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MusingMuso

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On the assumption that confession is good for the soul, I confess fully and humbly, with a contrite heart, (or whatever it is that is required of a heart in such situations), that I made an utter and complete hash of mass this morning.

 

You see, I picked up the wrong specs on the way out of the house, and whilst I have quite good long vision, when it comes to close up work or medium distance reading (such as a music desk), I need the appropriate spectacles with me. So I took my normal specs for normal vision, but picked up the wrong pair of reading-specs; the sort normally reserved picking ants out the sugar bowl and detecting weevils in bags of flour; that sort of thing anyway.

 

There I was, hunched over the keyboards, looking about as comfortable as Max Reger pouring over his manuscripts in a hunched position; bottle bottoms perched on the end of his nose.

 

It was a disaster waiting to happen when the priest, with a lamentable lack of judgement, passed me the copy for a hymn I had never played previously. (He does this quite often: I think as some sort of sadistic test of my abilities or lack of them).

 

Although it was possible to pick individual specks of dust off the keys, actually finding the keys, (let alone the notes on the page), was problematic, and I was on auto-pilot for the most part; groping my way around like an ageing mole.

 

This included playing a piece in G major, and misreading the key as D major.....what a fascinating world of mixed modes and atonal cacophony that was, until I abandoned it and continued to improvise in two keys simultaneously; skillfully conjoining each theme in the key of E as a sort of half-way compromise, hopefully giving the impression that the resulting harmonic train-wreck was entirely intentional.

 

The irony of the situation was, that the priest told us how important it was to have faith in people and never to abandon hope. Well that's a silly thing to say, and I had to tell him afterwards that the realist is NEVER an optimist, and the only certainty is that people will invariably let you down when you least expect it.

 

I don't know how many "Our fathers" and "Hail Mary's" it takes, or whether there will be some reduction in pay as penance. Having said that, I'm not sure that confession is really the appropriate course of action, because an organist's sins are laid bare in real time rather than in the retrospective, half-lit gloom of the purple-veiled confessional.

 

There's a big difference between "Forgive me Father" and Father asking afterwards, "What the hell was that all about, are you drunk?"

 

However, in the midst of this humiliating and musically turgid scenario, I did learn an important lesson about memory, because I played the Bach C-major 9/8 thingy after the mass, and even though I only had the vaguest visual outline of the music, (which to me, looked like a score by Ligeti) I got through it quite well. This shows that deep down, a work well practised is a work memorised; proving that there was nothing remotely special about the likes of Jean Langlais, Andre Marchal or Louis Vierne.

 

I'm going to buy some bright red reading-spectacles. If they're good enough for Elton John..... B)

 

MM

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My life has been transformed by my first pair of bi-focals - set for distance and not-so-close reading. So I always have a workable pair of specs on. For computer monitors et al, I now just leave an appropriate pair on the desk (one at work, one at home), so I hardly ever have to carry extra specs (middle-distance specs for use in art galleries or museums being the main exception).

 

Paul

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My life has been transformed by my first pair of bi-focals - set for distance and not-so-close reading. So I always have a workable pair of specs on. For computer monitors et al, I now just leave an appropriate pair on the desk (one at work, one at home), so I hardly ever have to carry extra specs (middle-distance specs for use in art galleries or museums being the main exception).

 

Paul

 

 

====================

 

Ah! The trouble is, the music desk is neither here nor there, so to speak, and it falls between the long and short range. This is why I need extra specs just for the organ.

 

I have some varifocals, but the trouble with them is the fact that I have to tilt my head back, until I end up doing a fair impression of Jeanne Guillaut searching for inspiration during an improvisation.

 

Nothing helps if you pick up the wrong specs. B)

 

MM

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That's why I said not-so-close reading. I demanded (against advice) the insert to be in between my monitor specs and my reading specs - this way they are not quite right for either, but equally they will pass muster for both in extremis. This has worked for me better than I dared hope. But maybe my eyes still have just a little more adaptability than yours...

 

Paul

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That's why I said not-so-close reading. I demanded (against advice) the insert to be in between my monitor specs and my reading specs - this way they are not quite right for either, but equally they will pass muster for both in extremis. This has worked for me better than I dared hope. But maybe my eyes still have just a little more adaptability than yours...

 

Paul

 

============================

 

 

I recall the late and great Geraint Jones talking about playing the Schnitger at Steinkerken, where he recorded the instrument wearing two pairs of superimposed spectacles.

 

I haven't quite come to terms with it all yet, because until three years ago, I had enjoyed 20:20 vision. Famously, a group of Yorkshire organists gathered on a hill-top and famous viewing point, and I was able to point out all the power stations running east across Yorkshire.....Ferrybridge, Eggborough and as far as Drax 50 miles away.

 

They shuffled away grumbling when I said, "Hey! You can see the one in Ratcliffe too!" (That's about 60 miles)

 

Only one organist remained at my side, and he said, "You can make out the lake district."

 

"Yes," I grinned proudly, "the Langdale range particularly." B) (About 65miles distant)

 

With a withering look,he asked, "Is anyone out climbing Pavey Ark to-day." :lol:

 

Now where is the reply button?

 

MM

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====================

 

Ah! The trouble is, the music desk is neither here nor there, so to speak, and it falls between the long and short range. This is why I need extra specs just for the organ.

 

 

MM

 

Quite so. And there's a world of difference between a 4m cathedral organ and a humble house organ where the crotchets are six inches from your nose. That's why I have a pair of +1 and a pair of +2 reading specs. Mind you, I still struggle to play all the right notes in the right order....

 

JS

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I have reached an age where vari-focal lenses are the order of the day. Also, having been short sighted all my life, my dotage means increasing long-sightedness and the two conditions gradually cancelling each other out at an ever increasing (and expensive) rate so that my eyes are now probably better than they've ever been.

 

I have heard all kinds of dire warnings about the problems and dangers of playing the organ in vari-focals and needing a special pair of specs solely for organ playing (a bit like shoes) but I can honestly say I've never had any problems using the vari-focals for playing.

 

Malcolm

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I tried vari-focals about a year ago. Like Malcolm, I had no difficulty using them for playing the organ. They were also good for working at a computer, but I could couldn’t get on with them in the rest of my life! I now use separate reading glasses and distance glasses. I tend to use the distance glasses for organ playing because that’s what I’ve always done, but it is becoming clear that I will have to switch over to using the reading glasses. I have an increasing tendency to mistake sharps for naturals and to confuse mordents and inverted mordents.

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I had my eyes lasered. End of problem. It's fantastic. I can even find the soap when I drop it in the shower....

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I have reached an age where vari-focal lenses are the order of the day. Also, having been short sighted all my life, my dotage means increasing long-sightedness and the two conditions gradually cancelling each other out at an ever increasing (and expensive) rate so that my eyes are now probably better than they've ever been.

 

I have heard all kinds of dire warnings about the problems and dangers of playing the organ in vari-focals and needing a special pair of specs solely for organ playing (a bit like shoes) but I can honestly say I've never had any problems using the vari-focals for playing.

 

Malcolm

 

Hi

 

I have a pair of glasses set to an "intermediate" distance (whcih I specified) for organ playing & computer use - that's probably the ideal situation - especially as, for me at any rate, unlike my reading glasses, the mid-distance isn't too blurred to see what's going on during the service (I also use them for preaching). I didn't get on at all well with bifocals - although I now have my distance pair with the smallest possible bifocal segment so that I can see labels, etc when shopping, and use reading glasses for reading.

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony

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