damn. This works without the gimmicks, but I feel like I'm definitely missing something because I don't know musical notation. :B


Fret no more. Crash course music time!

Letters denote the roots of the chord. How you play certain chords rests in personal interpretation, phrasing, and voicing of the chords to establish a smooth bass line and a cool sound--but for simplicity's sake you can always play the triad of the chord, which is the root, third, and fifth of the chord. An E flat triad, for instance, consists of E flat, G, and B.

Now let's get to playing these chords. If you see Eb, then we're talking about an E flat chord. If the letter is uppercase, then you play a major triad; oppositely, lowercase letters denote minor triads, which are the same except the third is lowered by a half step. If you see a plus sign attached to the chord, like Eb+, then you have an augmented chord, which means you keep the root and third of the major chord but move the fifth of the triad up by a half step. If you see a circle attached to the chord, like ebo, then you have a diminished chord, which means you keep the root and third of the minor chord but move the fifth down a half step.

If you see Eb6, then you play an Eb triad and add the sixth of that chord's scale to the voicing. Eb G B becomes Eb G B C. The C adds some dissonance without making the chord sound overly crazy, kinda like sweet bbq sauce.

Now, seven chords! The hallmark of jazz! If you see Eb7, then we're talking about a B flat dominant seven chord. There are basically five types of seven chords that serve different functions--major seven [EbM7], which adds scale degree seven to the triad so instead of 1 3 5 you play 1 3 5 7 (an easy way to find this is to find the root an octave up from the triad and go down a half step); dominant seven [Eb7], the jazziest of all chords, which is the same as a major except you move the seventh down a half step so it's now a whole step away from the high root; minor seeven [ebm7], which lowers the third a half step just like a regular minor designation would while keeping the seventh the same as it is in a dominant chord (a whole step down from the high root); half diminished seven [eb7b5, though can also be notated with a circle with a slash through it], which is the same as the minor seven except you move the fifth down a half step; and fully diminished seven [ebo7, the "o" denoting a circle like in the half diminished seven except without a slash], which is the same as half diminished seven except in the seven, which gets lowered by another half step. Seven chords can also be notated by the individual spaces between each note of the chord, but I find that clunky and ineffective on inexperienced musicians and don't endorse it.

Usually these basics by themselves won't make super jazzy dissonant awesome sounding chords until you start experimenting with voicings (messing around with the note position so as to accentuate certain tones of the chord) and adding decoration tones (usually the ninth, eleventh, and thirteenth of a chord in addition to that juicy seventh), but for all its complexity you can pretty much play these chords perfectly (if not squarely) with four fingers. Musicarta.com has a great repository of online theory lessons if you'd like to learn more.

Would you believe me if I told you I'm a TA for the university youth jazz program?

Author Interviewer

Doesn't quite tell me what to make of the story, though. :B

5630389 Well, I can't tell you what to think--but I will tell you what to think about this story.

The music works on two levels. On the literal surface it's the music playing from the storyteller's gramophone. He gets more impassioned as the music heats up, then resolves his lesson in time with the song. The story mimics the song.

I can go deeper, though it involves a bit of music theory. I started out by analyzing the music (Ike Quebec's version was my go-to for this part) and typing the chords out into a blank document. Next I took my selected prompt from the More Most Dangerous Game and wrote out a couple of main themes I wanted to cover: the physical toll a nuclear war would have on art history, a nifty little dose of existential quandary as to the nature of improvisation and the universe, the physical vessels of music's salvation--specifically, the benny goodmane record--and on and on and on. Those would become the tonic chords, the Eb6's. The Bb's and all their various voicings, the V's, built tension in the form of rhymes and run-ons. II to V to I wraps up an idea and starts a new one. Crunchy diminished and augmented chords reflect the crunchier, stream-of-consciousnessier paragraphs.

Author Interviewer

Okay, so the chords do reflect something about what's going on in the story, then, making this the musical equivalent of Thou Goddess (which is high praise, for srs). I can dig it. :D And well, I dug it without that knowledge.

5630675 Awesome! Sorry this didn't make the finals. I thought it should have.


If you see Eb6, then you play what's called an inversion.

Please tell me you're shitting me. What's the 6 for, then? It should be Eb3.

5650149 That messed me up a ton last semester. It's notated with a six because the root note, the Eb in the example, is a sixth above the new bass (the third). The third of the chord is G, and the high Eb that replaced the low one from the non-inverted triad is a sixth above that G.

And don't even start with seven chords. Inverted sevens are notated with either 6/5, 4/3, and 4/2. Classic theory is nuts.

I am flattered by Thou Goddess being used as an object of comparison. :twilightblush:

And, comparisons or no, this story was a wonderful read. Glorious word porn, interspersed with meditations on a lot of thought-provoking topics, in as original a framework as you'll find. I'm also glad I read through the comments — both for 5630675 helping to peel back some of the depths I didn't catch (TBB, are you going to write any annotations/extended author's notes dissecting the story?), and for 5541789's really poignant nonfiction.

Thank you for this. :twilightsmile:

Author Interviewer

I read this comment after horizon's note about it and wow, man. I think you're doing a good thing, for what it's worth. :)

5671643 If you would like, I could write some more detailed author's notes for you/anyone else who cares. It'd have to wait til the weekend, as I have a few gigs coming up tomorrow and Friday, but I'd be more than happy to do it when time permits.

Why the gore tag? :derpyderp2:

If I'm on of the MMDG winners, I'm going to ask for the reading by Scribbler, and I'm going to ask her to read this story.

5679732 I'm flattered, dude. Really truly flattered. Thank you!

In regards to the gore tag--the moderator who approved this story asked me to add a teen rating to it since it covers some heavier topics. This isn't a story about sex, so I had to tag it gore.

The emotion behind the words are there, powerful throughout, but when the end hits, and the speaker with his motives are realized, that's truly when the empathy for it all comes alive for a reader such as me. The chords give great effect to his speech, especially at the elongated sequence of changes before it resolves back to the root, but as of the time I had read it and am currently writing, being late at night, I felt like the stallion who questioned the storyteller internally, not truly getting the importance quite clearly.

That was me being tired, but then the setting was painted, bringing the scene in as if zooming away from his passionate words slowly. The surreal dreaminess grounded, and I finally could reach for the atmosphere and drink in everything I missed. I stopped seeing the screen with words on it and saw the meaning that made me close my eyes and feel the feels I wish I had all the time. Those feels help me be more productive.

tanku senpai :)

A story can be "Teen" without either the Gore or Sex tag. According to the FAQ:

This is simple enough: use 'gore' when there is explicit description of violence/grotesque imagery in your story, and use 'sex' when there's... well... sex. On a Teen rated story, 'sex' can be used to indicate sexual humor or situations that are heated but don't have explicit sex.

Unless I'm seriously misremembering the story, I think Teen without Gore is probably the best place for this.

As for the author's notes, that would be cool. :) Link 'em here if you do.

5686450 Whaddaya know, it worked! I'll have the notes up within a few days.

5686450 5517854 5560016 5564829 5626478 5679732 For those of you interested, I've written up some slightly more detailed author's notes. If you're interested, the link is here.

Now, I wouldn't dare claim myself to have read more than most FimFic users.
My many standards, I just got here. Nevertheless, I've done my best to dabble in most genres, take a look at all the different sorts of stories and learn about the best of each. I like to think I've got a general idea of what to expect from most fics I come across, having usually read a similar one at some point or another.

Then I read something like this and I have to do a mental reset.

Simply, this is unlike anything I've read as of yet. Patterned, strong, tantalizing, intriguing and devastatingly unique. A brilliant piece of thought and something I, personally, would've happily given the highest mark to, had I been judging the fics of the contest. I just want to read it again and again, trying to decipher meanings or messages that may have eluded me. I want to find a piano and play these exact chords and listen to their melody.

Saying I unequivocally LOVED this wondrously wrought tale is paltry in comparison to the raw emotion that fueling those words.

You're singularly earned all my respect. And all I can show for it is this comment and my following. I know it's not enough while hoping otherwise.
Thank you for granting us such an unforgettable experience.

AIP§ :rainbowdetermined2:

Okay, now I have to read this again. Somehow, your story compliments this one in such a way that I'm never going to forget either ever. You had me spellbound. From the little I've gleaned of your character from that little block of text, I'm fairly sure I've a friend you'd bet very, very happy to meet. And I myself certainly wouldn't hesitate to shake your hand in respect were we to meet face-to-face.

Now, questions: you said you planned on perhaps handing down all these records to a relative or one who may have the same drive as you. What if none step up? Who will they go to? What will happen to the records?

The way I see it, this substantial (and quite impressive!) library of yours deserves to be remembered. Because, after all, we make records to keep the music on them from fading from memory. Thus, I suggest finding a way to record them digitally. The only way things are truly remembered is if they past the test of time. And with such music, a huge part of that test is making sure they exist in the modern world. Only in current human memory will they ever truly be kept alive. And since most of us are currently more familiar with digital music...

You could perhaps store them all online. "ROBCakeran53's Sonic Athenaeum" or something of the sort. Find a way to permanently get them on the one thing that's (as far as we can currently tell) only ever going to leave when humanity itself does: the Internet.

And if, by doing so, you get fans of the genres, THAT'S when you'll truly have saved those records. And it's probably also the most likely way through which you'll find someone passionate enough about said records and music to trust with preserving and keeping intact. :rainbowwild:

Sorry if this is lengthy. It's just... I can tell you're passionate about this music. It's clear as still water on a sunny day. And I want to help you keep that passion, share that passion, and give others the opportunity to discover a same passion. Make it relevant history. Because, to me, that's the only way this music you're passionate about will transcend your grave: that's the only way you can save the records.

AIP§ :rainbowdetermined2:

The chords were lost on me—I played trombone—but the story was incredibly powerful. Thank you for this.

5755759 I have been playing around with the idea of digitally recording these records. I have done so with many of my LP's, but I have yet to find a USB turntable that plays 78's. Granted, a lot of the songs I have already exist on youtube, but I do have many that do not. For instance I have a Danny Kaye album that is him singing with a quartet of younger sisters from Utah. None of those songs exist online from what I've gathered. So far, in my family, I'm pretty much the only one insane enough to put so much money into records, or music, so what will probably happen to them?

I have no clue. More than likely, when I die they'll be thrown out just like all the rest of my junk (and quite frankly, most of my junk CAME from the trash). But that's how the world goes. We advance, change, modernize. Most people have not a care for the devices of our past. Me? Hell, 90% of everything I own is pre-1970's. I like this old stuff, and not many other people do. That's just how things are.

I have been playing around with the idea of making a... vault, per se? Something online that I can eventually upload all my record albums and have them sharable for anyone who wants to download them. But that takes a lot of time, and anymore my time is limited.

Jazzy and eloquently freeform, though its musicality will be lost on 90% of the readers (like me). It never felt particularly pony, save for the occasional ponified name.

Point three clicks to the right so the colt who bullied his brother gets vaporized, two clicks down so the kind old man who serenades the pedestrians on that one street corner gets thrown onto his mattress and lives.

First part of the sentence you used a pony term (colt), second part you used a human term (man); felt jarring. Stallion, instead?

You might enjoy Godel, Escher, Bach. It too structures the stories it tells according to musical pieces and patterns.

My, this is quite the breath of fresh air.

There’s some meaning for you, disguised in pathetic horse shit: the one common trait of all music is that it ends. How’s that for the essence of music? Can’t live without it duct tape that holds the worlds of the world together bridges cultures with a soprano saxophone and a backbeat kick the feet out from under previous generation for the hell of it rock and roll gospel save your soul smooth jazz razamatazz zig zag culture bang big band on a microphone stand emo thriller plain vanilla gumbo bayou rehashed food-cliché creole be all end all end of the world orchestra bring down the house with taiko drums buddy rich tearing the skins apart elevator muzak bethoofen heart attack celestial belt keyboard thumping bible humping ninetysomething key piano kinda moody kinda bluesy dooky dukish sharing a stage and a staff with a bass riding a fretboard through the sine waves spades sonic texture keys on top of keys organ moan electric soul and proud rock it around rocket to the deepest parts of space that made room for a record of our sound

Sounds like Cuil.

Doesn't quite hold up as I was hoping.

Login or register to comment