Two Things

Posted on Apr 26, 2017 | Comments Off on Two Things

Why are the the spaces and lines on written music identified by different letters depending which stave they’re written on?   In the top one, the lines are egbdf and the spaces are face.  In the bottom one the lines are gbdfa and the spaces, aceg.  Why?  To make it harder?  To discourage people learning?   To keep reading music confined to a select few?

The scales, cdefgab are the same wherever you range on the piano.  If someone says play c and e and you play these two notes, you can choose any octave on the piano.  So why, when they’re written down between five lines and four spaces (and occasionally a ledger line) are the notes on  the top five lines and spaces identified by different letters from the bottom lines and spaces?

Some centuries ago, did some monk decree that reading music should be made harder so the the peasants couldn’t do it?  Or did he just wake up in a bad mood and think, ‘Right.  Here’s a way to drive logical thinking people crazy. And to keep the reading of music confined to a select few.’

I have tried and failed to think of a reason.  And while it’s not an insurmountable problem, not at all, a bit (or perhaps a little longer than that) of concentration and its done, but it’s illogical, unnecessary, and kids are completely put off.  They learn the top lot and are all set to play with two hands and then they’ve got to learn a different way of identifying the notes – and when they ask you why, you have to shrug and say, ‘Beats me.  It just is.’  Which is highly unsatisfactory for everyone.

And the second thing is more a cautionary note than a query.  There’s a lot of talk, discussion, re helping people who want to commit suicide.  I wonder if the same time and attention is given to those left to pick up the pieces?  When I wrote Wednesday To Come I didn’t expect that one of the outcomes would be that people felt that they now had someone who could identify with their feelings of loss, pain, anger, and shame.  Only those close to the person who kills him or herself know what its like to be ignored, whispered about, blamed, left to struggle on as best they can.  Among these people who approached and still approach me are those to whom it happened a couple of months ago, and those to whom it happened twenty years or more ago.  Time does not always heal.  The shadows that are cast are long and last  forever.

So just a cautionary note – in all the well-meaning and heartfelt attempts to care for those who are contemplating this act, among all the words extolling the beauty, virtue and kindness of those who committed this act, spare a thought and perhaps a word or a hug for those who are left.