In college, circa the year 1985, I engineered a mixed tape. I made a mixed tape with my stereo/record player/cassette deck of all my personal favorite mellow, relaxing, inspiring, encouraging songs in my dorm room. Timing was of the essence. Clicking “play” and “stop” when the needle hit the right points on the album was tenuous work. I carefully wrote each song’s title with my black Bic pen on the cardboard lines of the in-folding, placed it in the plastic cartridge/holder, nestled the tape inside, clicked it shut satisfactorily, and thought carefully about what to call my gathering of musical muses.
I wish I could remember how I came across the word “quodlibet,” that year while living in Wiebking Hall in Room 315 on campus, overlooking the basketball court that lead to the cafeteria. Sometimes I used to read the dictionary just for fun, and still do, when time allows and I remember to glean pleasure from discovering new words in my heavy, giant-sized Encarta tome. I just remember thinking what a beautiful word it was… and how perfectly descriptive I thought it was for my project:
“Music. a humorous composition consisting of two or more independent and harmonically complementary melodies, usually quotations of well-known tunes, played or sung together, usually to different texts, in a polyphonic arrangement. “
I used poetic license to call my music anthology a quodlibet, because they were not humorous compositions, nor were the songs to be played as counterpoints to each other at the same time. No matter. I loved the word and that was that. I wrote it in my best calligraphic handwriting, albeit without real skills or a real nib yet, but I dreamt.
My Quodlibet Tape is somewhere in our garage now, in a plastic shoe box with other outdated cassette tapes, lost in the shuffle of college kids’ belongings, bicycles, camping gear, seasonal decorations, bags of clothing to go to Goodwill, tools, and the myriad and sundry items that clutter up a household and become relegated to that space. I would have to spend a good chunk of time retrieving it today and so I shan’t go to the trouble, but for some reason it is on my mind. It is sweet to think back on times spent in reflection and artistry, expressed through choosing and assembling music in a quintessential time of growth. My Quodlibet Tape mirrored my meditations of philosophy, morals, dreams, faith, love, and fear… questioning, tearful sessions of laying-on-the-bed-with-headphones-and-being-melancholy-and-young-and-taking-life-oh-so-seriously. 1985 was a good year.
A. Locke 2013