T. C. Vilabier’s 26th String-Specific Sonata For An Instrument Yet To Be Invented, MW 1211 – The Hydrogen Sonata – started with a single sustained note, right at the top of the range of the instrument which had had to be invented to play it properly, the bodily acoustic Antagonistic Undecagonstring for four hands. That single note was then joined by a faint, uncertain chord of slowly shifting harmonics, which was another way of saying that it started to sound out of tune after it got more than one note in. Fans and detractors alike agreed that this was a remarkable achievement, and also that the work as a whole was something of an acquired taste.

Iain M. Banks

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