Composer John Stump (1944 - 2006) created brilliant pieces of unplayable music marked by hilarious annotations - including “Like a dirigible!” “Gong duet.” “Rigatoni” and “Apply brown liquid now.”
His best known piece, “Faerie’s Aire and Death Waltz (from ‘A Tribute to Zdenko G. Fibich’)” was composed in 1980. Here’s an attempted performance presented by the Colorado State Music Teachers’ Association.
“Remove cattle now.” “Light explosives now… and now.” “Play ball!”
Stump also wrote “String Quartet No. 556(b) for Strings In A Minor (Motoring Accident)” (1997):
“Shock therapy may be necessary to finish.” “If you can’t play this, why don’t you call your Mommy.”
Here’s one more Stump masterpiece - “Prelude and the Last Hope in C and C# Minor” (1971). This composition is a bit more subtle and predates his absurdist works, although it’s obviously impossible by the end.
Inspired by Stump, Japanese composer Yamasaki Atusi created “Atushi Ojisama and Ijigen Waltz (from “A Tribute to Yamasaki Atushi”)” in 2007 - going so far as to include a picture of himself within the music.
“Avoid lumping” and “If you can’t play this, why don’t you call Atushi” were included as tributes to Stump a year after his passing.
Here’s Andrew Fielding’s 1992 “Lament of the Introspective Turnbuckle” created as the supposed “Theme of the 1979 Miss Albequerque, New Mexico Swimsuit and Short Fiction Writing Competition”.
“Quasi intellectuo.” “Unannounced layoff.” “You mf!!” “Take coda except Tue. 7-9 A:W Street Cleaning.” “Also on laser disc.”
Before there was Stump, the Italian composer Sylvano Bussotti (1931-) created pieces such as “Pieces de chair II for piano, baryton viola, female voice and instruments” (1960) without the assistance of a musical typewriter.
In 1969, Canadian composer R. Murray Schafer (1933-) also got into creating satirical sheet music by hand with pieces such as “Divan I Shams I Tabriz” (1969)
Carrying the tradition over to recent times, in 2007, SNL and Portlandia’s Fred Armisen released “Jens Hanneman: Complicated Drumming Technique”.
The instructional video showcases Armisen taking himself very seriously as a Scandinavian master of ridiculous time signatures such as 29/2. The DVD, of course, came with 8 pages of impossible sheet music:
Finally, here’s a song called “Bad Dudes”. This has been in my files since around 2008, and I have no idea of its origins. It’s definitely possible to play this one, but I figured I should throw it in either way for all the bad dudes out there.
“Bad song. I’m a bad dude, yes sir, I am! Why not let the world crumble to pieces. I live in a bad place. I’m a bad dude!”
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