Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Scrap Paper

As I’ve written earlier (read it HERE), one of my favorite choral “desk jobs” is editing my choral scores from the “edit masters” provided by my favorite choral director. Digital copies (pdfs) of the scores, annotated with the director’s instructions for breathing, interpretive dynamics, divisi assignments, etc., are made available online at the start of each choral project. Because I prefer to work from paper copies rather than from the on-screen images, I print out the edit masters and copy the marks from them into my scores.

Because copyright law prohibits my keeping the printouts permanently, I turn them into scrap paper, cutting the 8 ½ x 11 sheets into quarters, just the right size for shopping lists, book marks, and phone messages. I keep a stack of these little sheets in a kitchen drawer.

This makes for some interesting déjà vu moments.

When I grab a piece of paper from this little pile, I turn it over to see – and hear! – a fragment of whatever’s printed there.

Each little scrap, with its few measures from a musical score, represents a brief glorious moment of beautiful music. In recent days, I’ve picked up snippets of the Verdi Requiem, Handel’s Messiah, Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, and the “Laudamus te” duet from Vivaldi’s Gloria (from last summer’s duet with Jane).

Sometimes the little scrap provides an amusing or startling commentary or aside to whatever task I've assigned to it. This morning, I finished reading Robert Lobdell's book Losing My Religion, his memoir of his journey from evangelical Christianity to atheism.* As I closed the book, I realized that the scrap I had been using for a bookmark contained a portion of Handel's Messiah, from Chorus 46 (Since by Man Came Death): "Even so in Christ shall all be made alive." A wonderfully incongruous coincidence.

Here's my review of Losing My Religion:

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