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The Seventh Note

or The Invention of Music

By Richard SeltzerPublished 9 months ago 4 min read
The Seventh Note
Photo by Jason Leung on Unsplash

"What's your name?"


"Can you say that again?"


"And again?"




"The note you sang is perfect."

"I didn't sing. That's my name. That's who I am."

"And again?"


"Sing it again please."


"So clear. So unambiguous. So consistent. You're perfect for the role."

"What role?"

"The seventh note."


"I've found six, but I need one more to do what I need to do. And you're ths one, by your very nature. You were made for me."

"Me made for you? What gall! Who do you think you are?"


"Like the god?"

"No. Not like the god. I am the god himself."

"You Apollo? Then I'm Aphrodite."

"No. Her voice is ordinary. Yours is divine."

"You're a madman."

He laughed. "No. I'm a mad god."

She turned and ran.

He caught up to her, grabbed her, and threw her over his shoulder."

"Rape!" she hollered.

"Do that again, please. Take a deep breath and project -- as loud as you can."

"Rape! Rape! Rape!"

"Marvelous. You have perfect pitch and the very note I need. And you have volume as well."

"Artemis!" she shouted. "I pray to you. Goddess of the moon and of chastity, save me from this madman. Do anything. Even turn me into a tree if you have to. Save me from this monster."

"Sis!" Apollo called. "Don't bother. I have this under control. She's the one I was looking for. With her I'll be able to make music."

"Music? What's music?"

"Notes that follow one another making patterns that are a joy to hear and that can convey feelings and ideas independent of language and time. You will make music possible, and for that you will be immortal."

"You don't want to rape me?"

"Say that again, please."


"So beautiful."

He went by foot all the way to Mount Parnassus, and followed the winding goat trail to the pasture at the top. He was in no hurry. He was savoring every moment.

"Where are they?"

"Who?" he asked as he set her down.

"The other performers. You said you had six of them."

"Over there by the spring."

"But there's no one there. Just statues."

"Sing!" commanded Apollo. And the statues sang, one note each, in sequence. Do, Mi, Fa, Sol, La, Ti.

"Separately, they're nothing," Apollo explained. "But together and with you, under my direction, you'll be amazed, and all of mankind will be amazed by the beauty of music."

"You expect me to become a thing like that? An object under your control with no will of my own?"

He smiled. "Of course. Performing together in harmony and synchrony, the seven of you will make beautiful music. You will become art. When old age shall this generation waste, thou shalt remain..."

"How hideous. You did this to them? And they let you do it?"

"Of course. I promised them fame, and they'll have it, once you join them and music becomes possible."

"You were drawn to them as you were to me. But you turned them into mechanical, lifeless, boring things. How could you possibly love them the way they are?"

"Of course, I can't love them now."

"But you could before?"

"Perhaps. They were tempting, each in her own way."

"And that's what you want to do to me?"

He hesitated.

"And if you changed your mind?" she asked.


"Can you reverse the spell?"

"No. It's permanent."

"You mean they're trapped? And I would be trapped, too? Forever?"

"They'll live forever and so will you."

"You call that life?"

"The beauty. You can't imagine the beauty you would be part of."

"As if beauty is more important than life? You're inhuman."

"Of course. I'm a god."

"I pity you."

She turned and started to walk away.

He waved his hands like a conductor and the statues sang, "Do, do, sol, sol, la la, sol, fa , fa, mi, mi." Then came an awkward pause, followed by "Do, sol, sol, fa, fa, mi mi," and another pause.

Ray halted and turned back.

Their eyes met.

Apollo ran to her. She was different from the others. He wanted her as she was — alive and contrary, uncontrollable, and unpredictable.

But she felt compelled by the inevitability of the tune and chimed in, "Ray!"

And the others continued "Sol, sol, fa, fa, mi, mi."

And she sang, "Ray."

And they sang, "Do, do, sol, sol, la, la sol. Fa, fa, mi, mi,"

"Ray, ray."


"No!" shouted Apollo. "I want you. You alone. You matter more to me than music, more than all the music than can ever be."

But he couldn't undo what had been done.

Three thousand years later, dressed in a tuxedo, Apollo sat at a grand piano in Carnegie Hall and, accompanied by an orchestra, played Mahler's Seventh Symphony. When he came to the Twinkle Twinkle theme by Mozart, he stopped abruptly and played the note Ray, over and over again, in tears.


About the Creator

Richard Seltzer

Richard now writes fulltime. He used to publish public domain ebooks and worked for Digital Equipment as "Internet Evangelist." He graduated from Yale where he had creative writing courses with Robert Penn Warren and Joseph Heller.

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  • Angie the Archivist 📚🪶5 months ago

    I love this… it’s brilliant and heart wrenching 🥹. Where are all the likes and positive comments & even a Top Read!!😳?

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