Saturday, December 26, 2009

Yesterday being Christmas I had occasion to enjoy two things about a familiar carol, Joy to the World by Handel.

First: I will always cherish the one time in my life when the organist correctly observed the dotted quarter note -- not half note -- on the word "king." It not only answered the question as to why that note value never appeared in the tune as "everybody" sings it, but it also most splendidly picked up the entire melody.

In response to what must have been threats over losing his employment this error in judgment was never repeated, except in my head every time I sing the carol.

Second: The singing was followed by an improvisation on the tune using an invented scale. A daring young assistant organist (not the same one of Enjoyment #1) rendered a trumpeting chromatic take on the carol's descending major scale. He used a scale so inventive that, though it would be difficult to reconstruct it note-for-note, no one who heard it can possibly forget its exuberance.

I wonder what kind of official feedback he received.