Ladies and gentlemen of the human resources department, as you sit here before me considering who will provide the entertainment at this year’s company picnic, I’m sure one question over all others is buzzing through your minds: What could The Quarter-Tones possibly offer us that other a cappella groups cannot? The answer is elegantly simple: We have a piano. They don’t.
Your employees aren’t buffoons. They know what a piano looks like, and it certainly isn’t twenty grown men in pink sports coats bopping up and down. It doesn’t wear a propeller hat or boast painfully ironic T-shirts. It is a machine of varnished wood and tempered high-carbon steel.
To be clear we’re on the same page, I’d like Pete, our roadie, to wheel in the Casio AD-220. Pete, put down the blue Slurpee for a moment and get it. Yes. There.
That is a piano.
Other groups might try to tell you that they “make the piano with their voices” or that their instruments are “entirely vocal.” These people are trying to swindle you. They’ll distract you with swag and audience engagement, and by the time you see through their charade they’ll be gone, leaving you moneyless and alone in a park somewhere, the mocking image of a piano softly vanishing from your eyes.
Don’t doubt that Harmony In Motion will do this to you. They’re all enormous dicks.
Taking these factors into consideration, I’d like to answer the one reservation you likely still have—Namely, who is the pianist capable of backing up The Quarter-Tones? Well, I’d like to direct your attention to the individual at the rear of the room balancing a blue Slurpee on his stomach. Seem familiar? That’s right, our roadie Pete also happens to be a magnificent musician.
Pete, why don’t you get up here and give the good people a taste of Bruce Hornsby’s “The Way It Is”? Put the drink down for a moment and—Well, now you’ve spilled the Slurpee all over yourself.
Look, I’m not trying to argue we strike the best appearance. We don’t have the toned physique or the choreographed dance moves of Harmony In Motion. We don’t even really have costumes, as our current apparel of sweatpants and stained undershirts will attest to. One thing we do have, though? Passion.
Also, a fucking piano.
By now you might be wondering, when are we going to get the chance to meet the rest of the fabled Quarter-Tones? Well, it just so happens that between Pete, me and the piano, you’re looking at them! Sure, we don’t have the sheer numbers of other groups, but when you have a piano, you don’t really need a squad of members trying to emulate all its timbre and range. You just kind of sit down and push a bunch of keys at once.
Plus, think of the money you’ll save on food and lodging! Pete barely needs much more than a couple bucks for gas and snacks—and you don’t have to pay the piano at all. Did I mention that? This isn’t one of those old-timey player pianos that you put a sawbuck in to hear “Buffalo Girl.” Nope, all you’ll be hearing is Bruce Hornsby and—For God’s sake Pete, the Slurpee cup is empty. You spilled it all. That’s why you’re covered in blue sludge. Please stop trying to suck it off your gut with a straw.
Now, I’ll be the first to admit there are some who doubt our methods. They say we’re “confused about the way genres works.” That a two-person duo isn’t even “a cappella.” But these people are cowards, individuals frightened of pushing forward a musical form too long strangled by so-called “definitions” and “categories.”
Ask yourself: Did Bruce Hornsby compose his inspiring yet contemplative hits using a roomful of singers in wacky outfits? No. He didn’t. He just sat down and used a piano like any intelligent human being would—which is exactly what Pete and I will do when we cover his songs.
So The Quarter-Tones could sit around all day pretending pianos don’t exist like those assholes from Harmony In Motion. We could bring our clothes to a dry cleaner and I could take vocal lessons. But in the end, is it really necessary? For you see esteemed members of the human resources department, I’ve learned something today. An a cappella group’s greatness isn’t in the size of its members, or the number of novelty ties it has. No, it’s in something bigger. Namely, whether or not they have a piano. Which we assuredly do.
I believe I’ve made our case. Pete, clean yourself up and let’s roll out.