The alphabet is a universal ordering system within our culture and an arbitrary one. Practically everyone knows the order of the letters of the alphabet. It is one of the first things a child is taught and yet there is no inherent logic to the actual ordering of the letters. Nevertheless, the alphabet is a useful system for manual retrieval of stored information and a useful memory device. Anything that has been named or can be placed in a category can be alphabetized. The alphabet assumes spoken language and is the basic code for written language, although in English phoneticism is chaotic.
In my Performance piece “ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ” (ALPHABET), I have imposed an arbitrary system upon twenty-six activities that have been suggested by the letters of the alphabet. Each section is introduced by the identical and therefore repeated musical theme. The sections are related to each other as they are related to the overall alphabet system and by certain cross-references.
A: “Animals” (film) and eating an apple. B: Bouncing a blue basketball. C: Counting the audience. D: Dance and dream. E: Egg. F: Unzipping my fly and pulling out six yards of red ribbon, slowly. G: Guessing. H: Hoping (“homosexuality”). I: Iceland, Eisenhower, isosceles, etc. J: Jumping rope. K: Kicking a kite and meowing. L: Tearing out pages from my book Luck, arranging them in a grid, then reading one page by chance. M: Matches. N: Nothing. O: Oedipus and riddles. P: Playing the piano. Q: Questions. R: Repeat or Rainbow. S: Singing. T: Traffic. U: Removing my underwear. V: Video film. W: Waltzing. X: X’ing out screen. Y: Yelling. Z: Zoo (film).