Once again I’ve had to skip a day posting due to being very busy. I had a very long talk with my boss yesterday in which she insisted on hearing my theological criticisms of the church community we both work for. Bless her heart. She said my observations were disturbing but that she values listening to them even if they don’t strike her as accurate. After that I came home and continued working on arrangements for instruments for this Sunday.
Since my Thursday trio rehearsal was canceled (the violinist decided she only had one rehearsal in her for that day and was planning to attend my evening rehearsal at church of instrumentalists) I had more time than I expected so I took a few more pains with the composition for the prelude. I had decided to combine Chaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 opening with the melody to the hymn “For All the Saints.” (Church musicians refer to this melody by its tune name, SINE NOMINE which ironicially is latin for “without a name.”)
This was not a big deal. I also had been sketching how to include HOLY MANNA to this arrangement. HOLY MANNA is the tune to Sundays closing hymn, “Blessed Feast of Blessed Martyrs.” This melody is more often associated with the text, “Brethren we have met to worship.”
Mixing up two or more tunes at once is called “quodlibet” one of Bach’s favorite devices. “Quodlibet” literally means “what you like” and is understand in the sense of being a bit playful, another Latin reference…
I spent a good amount of time reharmonizing SINE NOMINE, then making string trio parts for it. I am so proud of these parts that I’m sure they could stand alone. (In other words, they will be played with the rest of the instruments, but if they are heard alone they sound like a decent little piece) I decided to wind down the piece and end it with just the string trio to expose this harmonization a bit.
After doing the harmonization I then fit the melody for HOLY MANNA to it. This involved some rewriting of the melody so that it’s really more of a obbligato part. This all took quite a bit of time. After doing this I realized that the arrangement itself was actually pretty good and warranted further filling out and polishing. But no time.
At the rehearsal my string trio showed up on time. It was really fun to go over this arrangement and the other arrangements I had done for these three players. Eventually a bass player and a very young clarinetist (whom I wasn’t really expecting but had a few simple parts ready in case he just happen to show) also arrived. I ended up dismissing the strings and working with the other two people on their parts.
I had an interesting post rehearsal conversation with the bass player. He has just finished running a congressional campaign for a local Republican. He said that when they took their advertising campaign (which he helped develop and write) to Washington D.C. the political consultants there criticized them for not doing attack ads. He was amused that the “big boys” were so naive about local politics and ethics. The consultants also were confused as to why they didn’t do more Sunday activities. Pursuing local “conservatives” means having to sort of fit in with the more puritanical notions that Sunday is not a day for anything but the “Lord’s work.”
I didn’t vote for his guy, but I did enjoy chatting with this person involved in the campaign.
In between all my very busy activities lately I have been pondering the question Ray Hinkle posed in a recent comment when he said he wasn’t sure why I “disliked business.” This was in reference to my comments about both top candidates for Michigan governor promising to run the state like a business.
First I was surprised by the question. My life has been one of running in the opposite direction of conventional success. I don’t make much money. I have a very modest dwelling. And I have an excellent life.
I guess that having observed businesses for so long and having read many business gurus like Steven Covey, Peter Drucker, and Robert Greenleaf, my impression is that despite these writers the logic of contemporary business is to pursue short-term profits by almost any legal means. So that it helps to me to understand that businesses often act the way they do as organizations because their primary goal and defining motivation is the “bottom line.”
So business thinking can be efficient for that ends. But this also means that I see a loss of both a sense of civic responsibility and the ability to look at the long term implications of pursuing more lucrative short term solutions.
This explains to me why so many businesses can’t muster good or even mildly workable customer service and are occasionally caught in dishonest if not illegal activities.
In addition to this, I don’t get money and ownership as clear concepts. I am willing to admit that this is sort of a “peter pan” approach to life, but it is congruent with my values and childhood indoctrination into the sayings of the Christ of the New Testament.
Not a week goes by that this atheist/agnostic doesn’t hear words of Jesus ironically in his head: “Take no thought for the morrow, consider the lilies of the field, they neither sow nor reap….. ” In the story of the man who tore down his barns to build bigger and better barns: “Fool this night your soul is required of you.” In other words, tonight you die and have to answer for who you are and how you have lived.
I think Wendell Berry puts it nicely in his poem, “Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front.”
Love the quick profit, the annual raise, vacation with pay. Want more of everything ready-made. Be afraid to know your neighbors and to die. And you will have a window in your head. Not even your future will be a mystery any more. Your mind will be punched in a card and shut away in a little drawer. When they want you to buy something they will call you. When they want you to die for profit they will let you know.
This is not a very important thing to me. “Bottom line” notions permeate our society right now. I realize that I’m very out of step with these quiet little ideas of mine. I find that my understandings and motivations about how to live serve me well. I don’t feel like everyone has to see it the way I do. But I do see that for me, life is something to embrace and I have a tendency to try to stand just behind the kid in the crowd eavesdropping and chuckling when he points to the emperor who is actually humorously exposed.