And someone in a tree.
Horowitz pointed out that “very little happens harmonically” in the song.
“Until the so-called chorus,” Sondheim said.
“So how do you sustain interest in the listener with that kind of relentless music?”
Sondheim replied with a story about a visit to New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, where he realized that Japanese art was the ultimate expression of the less-is-more aesthetic. He saw a three-paneled Japanese screen. “The first panel was absolutely blank,” he recalled. “The second panel was absolutely blank except for the end of a bird’s tail; and the third panel had the rest of the bird and a tree. . . . Click! I thought: Ohhhhhhh, it’s all about less is more.”