Symphony 451

by Rob Dinsmoor

Johann was horrified that, after more than 10M “hits,” his symphony had been purged from the National Playlist. What had he done wrong? At 23 notes, his Symphony 451 had fallen well within the 50-note maxiumum specified by the Playlist. (The Playlist Conductor believed that most listeners couldn’t follow music with more notes than this.)

Johann kept sending e-mails to the Conductor until he finally got a response. “Your content violates the ‘nonmanipulations’ rule,” the Conductor replied. “Manipulative” content referred to music that thrust the listener into intense emotional states, such as sadness, triumph, fear, or ecstasy.

“I composed this symphony with absolutely no thought or emotion in my head,” Johann replied. “I painstakingly assembled my symphony is such a way that the notes were completely random, unrelated, and unremarkable.”

“Nontheless, one of our Beta Listeners, who had suffered emotional trauma in her youth, claims that a sequence of six notes in your symphony caused her to feel intense sadness,” the Conductor responded. “We cannot risk another such incident from your symphony.”

Meanwhile, unbeknownst to Johann or the Conductor, the Beta Listener had recorded the symphony and now played the 23 notes over and over, crying until no more tears were left.