Orchestrating Crime and Punishment

It’s 5:30a.m. and he’s sound asleep. It’s his first week in what will likely be his home for the rest of his life. At precisely half past the hour ________ begins playing through a pair of speakers that have no volume or setting controls. His eyes snap open and another day begins.

The “he” in this scenario is none other than Berne Madoff and day long playlist is determined by anyone willing to buy air time…

madoffWhile watching news coverage of Madoff being sent to jail yesterday, my wife came up with what could potentially become one of the most lucrative new revenue streams for orchestras in the new economy. Imagine a partnership between Madoff victims and orchestras where 16 hours of Bernie’s days are filled with music selected by anyone willing to purchase time in five minute blocks and you tune in via pay per view webcam. Proceeds would be divided between two funds: one to restore victim’s capital investments and one to benefit performing arts organizations.

Certainly, being forced to listen to classical music isn’t a punishment in and of itself. Instead, the concept is summed up by the actions of a judge in Urbana, Ohio who rendered a $150 fine to a man for playing rap music too loudly on his car stereo but offered to reduce that to $35 if he spent 20 hours listening to classical music. The judge said her idea was to force the convicted man to listen to something he might not prefer, just as other people had no choice but to listen to his loud rap music.

Likewise, since Madoff forced others to ultimately lose control over their quality of life and defraud charitable organizations, it makes sense for him to experience likewise and have that translate into revenue for nonprofit groups. Ultimately, it is fair and fitting that he loses control over much of how his remaining waking hours are spent.

Since it certainly can’t be considered cruel or unusual punishment and will contribute to making the victims whole while simultaneously benefiting society by introducing a new revenue stream to the arts, it is a sure fire win-win.

Here’s Where You Get To Have All The Fun

Send in a comment and share:

  1. what you want Bernie to hear.
  2. when you want him to hear it.
  3. why you selected that music and time.

Keep it simple and remember, this has nothing to do with the subjective “good music/bad music” arguments and everything to do with appropriateness. As one of my conservatory theory professors was fond of saying “The final movement of Beethoven’s Fifth played at full volume by your apartment neighbor at 3:00a.m. isn’t music, it’s noise.”

As for me, I would like to purchase ten minutes of time for back to back installments of the first movement from Mozart’s Eine Kleine Nachtmusik performed in Bluegrass style on fiddle, banjo, guitar, mandolin, bass, and pedal steel guitar (with all the repeats). Just like this version:

[audio: 01_01_allegro_from_eline_kleine_nachtmusik.mp3]

Sweet dreams, Bernie…

Mozart For CreativityGerald Jay Markoe
“Allegro From Eline Kleine Nachtmusik” (mp3)
from “Mozart For Creativity”
More On This Album

Music Provided by IODA Promonet

About Drew McManus

"I hear that every time you show up to work with an orchestra, people get fired." Those were the first words out of an executive's mouth after her board chair introduced us. That executive is now a dear colleague and friend but the day that consulting contract began with her orchestra, she was convinced I was a hatchet-man brought in by the board to clean house.

I understand where the trepidation comes from as a great deal of my consulting and technology provider work for arts organizations involves due diligence, separating fact from fiction, interpreting spin, as well as performance review and oversight. So yes, sometimes that work results in one or two individuals "aggressively embracing career change" but far more often than not, it reinforces and clarifies exactly what works and why.

In short, it doesn't matter if you know where all the bodies are buried if you can't keep your own clients out of the ground, and I'm fortunate enough to say that for more than 15 years, I've done exactly that for groups of all budget size from Qatar to Kathmandu.

For fun, I write a daily blog about the orchestra business, provide a platform for arts insiders to speak their mind, keep track of what people in this business get paid, help write a satirical cartoon about orchestra life, hack the arts, and love a good coffee drink.

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10 thoughts on “Orchestrating Crime and Punishment”

  1. I’d like to buy about 3 hours in the middle of the day. I’d fill the first 90 minutes with Pachelbel’s Canon in D, on a loop. Then for 4 minutes and 33 seconds I’d like to play John Cage’s: 4’33”. After that, I’d continue with the Pachelbel loop until my time ran out!

  2. This is a hard one- really, really, hard.

    1)Mondestrunken and Galgenlied poems of Pierrot Lunaire by Schoenberg.

    2)Around 4 AM

    3)The first time I heard this piece in Music History, it gave me chills because of the atonality and sprechstimme- so if it was played around 4- the time when if you are woken, it is extremely hard to go back to sleep- at about mid-level on the speakers, because it doesn’t need to be loud to be effective. Also, the second movement is the Gallows Song, which seems appropriate for what America wants to do with the fool.

  3. While what you’re proposing is certainly different in significant ways, I’m troubled by the similarity between this idea and the ways in which music has been used to torture prisoners in the “War on Terrorism”: http://www.alternet.org/rights/113479/a_history_of_music_torture_in_the_war_on_terror_/?comments=view&cID=1084926&pID=1084880

    And while 16 hours instead of 24 and normal volume instead of extreme volume probably makes the difference between torture and mere punishment, I would definitely be receptive to an argument that it qualifies as “cruel and unusual.”

    Plus, I’m uncomfortable with the idea of prison as retribution as it is, and offering individual citizens an opportunity to take personal revenge upon a prisoner seems like a grotesque perversion of an already very perverse “justice” system.

  4. Gosh what a partypooper. We doubtless all know the difference between a bit of malicious humor and a grotesque perversion.

    I was enjoying the variety of “punishments” and would like to add anything by Bob Dylan – sung by Bob Dylan – to the list. Also, polkas and yodeling, in the 7 or 8 PM time slots. Those are my particular phobias, any one of which can drive me from the premises in moments.

  5. Everyone is allowed their own opinion. In as much as some enjoy others are allowed otherwise and I for one am happy to provide an outlet for discussion.

    I don’t think Galen was snarking at anyone in particular and used his comment to share some very sincere and heartfelt positions. At the same time, that shouldn’t’ preclude anyone from continuing to have some fun in the original spirit of the post.

  6. Sir Peter Maxwell Davies’ “Eight Songs for a Mad King”, played at any moment where Mr. Made-off is about to fall asleep. Not only a brilliant piece of music/theatre, but certainly one of the most grating (and perhaps torturously annoying) collections of sound ever assembled.

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