• Published 25th Nov 2020
  • 644 Views, 24 Comments

The Cab Ride and a Night Train - Penguifyer

After her composition is bashed by the critics, Octavia travels to New York City in 1978 to seek inspiration. Her answer comes not from the concert halls or academics, but rather from a cab ride.

  • ...

A Different Path

Vinyl sat at a table at home sipping a cup of coffee. The eerie silence in the morning felt empty. Sure, she enjoyed blasting her sound system late at night with no Octavia to bother. But she did miss waking up to the singing cello melodies in the morning.

“Wait,” Vinyl said to herself. “Isn’t she supposed to come back today?”

Octavia burst through the door, carrying a box on her back. “I’m home!”

Surprised, Vinyl jumped out of her chair and fell to the floor.

Octavia trotted up to the table and plopped the box on it as Vinyl rubbed her eyes. “Give me a heads up next time, will ya?”

“Sorry, it’s just…” Octavia opened the box, revealing an assortment of LPs, cassettes, and even some sheet music. “You have a record player, right?”

“How else do I blast music at two in the morning?” Vinyl sassed, noticing Octavia’s disheveled mane.

“Sorry, mind’s a bit out of it right now.”

“You complain about it almost every day!”

“I didn’t have a record player at my hotel, okay? I haven’t listened to any of these yet.” Octavia pulled out a few of the records as Vinyl stood back up and levitated them to herself.

She rotated the albums upright and squinted at the titles. “In C? Drumming? Music in Similar Motion? What kind of music is this?”

“I don’t exactly know either, which is why I’m dying to… where is it?” She fished around the box before pulling out a black album. “Got it!” She looked around the room confused. “Where is the player again?”

Vinyl leaned over Octavia. “Come on, you live here!”

“I don’t go to the other side of the room that often.”

Vinyl sighed. “Behind the synthesizer.”

“Thanks!” Octavia trotted out of the room. “I might mess with that too.”

“With what?” Vinyl asked as she trotted after Octavia.

Octavia loaded a disc onto the player. “The synthesizer.”

“Who are you!?” Vinyl yelled, tugging at her mane.

Octavia flinched from Vinyl’s yell. Taking a second, she let out a deep breath. “I should explain myself.”

“You better.”

Octavia sat down. “When I was in New York, the academics and professors kept trying to sell me this atonal and unpleasant music, like my piece but orders of magnitude harder to listen to. Then I met a composer driving a taxi. That alone confounded me, but after talking to him and thinking about it for a few days, I think I get it now. There can be just as much beauty in the simple as there can be in the complex.” She pulled an LP out and fiddled with it. “But more importantly, innovation can require not just failure, but sacrifice. But if you love what you’re doing, that sacrifice won’t be that bad.”

Vinyl sat down and tilted her head. “Okay, I kinda get it. But what do you mean by all of this?”

“Well, I think I’m gonna change some things. I don’t think I’ll stop performing, but I want to break up with the critics and schools. If I have to pick up a side job, so be it. I’ll deal. Moreover, I don’t know exactly what music I’m gonna write and I don’t know who my audience will be. But if I love what I make, I hope someone else will too.”

Vinyl paused. “And here I thought you’d come back with a few new ideas.”

Octavia looked away. “Tell me about it.”

Vinyl laughed and trotted to the record player. “Hey, you’ve piqued my interest in this music now. I mean, what kind of music does a taxi driver write?”

Octavia squeezed the album sleeve as Vinyl levitated a record out of it. “Just be aware that it’s a bit repetitive.”

“Come on, you call my music repetitive. I’ll be the judge of that.”

“As in, it’s an opera that’s over four hours long and each scene lasts twenty minutes.”

“Sounds like a normal concert of mine, minus the ‘opera’ part.”

“Just understand it’s different.”

Vinyl ignored her and plopped the record into the player. An arpeggio blasted out of the speakers, gradually changing texture and meter.

“This is an opera?” Vinyl asked.

“It is, believe it or not.”

“I mean, is that a synth I’m hearing?”

“I think.”

“Huh, sounds like something I’d make.”

“I kno… really?”

Vinyl held her hoof to Octavia’s mouth and let the music continue. After a minute and a chord change, she smiled at Octavia.

“You know what? I kinda like it.”

Author's Note:

Story notes found here.

Comments ( 18 )

What kind of music does a taxi driver write? Funny you should ask, young one...

Hmm, any opinions on any of these?

When Octavia thought about it, all classical music sounded the same.

Relevant part starts about 2 minutes in.

Hm. An interesting story, I think, though I wasn't quite sure what to make of it at first.
(Though the music right at the end did distract me and result in me spending a bit of time doing some more tinkering with an AC traction system concept I've been thinking about off and on for a bit. :D)

When Octavia thought about it, all classical music sounded the same.



(Though the music right at the end did distract me and result in me spending a bit of time doing some more tinkering with an AC traction system concept I've been thinking about off and on for a bit. :D)

I love that. That was one of my goals with this story. That’s also one of the better ways to get into minimalist music. A four-hour opera sounds unbearable to take in until you do other work while listening to it. Then you check the clock and realize two hours just went by.

I feel like that’s gonna get meme’d before I know it.

Oh, interesting; thanks. :)
Though I assume you don't mean work on AC traction system concepts specifically. :D
But I'm glad you enjoyed hearing about what I did there. :)

You know, as I’ve broadened my music horizons over the year, I’ve come to realize what I think Octavia is just touching her hoof into--rules are made to be broken; you can do whatever you want. Mix gospel and metal, why not? Have a band singing in Gaulish and using traditional (ish) instruments. Only the imagination is the limit, and honestly the fusion between Octavia’s skillset and Vinyl’s could be amazing.

Especially if it goes both ways.


Can’t go wrong with Herb Alpert . . . man, I haven’t listened to him in a long time.

Yup, really enjoyed this story!

Even helped me a little with composing my own music, so thanks :yay:

I enjoyed the story good story😁👍🏼💯


These are honestly my favorite kinds of comments. It’s one thing to get a lot of likes and comments saying my story is good. However, it’s much more rewarding to write something I’m passionate about with an important theme and see others be inspired by it. That alone is worth thousands of likes.

So I don’t know why I didn’t think of this earlier . . . I mean, I had heard of them before, but just got reminded today ‘cause of YouTube’s algorithm:

Also tangentially related:

I like that. I think I’ve seen it before too.

It’s interesting you’d link that vid. Believe it or not, the minimalists have been described as “having one foot in classical music and another in rock and roll.” For instance, David Bowie and Philip Glass both knew each other and influenced each other’s works. At first glance, minimalism and rock don’t sound related until you dive deeper into both of their rebellious roots.

I might do a bonus chapter about what Octavia and Vinyl did with what they learned. Then again, I was supposed to do a bonus chapter for The Pony of the Mackinac Bridge which hasn’t happened yet. Eh, we’ll see.

Also tangentially related:

I love that. I do find it funny that Octavia is almost always portrayed as formal and high class. I thought this story could provide an alternate interpretation more in line with the pressure to innovate artists can feel. In my experience, there are three different classical music stereotypes: the high-class people obsessed with the past, the academic atonalists, and the crazy artists. That last group has some gems in it.

Nice story, and some great recommendations too. (Currently enjoying Music for 18 Musicians and Sevish, in particular.)

Great story, and it's nice being exposed to different music. I should note, though, that the "Four Seasons" video you linked to has been taken down by the copyright hounds.

Fixed. Kind of funny they took down that one of all of them.

Hope you liked some of the music.

Login or register to comment