There is much about my secondary school science lessons which I have forgotten. However, one moment is fixed in my memory forever. It is the moment when Mr Berrington, our ginger-bearded science teacher, explained that chemical elements go on forever. ‘So, in theory’ he explained, ‘you could be breathing the same oxygen today which Aristotle once breathed’. Maybe that was still in my mind all those years later when I wrote ‘once it’s played, every note goes on forever’.
Humankind have been arranging notes to make each other laugh, cry, march, fight or mourn since the dawn of time. A few moments ago I read the story of a Sumerian hymn, unearthed on a cuneiform clay tablet in the ancient city of Ugarit. The notes were written down over 4300 years ago, but you can still hear them today. Whether or not they have the same effect upon us as they did on their original hearers, we shall never know.
When all is said and done, there are a finite number of notes, but an infinite number of ways to arrange them. The same could be said of letters. Professor of homiletics, Mike Graves, says that a sermon is ‘just 26 letters, strategically arranged.’ The secret with letters, as with notes, is in the arranging. It is to that task that every preacher of sermons, writer of books and composer of melodies is committed.
As you contemplate the task of arranging words, or notes, in the year ahead, watch Bill Bailey below as he ‘plays’ with the same notes in different ways.
Happy arranging in 2016…