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Für Elise

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At around six o’clock in the evening, the first tunes can be heard in the distance. The noise is still far away though, softened into melody by the distance, prowling nearby streets and alleys. Gradually I relax, gradually my subconscious settles into a state of false security; there will be no desecration today. But then, almost an hour later, the sound returns with a vengeance. It feels like the driver has turned off the engine and the loudspeakers, just coasting outside in silence, waiting for the best moment to inflict damage on even the less musically tuned ear. Then, he turns the corner of my street, turns on the engine and the loudspeakers, blasting the memory of Beethoven’s beautiful music into oblivion. To show reverence, people emerge from their homes, offering garbage of all kinds to the memory of old Ludwig van; the desecration has begun.

This is horrible, I like Beethoven and I like Für Elise, but who had the brilliant idea of using a stripped down midi-version for the garbage truck? Hearing it everyday guarantees that I will always associate that song with trash. Couldn’t they have chosen another tune (they used something else both in Xinzhu and Gaoxiong)? And if they had to use Für Elise, couldn’t they have used a version of it that didn’t merely take what is necessary to recognise the tune and then ignore everything pleasant about it? I have recorded this piece of “music”, but I hesitated a long time before attaching the recording to this post, because I do think it could be labelled aiding and abetting a crime against humanity. If you really want to, you can listen to it here (mp3, 607K). I, on the other hand, will never need the recording, because this tune will be inscribed in my mind forever, superimposed and probably overwriting the original piece. When I’m old, I’ll remember lots of things about Taiwan, most of them good, but the desecration of Beethoven is simply something for which I won’t forgive Taiwan.

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