Man is stranded on planet and there is an alien that makes noises with its body he starts doing improv music with. Becomes a dream life of pleasant duo music. Rescuers come and kill the scary looking alien. Man becomes violent and ends up having his memory adjusted. Sometimes has vague feeling of having missed something.

  • I remember this one but not the title or author unfortunately.
    – Fruitbat
    Commented Jan 27, 2016 at 13:02

2 Answers 2


The story is Something Else by Robert J Tilley.

A man is stranded on a planet

The dust and wreckage took some time to settle, and it was several minutes after that Dr. Sidney Williams, having surmised correctly that he was the sole survivor, emerged from the only section of the ship that had remained in one piece. He gazed forlornly at the alien landscape.

He plays jazz tapes...

There was a click, a faint whisper of irremovable surface wear from the original recording that he had always found an endearingly essential part of the performance, and Duke Ellington's Ko Ko racketed into the stillness of the alien afternoon.

He hears a response...

Some distance away, the opening bars of Duke Ellington's Ko Ko grunted springingly into being beyond the muffling barrier of the trees.

It rurns out to be an alien creature imitating the sounds...

It was rather, Dr. Williams sweatingly concluded, like a cross between an outsized potato sack and an octopus,..

He accompanies the creature on his clarinet...

Each passing day found him increasingly aware of the understanding that integrated their musical conception, something that had existed from the beginning but was now of an interweaving complexity beyond anything that he had ever remotely envisaged.

Rescuers kill the alien and Dr. Williams becomes violent...

'Poor guy', a panting voice said. He must have really taken off. If anybody saved me from a thing like that, the last thing I'd do would be to try and brain them.'

He has his memories adjusted...

When the ship reached Earth he was immediately rushed to a place where doctors and machines were waiting to seal off the nightmares forever behind impregnable doors, and after a time they succeeded.


... Dr. Williams would feel something that was inescapably buried inside him stir faintly, a dim and fading cadence that sounded far beyond his remembering but which briefly moved him to wonderment and an intangible longing.

  • Well done! Since you answered this one, I closed the identical question from three years ago as a duplicate.
    – user14111
    Commented Jan 27, 2016 at 20:55
  • I clearly need to check old questions more closely...
    – Fruitbat
    Commented Jan 27, 2016 at 21:45
  • Thank you SO much. That is indeed it. This has been bugging me for 20 years and I couldn't count how many google hours I have put into unsuccessfully trying to find the answer myself. Commented Feb 5, 2016 at 16:26

I don't suppose it is "The Still Small Voice of Trumpets" by LLoyd Biggle? I can track it down as a novel (eg on Goodreads.com), but I have the feeling it may have started as a short story. It was something to do with playing music one-handed. So it may not be aliens after all...


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