Tag Archives: dissonance

Nicolas Slonimsky

I also tried to condition Electra to dissonant music. Henry Cowell was especially fond of one anecdote, which he recounted in his lectures and seminars. The story went something like this: When Electra would scream for a bottle, I would sit down at the piano and play a Chopin nocturne, completely ignoring her request. I would allow for a pause, and then play Schoenberg’s Opus 33a, which opens with a dodecaphonic succession of three highly dissonant chords. I would then rush in to give Electra her bottle. Her features would relax, her crying would cease, and she would suck contentedly the nutritious formula. This was to establish a conditional reflex in favor of dissonant music.

Nicolas Slonimsky, Perfect Pitch: An Autobiography, New York, 2002, p. 132