The Music of Chance

A couple nights ago, my friend Mike and I were walking through the San Francisco Civic Center MUNI Station, when a familiar noise started up – the torturous scratching of THE WORST VIOLIN PLAYER IN THE WORLD. One of the more…um, ambitious, homeless and / or crazy citizens of San Francisco. I’ve often heard The Worst Violin Player in the World while fighting my way through a crowded MUNI station during rush hour, but never have I heard him at 11:30 pm playing in an empty station.

Perhaps it’s not right, but I’ve always just sort of assumed he was some bum who found a busted violin (surely a functioning violin could never make such wretched noises!) and saw a great opportunity to spice up his pan-handling. Most likely, anticipating a relative financial windfall. Well, because the station was completely empty, I was able to clearly see him playing for the first time and noticed something that had previously eluded me – some sort of sheet music. Curious, I took a closer look, and had my mind completely blown.

The Worst Violin Player in the World may very well be entirely insane, BUT he’s also an undeniable avant-garde genius. Check this: he was using BUILDING PLANS for sheet music. So basically, The Worst Violin Player in the World looks at a floor plan and somehow his brain translates that into what can only be described as the music you hear before you die. Forget John Cage. If that’s not genius, I don’t know what is.

It made me feel like a damn idiot. Do different styles of architecture sound different? How important are line weights? What does a door schedule sound like? Is it possible that the aggressive, staccato notes I heard were auditory emodiments of a demolition plan? This seems like it could potentially have drastic implications for both fields…and I’m a little afraid.