The Epiphany Season
I've had a lot of exposure to new music lately, but I haven't written very much about it because my time has mostly been consumed by the pursuit of perfection.
I have to be honest here: it's pretty slow in coming.
What even constitutes perfect music? And who would want to listen to it?
I suppose, if one (an organist, in this case) took a score (an organ score, in this case) and entered into a computer (a Mac, in this case) in MIDI format, one would receive a note-perfect rendering of the composition.
But a MIDI rendition wouldn't really be that exciting to listen to because it wouldn't be "musical." You need a human for that. Ideally, someone who can play all the right notes and make music too.
One of the most fascinating things about organ pipes is their inconsistency of speech. Sometimes I feel like I've caught a pipe by surprise, and it sounds differently than it usually does. I'll stop what I'm playing and return to the offending pipe, and usually things are okay. But it often happens again, and sometimes other pipes sound in unusual ways.
This esoteric knowledge admittedly does come from playing organs for thousands of hours, but it too enters into the realm of perfection.
A pipe never sounds exactly the same way twice. In this sense, every noise a pipe makes is like a snowflake. Even if the organist could hold a key for exactly the same duration for several successive repetitions of the same pitch, the number and manner of the air column vibrations inside the pipe would be different.
Also, pipes talk to each other. Windchests allow pressures in one pipe to be affected by the opening and closing of others nearby.
So, I guess what I'm getting at is that these pipes are created in our image. They are designed to do certain things, but sometimes they don't do it correctly, and even if they do, they're often doing it in different ways.
So are our efforts as musicians snowflakesque. There's all kinds of variability in our performances, despite what recording engineers would have us believe.
Perfection is an illusion, though increasingly available (and necessary?) to the modern world.
A post-modern world that has no need for a perfect God must believe it is capable of its own perfection.
I, on the other hand, believe in an all-perfect God. Yet I'm still seeking perfection.
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