The Lost Chord

Sunny and I walked by The Lost Sock Laundromat
this morning, and I started thinking about Arthur Sullivan’s
Lost Chord

Of course, I first started composing a parody about a lost
sock, but I didn’t get very far, and I think if I had
managed to get something to scan properly it wouldn’t have been a
very good parody.

But then I started thinking about the frequently expressed
criticism that a “Great Amen” is two chords, not one.

My guess is that Arthur Sullivan, who was one of the best-known
composers of his era, knew at least as much music theory as these
critics, and if he found that the poem spoke to him anyway, we
should at least give it a chance to speak to us.

Certainly we’ve all had the experience of remembering having
been inspired by an idea, but not remembering the idea. I have
it several times a week with this blog — I sit down and
remember that I’d had a really good idea on last night’s walk,
but not what the idea was. I don’t personally feel particularly
inspired by the idea that the angel of death will bring back all
my lost blog post ideas on my deathbed. But of course, my blog
post ideas may well be less inspiring than Arthur Sullivan’s
organ improvisations, or even Adelaide Proctor’s.

It’s not a particularly easy song to sing, even with the music
in front of you and an accompaniment, but Sunny and I managed to
remember most of the words and stumble through some approximation
of the notes in the half mile walk home. It’s really not a bad song at all.

There’s an arrangement (I think by Clifford Bevan) for Serpent
Ensemble. If you have serpent players who can possibly do
something like tuning the chords, it’s probably fun to play,
although like most serpent ensemble arrangements, it probably
involves the top voice squeaking too high and the bottom voice
grumbling too low and only the middle two voices actually have the
kind of
fun that people go into playing serpent for.

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