Have you heard of this symphony before? This masterpiece, this triumph of sound ingenuity? You bet you have! But you may not have known it’s name. It is a largely unappreciated piece, but inspired Hemmingway, Scott F. Fitzgerald, and J.K. Rowling to write their influential masterpieces. It is a work so wonderful, so unique yet heart-warmingly familiar, it gives comfort and enlightenment wherever it is played. It is the ‘Sounds Of Coffee.’
This La Symphonie Du Cafe has many instruments and a few stages. At the back are the beat keepers, the drums, and snares. This is the steam wand, grinder, thuds of the knocker tube, a milk jug gently kissing the edge of the cup. Then the ambience – muttering voices, clacking shoes, scraping chairs on the floor, clinking crockery, generic world music from a tinny stereo. Then the melody – mostly performed in spoken word, and often using musical conventions such as a leitmotif (a musical recurring theme), like, “Hi there, what can I get you today?” and polychoral antiphony (the term for two choirs interacting with each other, or ‘call and response’) such as “A flat white with one please.”
While it’s technical elements are nothing short of exquisite, requiring such finesse of skills and composition, what makes this symphony so intriguing is its avant-gardism. It breaks the fourth wall between composer, artist, and audience and it enables the identity and role of the participant to be quite fluid. If you are listening to the Symphonie, you are simultaneously in the audience, passively enjoying the sounds waft over you, and you are a composer, deciding what tune to create today, going with the traditional polychoral antiphony flat white or go wild with a syncopathic filter coffee, and you are part of the orchestra! Your particular way of clinking crockery, the shoes you wear that clack, shuffle or squeak at just the right tempo. Your slurps provide the ambience in someone else’s experience of audienceship!
And then, a crescendo of senses as your perceived world focuses on a moment of exceptional flavour, transporting you to the hills of East Africa and jungles of Costa Rica, the roar of lions and snore of the sloth lingering in your ears. Then you are back, heart full, head full, cup not as full of wonder. That is the magic of La Symphonie Du Cafe. It is an opus for the New Post Modernists. It is Meta. It is quantum physics. It’s coffee.