The Irrational Sonata

The sonata’s official length is 3:14. Three minutes and fourteen seconds. Upon first hearing, that is the time it will cease playing. On the second listening, few notice much difference. Here or there people will notice a note out of place, an extra beat where there was none before. It is only upon the fourth or fifth listen that the listener will notice any change. There will be entire bars of music unheard of before, usually laughed off as “I wasn’t paying attention.”

The song repeats. It will get gradually longer, around twenty reiterations it will include an entire orchestral section, around the forties there will be vocal parts. The player (digital or otherwise) does not waver from its insistence that the song is only three minutes and fourteen seconds. The counter, when looked at, will seemingly be unwinding at a normal speed, but every glance picks up where the other left off. A listener may look away for four “minutes” with only ten real-time seconds passing in between. The song must stop when the counter reaches zero, however, so theoretically watching the song counter would make the sonata conform to its intended length. The strange nature of the sonata seems prepared to defend against this, however, as listeners will often insist on hearing it “just one more time” in order to make sure that they haven’t made a mistake in hearing. They do not appear aware of previous requests, the lacuna specific to the piece makes it feel as if each time is only the second or third.

The first alarming change comes on the sixty-fourth repeat, exactly. Where the music was in simple four/four timing, now it may change to a highly irregular time signature, sixteen/two or twenty-one/nine. The listener may begin complaining of strange visuals, though it does not seem unusual to them that the piece should have visual accompaniment.

Around the eighty-first repetition, listeners will begin to complain about “the show” being too incomprehensible/explicit, etc. When asked to describe the scene, the listener will give a series of logarithms rather than actual description. Into the lower hundreds, subjects begin to lose voluntary motor control.

No repeats past 240 have been allowed.

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