Rusty Banks.  Composer.

Did you learn anything in music school?  Or does the phrase “circle of fifths” mean nothing to you?

Circle of fifths?  I remember that.  Never cared for how it sounded, but it looked good on a T-shirt.  Kinda like Glam Rock Super-group KISS.

What’s your favorite “bad” piece of music?  And briefly justify your crappy taste.

Bad Music?  Oooh.  I LOVE bad music.  There are just too many.  I cite three from different parts of my life.

As a pre-school age boy my favorite song was Sam the Sham and the Pharaoh’s “Whooly Bully” played at too high of a speed.  Nine years later, Alvin and the Chipmunks released a cover of it.  It just didn’t work.  It has to be on vinyl, it has to be faster, and God help me, it has to be a sped up Sam Samudio yelling “Watchit now, watchit now, here it comes!”

Violent Femmes’ “Gone Daddy Gone.”  I really can’t explain this one.  I think it’s the xylophone solo…

Country super group Alabama’s “Dixieland Delight.”  I love to play a bossa nova version of this when no one’s around.  I get choked up on the lyric “chubby little groundhog.”

Your five-composition-long playlist for Schoenberg would contain:

I have five pieces I wish Schoenberg could have heard:

George CrumbAncient Voices of Children

Louis AndriessenDe Stijl

Nine Inch NailsThe Fragile (album)

Monroe Golden:  Alabama Places

Roger MillerDo Wacka Do

I think Schoenberg had some great ideas, but if he had heard works like these it could have opened him up quite a bit.  Crumb’s emphasis on beauty, Andriessen’s insistence on groove, Trent Reznor’s emphasis on sonic richness, Golden’s acoustically-ground sound explorations.  I think there are many lessons for all of us in Roger Miller’s music.

Congress calls on you to draw up a bailout plan for contemporary music!  What do you do?

Bailout plan?  Easy.  Forgive all student loan debt immediately, and have free universal healthcare.  We composers are all sitting on great ideas that our pizza delivery jobs don’t leave time for.  Imagine unleashing all that power!

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