I am moved by Lady Percy 's expression of love. CLICK HERE - see if you agree.
Otherwise my novels, short stories, verse, family, music, memories, vulgar interests, detestations,
responses, apologies. I hold posts to 300 words* having found less is better than more.
I re-comment on comments and re-re-re-comment on re-re-comments.
* One exception: short stories.

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Heavenly music, heavenly words

Perhaps aware of Tone Deaf’s godlessness Beth comments “I too am a classical music lover and lifelong choir singer (high church Anglican, I'm afraid).” I make noises about being the paradoxical atheist owning CDs of Easter Oratorio, excerpts from Die SchÅ‘pfung and Dream of Gerontius.

But I realise I can go further; Christian (or at least Biblical) words can also transfix me. Take the Messiah aria, “He was despised” and especially:

A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.

Handel’s setting is masterly (more later) but that’s a hell of a libretto. First glance - “acquainted” seems under-stated; second glance – but not if grief means what grief should. Exaggeration is the enemy of depth; this phrase uses great art to fix a sense of tragedy.

Providing a link to a JANET BAKER version I email Julia asking: Is the aria minor key? For surely (to this ignoramus at least) this is why music and words fuse so effectively
Here’s her answer: Handel is playing with major and minor (but) the aria is set in E flat Major and ends with a nice solid E flat M chord. I can see how you would think it was minor though, as he uses the second and the seventh to create tight intervals that make us think of minor keys, and he also adds an E flat minor chord to move the major into minor at particularly sad moments in the text (see "grief" at 1:54).

Conclusions: (1) I remain an ignoramus but my instincts rate 3/10. (2) Handel was well ahead of me – what a surprise! (3) The King James committee score 9/10. (4) Memo: must invite Julia to become TD’s musical consultant. (5) Julia accepts.

SECURITY NOTE Other bloggers, more courageous than me and more sensitive to the needs of commenters, have switched off Blogger's fiendish word verification system. (A simple matter in Settings). Yesterday I did so and received a very strange comment which appeared in Inbox but not in the blog. But I'll give it a week or so before I decide. 


  1. I'll send you a pdf of the score - it's a treat to read through it and see just how well Handel handles the text!

  2. I switched off WV two days ago and have now received two spams to my email Inbox purporting to be "comments" on the blog, but they do not appear in the blog as "comments" - that is fine by me. I do have Blogger set to inform me when " comments" are received.

    It is early days yet. I hope you will publish your own ongoing experience of this trial.

  3. Sir Hugh: Not fine by me. My "comment email" had a website address embedded in it and I deleted it.

  4. Check comments spam on Blogger, they'll be there probably. It's quite efficient these days and has largely got around the need for WV, though one still gets them in the inbox of course, which is mildly annoying.

    Glad you've made Beth's acquaintance. That Julia's a trooper isn't she?