Soul music, p.18
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       Soul Music, p.18
 

         Part #16 of Discworld series by Terry Pratchett
Page 18

 

  Its bound to work, said Glod. Its like . . . a coach. The more bits you take off, the faster it goes. Come on. They set out. Buddy tried to look as inconspicuous as a human can look if he is accompanying a dwarf with a big horn, an ape, and a troll carrying a piano in a bag. Id like a coach, said Cliff, as they headed for the Drum. Big black coach with all dat liver on it.

  Liver? said Buddy. He was beginning to get accustomed to the name. Shields and dat.

  Oh. Livery.

  And dat.

  Whatd you get if you had a pile of gold, Glod? said Buddy. In its bag the guitar twanged

  gently to the sound of his voice. Glod hesitated. He wanted to say that for a dwarf the whole point of having a pile of gold was, well, to have a pile of gold. It didnt have to do anything other than be just as oraceous as gold could be. Dunno, he said. Never thought Id have a pile of gold. What about you?

  I swore Id be the most famous musician in the world.

  Days dangerous, dat kinda swear, said Cliff. Cook.

  Isnt it what every artist wants? said Buddy. In my experience, said Glod, what every true artist wants, really wants, is to be paid.

  And famous, said Buddy. Famous I dont know about, said Glod. Its hard to be famous and alive. I just want to play music every day and hear someone say, “Thanks, that was great, here is some money, same time tomorrow OK?”

  Is that all?

  Its a lot. Id like people to say, “We need a good horn man, get Glod Glodsson!”

  Sounds a bit dull, said Buddy. I like dull. It lasts. They reached the side door of the Drum and entered a gloomy room that smelled of rats and second-hand beer. There was a distant murmur of voices from the bar. Sounds like theres a lot of people in, said Glod. Hibiscus bustled up. You boys ready, then? he said. Hold on a minute, said Cliff. We aint discussed our pay.

  I said six dollars, said Hibiscus. What dyou expect? You arent Guild, and the Guild rate is eight dollars.

  We wouldnt ask you for eight dollars, said Glod. Right!

  Well take sixteen.

  Sixteen? You cant do that! Thats almost twice Guild rate!

  But theres a lot of people out there, said Glod. I bet youre renting a lot of beer. We dont mind going home.

  Lets talk about this, said Hibiscus. He put his arm around Glods head and led him to a corner of the room. Buddy watched the Librarian examine the piano. Hed never seen a musician begin by trying to eat his instrument. Then the ape lifted the lid and regarded the keyboard. He tried a few notes, apparently for taste. Glod returned, rubbing his hands. Thats sorted him out, he said. Hah!

  How much? said Cliff. Six dollars! said Glod. There was some silence. Sorry, said Buddy. We were waiting for the “-teen”.

  I had to be firm, said Glod. He got down to two dollars at one point. Some religions say that the universe was started with a word, a song, a dance, a piece of music. The Listening Monks of the Ramtops have trained their hearing until they can tell the value of a playing card by listening to it, and have made it their task to listen intently to the subtle sounds of the universe to piece together, from the fossil echoes, the very first sounds. There was certainly, they say, a very strange noise at the beginning of everything. But the keenest ears (the ones who win most at poker), who listen to the frozen echoes in

  ammonites and amber, swear they can detect some tiny sounds before that. It sounded, they say, like someone counting: One, Two, Three, Four. The very best one, who listened to basalt, said he thought he could make out, very faintly, some numbers that came even earlier. When they asked him what it was, he said: It sounds like One, Two. No-one ever asked what, if there was a sound that called the universe into being, happened to it afterwards. Its mythology. Youre not supposed to ask that kind of question. On the other hand, Ridcully believed that everything had come into being by chance or, in the particular case of the Dean, out of spite. Senior wizards didnt usually drink in the Mended Drum except when they were off duty. They were aware that they were here tonight in some sort of ill-defined official capacity, and were seated rather primly in front of their drinks. There was a ring of empty seats around them, but it was not very big because the Drum was unusually crowded. Lot of ambience in here, said Ridcully, looking around. Ah, I see they do Real Ale again. Ill have a pint of Turbots Really Odd, please. The wizards watched him as he drained the mug. Ankh-Morpork beer has a flavour all its own; its something to do with the water. Some people say its like consommé, but they are wrong. Consommé is cooler. Ridcully smacked his lips happily. Ah, we certainly know what goes into good beer in AnkhMorpork, he said. The wizards nodded. They certainly did. Thats why they were drinking gin and tonic. Ridcully looked around. Normally at this time of night there was a fight going on somewhere, or at least a mild stabbing. But there was just a buzz of conversation and everyone was watching the small stage at the far end of the room, where nothing was happening in large amounts. There was theoretically a curtain across it; it was only an old sheet, and there was a succession of thuds and thumps from behind it. The wizards were quite close to the stage. Wizards tend to get good seats. Ridcully thought he could make out some whispering, and see shadows moving behind the sheet. He said, what do we call ourselves?

  Cliff, Buddy, Glod and the Librarian. I thought he knew that.

  No, weve got to have one name for all of us.

  Dey rationed, den?

  Something like The Merry Troubadours, maybe.

  Oook!

  Glod and the Glodettes?

  Oh, yes? How about Cliff and the Cliffettes?

  Gook ook Oook-ook?

  No. We need a different type of name. Like the music.

  How about Gold? Good dwarf name.

  No. Something different from that.

  Silver, then.

  Ook!

  I dont think we should name ourselves after any kind of heavy metal, Glod.

  Whats so special? Were a band of people who play music.

  Names are important.

  The guitar is special. How about The Band With Buddys Guitar In It?

  Oook.

  Something shorter.

  Er . . .

  The universe held its breath. The Band With Rocks In?

  I like it. Short and slightly dirty, just like me.

  Oook.

  We ought to think up a name for the music, too.

  Its bound to occur to us sooner or later. . Ridcully looked around the bar. On the opposite side of the room was Cut-Me-Own-Throat Dibbler, Ankh-Morporks most spectacularly unsuccessful businessman. He was trying to sell someone a felonious hot dog, a sign that some recent sure-fire business venture had collapsed. Dibbler sold his hot sausages only when all else failed. [17] He gave Ridcully a wave at no charge. The next table was occupied by Satchelmouth Lemon, one of the Musicians Guilds recruiting officers, with a couple of associates whose apparent knowledge of music extended only to the amount of percussion available on the human skull. His determined expression suggested that he was not there for his health, although the fact that the Guild officers had a mean look about them rather hinted he was there for other peoples health, mostly in order to take it away. Ridcully brightened up. The evening might just possibly be more interesting than he had expected. There was another table near the stage. He nearly didnt notice it, and then his gaze swivelled back to it of its own accord. There was a young woman sitting there, all by herself. Of course, it wasnt unusual to see young women in the Drum. Even unaccompanied young women. They were generally there in order to become accompanied. The odd thing was that, although people were jammed along the benches, she had space all around her. She was quite attractive in a skinny way, Ridcully thought. What was the tomboy word? Gammon, or something. She was wearing a black lace dress of the sort worn by healthy young women who want to look consumptive, and had a raven sitting on her shoulder. She turned her head, saw Ridcully looking at her, and vanished. More or less. He was a wizard, after all. He felt his eyes watering as
she flickered in and out of vision. Ah. Well, hed heard the Tooth Fairy girls were in the city these days. Itd be one of the night people. They probably had a day off, just like everyone else. A movement on the table made him look down. The Death of Rats scrittered past, carrying a bowl of peanuts. He turned back to the wizards. The Dean was still wearing his pointy hat. There was also something slightly shiny about his face. You look hot, Dean, said Ridcully. Oh, Im lovely and cool, Archchancellor, I assure you, said the Dean. Something runny oozed past his nose. The Lecturer in Recent Runes sniffed suspiciously. Is someone cooking bacon? he said. Take it off, Dean, said Ridcully. Youll feel a lot better.

  Smells more like Mrs Palms House of Negotiable Affection to me, said the Senior Wrangler. They looked at him in surprise. I just happened to walk past once, he said quickly. Runes, please take the Deans hat off for him, will you? said Ridcully.

  I assure you- The hat came off. Something long and greasy and very nearly the same pointy shape flopped forward. Dean, said Ridcully eventually, what have you done to your hair? It looks like a spike at the front and a ducks arse, excuse my Klatchian, at the back. And its all shiny.

  Lard. Thatd be the bacon smell, said the Lecturer. Thats true, said Ridcully, but what about the floral smell?

  mumblemumblemumblelavendermumble, said the Dean sullenly. Pardon, Dean?

  I said its because I added lavender oil, said the Dean loudly. And some of us happen to think its a nifty hairstyle, thank you so very much. Your trouble, Archchancellor, is that you dont understand people of our age!

  What . . . you mean seven months older than me? said Ridcully. This time the Dean hesitated. What did I just say? he said. Have you been taking dried frog pills, old chap? said Ridcully. Of course not, theyre for the mentally unstable! said the Dean. Ah. Theres the trouble, then. The curtain went up or, rather, was jerkily pulled aside. The Band With Rocks In blinked in the torchlight. No-one clapped. On the other hand, no-one threw anything, either. By Drum standards, this was a hearty welcome. Ridcully saw a tall, curly-headed young man clutching what looked like an undernourished guitar or possibly a banjo that had been used in a fight. Beside him was a dwarf, holding a battle horn. At the rear was a troll, hammer in each paw, seated behind a pile of rocks. And to one side was the Librarian, standing in front of . . . Ridcully leaned forward . . . what appeared to be the skeleton of a piano, balanced on some beer-kegs. The boy looked paralysed by the attention. He said: Hello . . . er . . . Ankh-Morpork. And, this amount of conversation apparently having exhausted him, he started to play. It was a simple little rhythm, one that you might easily have ignored if youd met it in the street. It was followed by a sequence of crashing chords and then, Ridcully realized, it hadnt been followed by the chords, because the rhythm was there all the time. Which was impossible. No guitar could be played like that. The dwarf blew a sequence of notes on the horn. The troll picked up the beat. The Librarian brought both hands down upon the piano keyboard, apparently at random. Ridcully had never heard such a din. And then . . . and then . . . it wasnt a din any more. It was like that nonsense about white light that the young wizards in the High Energy Magic Building went on about. They said that all the colours together made up white, which was bloody nonsense as far as Ridcully was concerned, because everyone knew that if you mixed up all the colours you could get your hands on, you got a sort of greeny-brown mess which certainly wasnt any kind of white. But now he had a vague idea what they meant. All this noise, this mess of music, suddenly came together and there was a new music inside it. The Deans quiff was quivering. The whole crowd was moving. Ridcully realized his foot was tapping. He stamped on it with his other foot. Then he watched the troll carry the beat and hammer the rocks until the walls shook. The Librarians fingers swooped along the keyboard. Then his toes did the same. And all the time

 
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