Today: a guest Lichtenbergian

 A couple of days ago I got a message from Dr. Barbara Bishop, a worthy in the educational field and a longtime friend:

Hi, so I want to share something with you. It's my first ever song that I've written since the one I wrote in 10th grade. [...] I took the sonnet [60] and added a piano part. I thought you might be interested to see it since a) it's Shakespeare; b) you are a composer, and c) it's truly Lichtenbergian since I have been compelled to work on it instead of about a hundred IB portfolios that I should have been graded the last few days. But seriously, if you have time, I'd love for you to look at it and help me learn what I have done that is particularly illogical or incorrectly notated, etc...I'm sure there's a lot of that since this is my first time.

She had actually performed this work a capella at our second annual Shakespeare Smackdown, and it was quite lovely.  I was interested to hear what she heard in her head as accompaniment.

First, for reference, here's Bill Shakespeare's lyrics:


Like as the waves make towards the pebbled shore,
So do our minutes hasten to their end;
Each changing place with that which goes before,
In sequent toil all forwards do contend.
Nativity, once in the main of light,
Crawls to maturity, wherewith being crown'd,
Crooked eclipses 'gainst his glory fight,
And Time, that gave, doth now his gift confound.
Time doth transfix the flourish set on youth,
And delves the parallels in beauty's brow,
Feeds on the rarities of nature's truth,
And nothing stands but for his scythe to mow.
   And yet to times in hope my verse shall stand,
   Praising thy worth, despite his cruel hand.

Barbara is to be commended for her steadfastness to the Lichtenbergian Precept of TASK AVOIDANCE, not only for working on this song rather than grading critically important International Baccalaureate portfolios, but also for putting the whole thing off for thirty years.

Since she has not been in the habit of composing and therefore owned no music software, she used an online music program, Noteflight.  It seems adequate to the task.  She also could have downloaded Finale's free software, Finale NotePad.

 She exported her piece as a .midi file and emailed it to me so that I could open it in Finale and give it a workover.  Most of my comments are for her ears as she begins to work through GESTALT and SUCCESSIVE APPROXIMATION, but for all our neophyte composers out there, I will suggest that any chord that stretches over an octave is playable only by Chewbacca.  I adjusted those chords for her.

At any rate, it's perfectly cromulent ABORTIVE ATTEMPT, and you should listen to it.  The important thing to remember is that even with "Human Playback" turned on in Finale, there is still no way for it to give the music its full flexibility.  There will always be a certain wooden quality to the playing.  This is not the fault of the composer.