The history of the Kaddiska Mu-Stellar Club

Last Thursday was the 17th anniversary of Oxford’s legendary Catweazle Club. This is a semi-prose poem I wrote specially for the occasion.

There is an open mic.
There is an open mic in Oxford.
The planet Oxford that orbits the Sopdet binary star system in the western arm of the Eesar galaxy.
Today, the Kaddiska Mu-Stellar Club is 17,000 years old and is thought by many to be the longest-running open mic in the local cluster.
Or at least this side of the Chiltern nebula.

People attend from all over the universe.
I use the term ‘people’ in the loosest sense.

You can see sentient radio waves singing songs,
Artistic amphibians spawning armies of tap-dancing tadpoles,
Dinosaurs drumming on dirigible drongo drums,
Android amoebas slowly digesting canvasses – can we call it art? They call it lunch.
Memes memorising other people’s dreams,
Giant gnostic jelly fish performing puppetry with sea cucumbers,
Little green men miming rude yet unfathomable operations on little green women and vice versa,
Intelligent SETIs dressed up as yetis playing the cantina theme song from Star Wars.
And if you’re lucky you might catch the loquacious leptons and their particle circus.

If you look closely enough.

But by universal consent (and I don’t mean that metaphorically) the most notable occasion in Kaddiska Mu-Stellar Club’s 17 millennia was when a group of regular performers – four humanoids all called Matt– decided to construct the largest instrument ever made.

It all began with a chance conversation that took place, as all serious business did, in an after-hours bar known as the Half Moon.
It was so-called because it was actually half of a small moon.
It was originally a whole moon but had been partially eaten by a swarm of self-replicating, planet-feeding robots unleashed during a protracted polyhedral war whose precise origins are obscure but was thought to have started when a popular poet knocked over someone’s guitar.

Partly as a consequence of its drastically eroded rock structure, but mainly due to the unsavoury characters that inhabited it, the Half Moon was a bit of a dump but it was always busy because it was able to exploit a loophole in galactic licensing laws.

The half-digested moon travelled in tight a lissajous orbit, snaking around an elongated multiple figure-of-eight path that was fixed in relation to the primary star of the Sopdet System.
This meant it oscillated continually between 10:47 and 11:21 pm and, therefore, closing time was never reached and the bar could be relied upon to serve intoxicating, psychoactive and psycho-reactive liquors when everywhere else was shut.

And it was while enjoying such intoxicating, psychoactive and psycho-reactive liquors that the four Matts from the Kaddiska Mu-Stellar Club started playing a game where each player in turn had to think of a progressively larger musical instrument.
It wasn’t a terribly well thought-out game and our participants quickly got bored with it but it did lead to a discussion about building the largest ever instrument in the observable universe.

It would be more enormous than the Aeolian pipes floating in gas giant 1337B that, when positioned in the rarefied upper atmosphere, produce notes so low it’s said you can walk on them.
More massive than the Maser Harp of Jarre-Jarre 3.
More gigantic than the Gigameter Guitar with its strings of metalised hydrogen.
More immense even than the interplanetary collision percussion of the Cage constellation.

The newly conceived Pulsar Piano would use a complex lever system to convert the movement of small ivory-plated keys into parsec-sized trajectories of magneto-quantumly coupled dwarf stars.
The moving stars would interfere with the gravitational waves emitted by a number of pulsars selected from the galactic neighbourhood, altering their frequencies to generate over two and a half thousand different notes.
The modified gravitational waves, rich in harmonics produced by interference from all the star systems and nebulae along their path, would be collected by a neutron star amplifier, concentrated into seismic vibrations on a planet located at the focal distance and captured by a biomionic valve microphone.

On top of all this it would be MIDI compatible.

472 years later the final adjustments were being made for the Pulsar Piano’s debut performance at the Kaddiska Mu-Stellar club that night.
A whole demographic of specially evolved technobots was putting the finishing touches to the instrument, overseen by the four Matts, who each had their own area of responsibility.
By 6.00pm the build, which had been planned according to the latest precognizant project management techniques, was 6 minutes, 22 seconds behind schedule but within tolerance.

At this point one of the clockbots who monitored the schedules asked who had gone to wait in the queue to sign up for the Kaddiska Mu-Stellar club.
Immediately a transcluster lawyer was contacted to look into the precognizant project management contracts.
Then, after a brief discussion, Matt no.3 who was in charge of tuning and who was at that moment in the process of activating the low E flat, was despatched to planet Oxford to get on the list.

Flouting scores of galactic traffic regulations as he passed through the Sopdet system on his plasma stream bicycle, Matt arrived breathlessly at the Kaddiska Mu-Stellar club just after 7pm.

But in the last half millennium or so the sign-up queue, which had been gathering 5 minutes earlier each week, now started to form 85 days before each show.
With fluctuating demand a performer might manage to get in a day early, or might sneakily jump from queue 43 to queue 34, for instance, but realistically there was no way on Oxford that the Pulsar Piano would debut that night.

It was another wonderful cornucopia of variety at the Kaddiska Mu-Stellar club.
The audience was mesmerised by magmatic marbling displays,
Enthralled by ethereal erotica
And they laughed at the loquacious leptons in all the right places,
And nobody particularly noticed the hulking holographic presence of the Pulsar Piano’s user interface in the corner, next to the Kaddiska Mu-Stellar banner.

It is sometimes said that it is better never to realise your dream lest you be consumed by the aching emptiness of fulfilment.
In the case of the four ingenious Matts it’s hard to say but they were certainly never the same again.

The Pulsar Piano, however, with its quasi-equitempered tuning and missing low E flat would take up a central role in the development of the Kaddiska Mu-Stellar club, becoming the house instrument for a substantial musico-historical epoch.

But that is another story.

© Moogieman, 2011

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