Sunday, August 15, 2004

I've been thinking of lots of blogworthy things in the last several days, but my energy level when I have been at home has been pretty feeble. No good reason for this aside from me being lazy. To break out of the rut, just a few recent thoughts about music, starting with,

Lesson Two from Ukraine.

One of the many things I respected about Tabernacle Church of Lviv was the way they used their musical equipment so efficiently. They had one man (I never learned his name) who took care of all the sound equipment, one young man (who was not quite sure yet if he was willing to commit to Christ) who played the guitar pretty well, and one woman who had one of the $200 type Yamaha keyboards. The latter is what caught my attention. I've been a fan of keyboards for a long time, and I know that a lot of time and engineering has gone into these keyboards, even at that price level, to make them flexible for different types of music and easy to work with. For all that, I have never once seen one of these keyboards used to its potential in any sort of public music performance in America. This woman, though, found the best style settings for each praise song we sang and was familiar enough with the controls to do a really fine acompaniment job for us. I know that most of that is not especially difficult. Finding the appropriate style setting is the hard part. After that its mostly just playing basic chords from a lead sheet. But for some reason no one in our fine country has ever seen the need, in my presence, to use such a well designed tool to fill out a small music leading ensemble.

In other news, and I'd be surpised if even one person cared about this one, I was listening to the radio and heard a fascinating piano piece. It was all over the keyboard, it was difficult, it was beautiful, and it sounded strangely like J S Bach. Knowing that Bach did not write for the modern piano and thus did not write anything that would be played in that style, I surmised it must have been a late romantic or modern composer who had studied a lot of Bach or was writing a set of variations or something like that. Turns out I was close. It was a Busoni transcription of a Bach fantasy for violin and orchestra, IIRC. Busoni, for those who don't know, made a career out of doing exactly that sort of thing--trancribing Bach pieces for modern piano. Quite a pianist and composer in his own right as well.

On a similar note, I heard a couple of months ago a transcription of a Bach organ fantasy by Elgar. I thought it was just as good as anything else I'd heard from Elgar. I think Bach is similar to Augustine and Aquinas and Barth, and perhaps Calvin in theology. You could never hope to comprehend their life's work, but you really do need to start somewhere and see what you find.

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