Catherine Christer Hennix’s The Electric Harpsichord

WALKING DOWN THE STREET RECENTLY, I saw an adult hand a thin book to a child she was pushing in a stroller. The adult looked away, and the child immediately began to gnaw a corner of the book. It is the metaphor I want for the public reception of composer and artist Catherine Christer Hennix’s The Electric Harpsichord.

It’s likely that I first heard The Electric Harpsichord in the summer of 1976. My first reaction was that it did not sound like it came from planet Earth. (I was not the only person who had this impression. One of my acquaintances at the time called some of Hennix’s writings “esthetics of the nonhuman.”) It was too intelligent and too unsentimental, and at the same time mesmerizing. I have had several life-changing moments: This was one of them. The audio band was saturated so that pinpoint attacks merged into an organlike roar. The attacks twinkled, one could say. The pitches

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