Music With Rocks In

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Before the universe began, there was a sound. It went: "One, two, ONE, two, three, four..." The Listening Monks discovered this, and it explains a lot. The cataclysmic power chord that followed was the creation of time and space and matter and it does Not Fade Away.

A long time later (on the Discworld's timeline) something flashed across the Disc's surface looking for the magic that could give it life and expression. It found a wall just behind Unseen University, and then there had always been a second-hand music shop there. The new shop (which had always been there) contained an irascible proprietress, a lot of junk, and a strange instrument in the shape of a crude guitar. The strange guitar contained The Music. All it wanted was a way out.

Away back in the dripping evergreen woods of Llamedos, in a rustic shack of mud and wood, Imp y Celyn spent the gloomy winter writing a song. It made him the new star in a country that listened religiously and took music seriously, but defined it too narrowly for him, and he set off to find his muse[1]. After a while, he came to a crossroads. Finding no one there, he took the road more travelled and came to Ankh-Morpork.

There, he found a horn player named Glod Glodsson and a percussionist called Lias Bluestone, also out of work and money, and then they found the shop that had always been there since yesterday. So the strange guitar found Imp, and the phenomenon began. The guitar wasn't something you played; it played the holder, it played the other musicians, it played the room and the audience. It didn't just play music, it played want and need and feel and go crazy right now before you lose your mind. When Imp held it it played him as no one ever played before.

Glod was a Dwarf and an experienced professional musician with an idea of what sold in the city. Lias, a Troll, brought the throbbing rhythms of Ggroohauga and the acoustic rocks that would give the new sound its name. Under the influence of the stuff in the guitar, the three made Music With Rocks In, and it was irresistible. It went from The Mended Drum to the Cavern Club to a regional tour to a huge free concert in Hide Park in days. Naturally, CMOT Dibbler attached himself to such a major new opportunity, and money poured in. (The "free" concert would generate a fortune in food, t-shirt, and recording sales.) They became so big they needed a roadie just to protect the money. The phenomenon took the great city and the neighboring plain to a pitch of excitement even higher (and even briefer) than the moving picture craze. It lasted about a week.

The three musicians disappeared in a spectacular coach crash and the Music went on, looking for a safer world. Music With Rocks In really died on the day the Music died, and a curious amnesia set in about it so that it is nearly forgotten in Ankh-Morpork. Elsewhere, another time, it may have recovered.

Oddly, while the Music is dead and forgotten on Discworld, its name pops up in the Truth. Otto Chriek, reacting with delight to the fact that Uberwald-style atmospheric weather (specifically castle thunder, in the best horror movie tradition) is happening in Ankh-Morpork, pumps his fist in the air and exclaims. "Muzic Viz Rocks In!"

[1]A demigoddess named Cantaloupe, apparently.


Other musical ephemera pertaining directly to Buddy or the Bande:-

  • Shave and a haircut - two pence... more than just a bit of musical nonsense or a jingle that evolved to help musicians tune their instruments. This originated in the 1950's as a verbal description of the musical style of one blues/rock and roll pioneer called Bo Diddley, a musical giant whose influence can be heard in the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Yardbirds, and down the ages to the present day. And yes, one musician Diddley's style influenced was of course Buddy Holly.

The scene where Cliff destroys Buddy's harp by sitting on it (and later pays for it to be expensively rebuilt in the Street of Cunning Artificers) evokes legendary rock bad boys The Who, who famously destroyed their instruments at the climax of each gig. What is not as widely known is that the Who's canny manager employed a roadie purely to gather up the bits afterwards, so that they could then be returned to a repair shop and rebuilt, purely to be "destroyed" again - otherwise the expense of replacement instruments for every gig would have been phenomenal. Turnover was so fast that effectively, the same three sets of instruments were being repeatedly "wrecked" and rebuilt on a three-day cycle... generally speaking, Townshend and Entwhistle (born showmen both) would be satisfied if the neck of the guitar broke cleanly away from the body in a visually satisfying manner, necessitating a fairly simple and cheap repair job afterwards. And, On The Day The Music Died, does not Death, Townshend-like, perform a similar conclusive destruction job on The Guitar? (echoing also Jimi Hendrix, who famously set fire to his at the end of a gig)

"in a rustic shack of mud and wood" (above) - Imp y Celyn's home evokes Chuck Berry's classic song Johnny B. Goode, who the song tells us lived in a suspiciously similarly humble abode, but who could play a guitar just like ringing a bell.... In fact, Imp's song is called Sioni Bod Da, which is reasonable if slightly clumsy Welsh for Johnny, be good!

There is lots and lots more on the resonances between Roundworld and Discworld Music with Rocks In, now on the Soul Music annotations page. Could any further discovered references from the book please be entered there?