Donald Moffitt - Genesis 01

Donald Moffitt - Genesis 01 by Genesis Quest Read Free Book Online

Book: Donald Moffitt - Genesis 01 by Genesis Quest Read Free Book Online
Authors: Genesis Quest
know whether to envy the music students or feel sorry for them. On the one hand, they had chosen a field of endeavor that the Nar could not dominate. On the other hand, they had forever ghettoized themselves within a synthetic human culture and withdrawn from participation in society as a whole.
    “It sounds very interesting,” he said with careful tact.
    “Interesting?” she teased him. “You’re hopeless! It’s a breakthrough! We’ve got the notation for hundreds and hundreds of musical compositions, of course, and we’ve always been able to use a synthesizer to approximate the sounds of the most common musical instruments from the few recorded samples we’ve analyzed—the two Brandenburg Concertos, for instance, and the Beethoven symphony. We don’t know what a piano looked like, but we know that violins and cellos were hollow resonating bodies made of wood. The physics department worked out the acoustics and made some prototypes on computerized lathes. It’s going to be a whole new era in music. Direct production of sound! No more keyboards between you and the notes. I’m thinking of changing my field of study.”
    “What’s the point?” he said. “Wooden instruments already exist.” Arthe had one that he had carved himself out of vacuum-poplar, and he used it to accompany himself in songfests.
    “Those simple strumming things!” she exclaimed impatiently. “You don’t understand. We’ve worked out the physics of the bowed string.”
    “What’s that?”
    “You scrape an abrasive element across a taut string and get a continuous vibration.”
    “Sounds unpleasant. Like a fingernail on slate.”
    “It’s more expressive! Oh, you’re being impossible, Brambram. I’ve heard it at some of the rehearsals. Four of our best virtuosos have been practicing with the new instruments for months now! Just wait till you hear them!”
    Bram retreated hastily. The one thing he did not want to do was get Mim annoyed with him. He thought she was the most exquisite creature he had ever met. She was a year older than he was, and he had hardly been able to believe his good luck when she had shown an interest in him; not when she was surrounded by older fellows who had already chosen their careers and had important things to talk about. He was desperate to impress her. Sometimes, though he had no idea if their gene maps were compatible, he had fantasies that she would choose him to bond with her.
    “Oh, look!” she cried as they spilled through into the inner amphitheater with the mostly human tide. “Isn’t one of those Nar waving at you?”
    Bram looked across at the upper level of curving tiers and saw Tha-tha with a group of older Nar. One of his tentacles was raised in imitation of the human gesture. Bram waved back.
    “Who was that!” Mim said.
    “One of my touch brothers,” he said. He felt embarrassed, and he didn’t know why.
    “I seem to see less and less of my own touch brothers these days,” Mim said. “We try to keep up but—you know!” She shrugged. “They don’t really understand what I’m doing ! Oh, they know that music is important to us humans, and they have an abstract grasp of what it’s all about, and they say all the right things. I know they have a sense of pitch—at least they can sing a simple tune on key, sort of. But I always have this feeling that they’re, I don’t know, indulging me. You know, like when you’re a little kid and you take off your clothes and you stretch out on a body reader and you let it tickle you all over. Did you ever do that? And you tell your tutor that you’re reading and you make up a story, and he makes believe you really are reading. That’s what it’s like.”
    Bram nodded. “I know what you mean.”
    Except for Tha-tha, he was no longer close to any of his touch brothers. As their command of adult speech had become surer, they had grown beyond him. They still made an effort to see him occasionally, but more and more they presented

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