The panic started small but scattered, as across the world bands and songwriters floundered in their hunt for new tunes.
“You can’t use that. That’s Love Me Do by the Beatles,” said an advertising executive in Manchester, when he heard the proposed new jingle for Asda.
“No. Eso es Beethoven,” said a drummer in a death metal band in Buenos Aires, when he heard the song the band was working on.
With each new pin prick of alarm, the truth shone through a little more clearly. Until finally there was no getting away from it: every combination of notes had been used, even the ugly ones. There were no more tunes possible.
Journalists leapt with enthusiasm onto one of the biggest feel-bad stories of the century. This was it, this was the moment when it could truly be said that the youth of today were fundamentally unoriginal, when the decline of society and the abandonment of all joy were a certainty.
Pseudo experts and professional doomsayers were linked up by satellite to talk about exactly what had happened and what it meant. From the dry to the melodramatic, every emotional response was covered.
“Well, it was inevitable, really. There are only so many notes and a finite combination of them.”
“We will be a music-less society, only time will tell just how this will affect us.”
“These are the end days, without music our souls will wither!”
As always the world carried on, people went to work, dogs were walked, coffee was drunk; but there was a sadness to it, a reverent quietness. The human race was in mourning. Nobody whistled or sang, afraid to be seen as insensitive. Work slowed, its dullness impossible to escape. Lovers looked at each other with shocked honesty, without the delusion of tune to hide the truth with romance. Radios played only white noise, the TV played credits in silence.
It lasted three days.
Then an impatient journalist started shouting across Twitter, he was a man who was practised pointing out the stupidity of the world
“Seriously? This matters? This doesn’t matter. Just recycle the old tunes. Play them fast, slower, sung by an elephant in a clown suit,” he tweeted.
“Nobody cares about music anymore, it’s all about the spectacle,” he continued.
The tweets quickly spread and became a hope, the hope became a belief and the belief became the truth.
And so the music played on, faster, slower, sung by elephants in clown suits. People tapped their feet and forgot there was ever such a thing as a new tune.