(with apologies for the mixed metaphors…)
Now there’s a composer…
He wrote 2-part inventions for the keyboard – a kind of weaving of two equally important lines of music so that together they form harmony – very different from the “melody and chords” style favoured by modern-day popular music.A bit like a two-thread braid
Clever stuff, eh?
But he didn’t stop there – he also wrote 3-part inventions .
Think “plait” here…
And yes, the player still only has two hands… means each hand in turn sometimes has to play two parts at once.
And here’s one of his 4-part fugues (have you ever attempted a 4-strand plait?) – the usual written version has the lines on just two staves – the scrolling music in the video helps you to see the 4 “voices” as the player plays it with just two hands. Totally do-able if you’ve practised piano for enough years – I’ve done it.
Finally, just to wow you completely – yes, the 5-part fugue exists – still played by just two hands at one keyboard.
In my small way, I am also a composer – largely at the moment orchestral scores for Elson Youth Orchestra, a local community orchestra whose members are largely pre-Grade 1 to Grade 4 standard. There isn’t a lot of music out there with parts for “3rd violin – nice long notes, mostly open strings with very occasional 1st fingers” which also accommodates “2nd violin – 1st and 2nd fingers but only step-wise ascending” alongside “beginner trumpet – range of 5 notes, not the same range as beginner violin”… OK, my original compositions aren’t on a part with a Bach 5-part fugue – but amazingly, when all the parts (individually so simple they verge on the meaningless in terms of melody) are played together, somehow it works.
God – now there’s a composer.
The stuff he gets up to makes Bach’s 5-part fugues look like a tangled mess.
Speaking of which, have you ever been handed a ball of tangled string to untangle? Takes time, doesn’t it. And patience.
Come to that, have you ever had to untangle a panicking kitten from a ball of string or wool? Now that can be painful – possibly more for the untangler than for the kitten, but sometimes for both.
Do you see where I’m going with this?
We – all of us, not just “them”, get things almost impossibly tangled. Small things as much as, if not more than, big things. And it restricts and hurts both us and those around us, especially when we invite – nay, encourage – others to join us in our own particular tangle.
God works ceaselessly, tirelessly in and through the whole of all that is, both the physical world and the psychological and social constructs that define us, to untangle the mess.
Hey, God cares so, so much that at one point he even allowed us to draw him into our tangled mess. He made himself helpless, allowed himself to be tied up, seemingly destroyed once and for all.
But then, somehow he was no longer tangled up – he was standing free, with the ball of string neatly rolled up.
And he invites us, as he invited Lazarus, to do likewise.
To be free.
To live in freedom.
He offers to untangle us, and the more we co-operate the less it hurts.
The more we co-operate, the less tangled the world is.
One life at a time – that’s how the kingdom grows.
So whether you are currently only able to manage “3rd violin – nice long notes, mostly open strings” or whether you’re already at the “5-part fugue? Bring it on!” stage, hang on in there. The Great Composer is blending it all together to create a harmony beyond our imagining.