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Welcome to Pianonoise!   July edition

the featured recording

Be Thou My Vision
, arr. Jeremy Fischer
A couple of years ago, I had a substitute engagement at a place called Sewickley Presbyterian Church. For the offertory, the associate musician arranged this setting of the popular hymn "Be Thou My Vision" as a kind of jazz ballad for singer and piano. At the time I was unaware of how to share it with you, but now, as a regular staff member, and having discovered the Youtube Channel at SPC, here it is!

July thoughts:


Some People, Use Too Many Commas

Have you ever noticed, that there are some people, who like to use a lot of unnecessary commas? Like croutons, on a salad, they sprinkle them everywhere. Have you ever wondered, why that is?

In the ever growing plethora of human divisions, a lot of rancor is generated by the observance or non-observance of certain grammatical customs or rules. Some of them have simply to do with word choices. For example, have you noticed that less and less people use the word 'fewer' anymore? One assumes that the reason for this rule is that many quantities end with the letter 's' and using a word to modify them that does not also end with an 's' will make the speaker sound less like a snake. It is, in a word, more elegant, which is a quality appreciated by some and deprecated by others.

Some of those others simply don't like the complexity that this kind of elegance requires. Like writing for multiple voices in music, wherein upper motion in one voice is met with downward motion in the others, instead of simply letting them all go in the same direction and not bothering one's head about it (counterpoint is mentally challenging), having to use plural verbs with singular subjects (he swims and they all swim) simply requires more head scratching than making everything match. And in some languages the matchers have carried the day (the use of multiple negatives in Spanish, for instance).

But the comma lobby comes at things from another direction. To me, what they are after is a sonic representation of what their minds are generating and their tongues are speaking. Essentially, it comes down to, not clarity, but a pause for breath. They simply want to be able to stop more often. There are other forms of punctuation that can be pressed into service for more emotive reasons. Such as: colons! The slight catch breath that is created by putting in a completely unnecessary colon represents a dramatization of the mundane, a sense that everything is a revelation. A kind of: wow, this is exciting! Commas can act similarly. Heck, any punctuation can. They have ceased to have separate functions at this point; anything will do, as long as we have time to stop and insert some emotional charge into what we're saying.

People have been trying to put a stop to this as long as there have been people. And there are others, generally a majority, one thinks, that have found this sort of rulish behavior really annoying. Like, enough already!

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