It’s time to get started on the taxes, so I’ll just describe my
method and then go do it.

As things labeled “Important Tax Document” come in the mail, I
put them in an envelope. That’s sitting on a lower shelf of my
coffee table.

I’ve printed off the Merrill Lynch tax reporting statement.
I’m also printing my spreadsheet where I keep track of income
and donations, although I think I wasn’t very good at doing that
this year, so I’ll have to go through the statement with colored highlighters.

I’m going to go downstairs and boot the laptop into Windows,
where I’ve run TaxCut for the last few years.

Then I’m going to go to the Amazon
Tax Software Downloads page
and buy this year’s software for

Then I start plugging numbers in. I’ll let you know how bad it
was after I’m through.

Two Weeks of Life

I was up far too late last night finishing this

Eleanor Clift, the author, is a reporter whose husband was
dying at home under hospice care during the same two weeks that
Teri Schiavo’s feeding tube had been disconnected.

I had ordered the book when I read the review
in the New York Times,
because one of the things I wanted to use this daily blog to
write about was my experiences last year with the death of my
friend Bonnie.

I had expected to be more interested in the account of the
husband’s death than in the interviews with all the participants
in the Teri Schiavo frenzy. I was, but the Schiavo stuff was
better than I expected, especially the stuff about the role of
the Catholic Church.

For instance,
a small number of weeks before he died, Pope John Paul II had read
a pronouncement that getting food and water through a tube was not
an “extraordinary means” of prolonging life, which was interpreted by
some people to mean that Catholics were prohibited from ordering
the removal of feeding tubes. However, in his own end of life
care, a feeding tube was inserted and removed twice.

One of the links between the two stories is that Clift feels the
hospice movement didn’t do a good job of getting the message out
about what its aims were, when hospice caregivers were being attacked as
murderers by the Right to Life people.

My own experience with the hospice facility where Bonnie spent
her last month was very different from the one described in this
book, probably mostly because I wasn’t being a caregiver, so I
wasn’t getting all the training and support I would have needed
to do that. My difficulties communicating with Bonnie’s
caregivers are another post, but I was certainly glad to have
the internet to look up vocabulary like “active phase of dying”,
because I wasn’t getting good explanations of it from the

One of the points of this book is one I have been trying to make
since last year: that we spend too little time thinking
and talking about dying, which makes it much more difficult for
us to get through it when we finally have to.

Anyway, if you’re interested in any of these issues, this is a
well-written book. It could have used a bit tighter editing:
there are places where the same anecdote is repeated in
different chapters, But on the whole, it’s really well-written
and if you want to think about how to communicate with the
medical profession and how to make decisions about how to die
and what the religious contribution to the politics of all these
decisions is, you should read this book.

Scores are now in PDF’s

It’s lunchtime and I still haven’t posted, so I’m putting up
something I wrote in email to the lilypond
users list

I mostly use lilypond for Renaissance polyphony, where the
original performers didn’t have access to scores, and I feel strongly
that modern performers can play better from parts, so that they have
to learn how their part fits with the others by ear instead of by

But having access to the score does help modern performers analyze,
and that analysis can certainly speed up rehearsals and maybe even
improve the performance. And I do produce a score in the
process of getting the parts typeset and proofread. And of course,
anyone who installs [the right version of] lilypond can print the
score as well as the parts.

For quite a while, I wasn’t putting the score PDF’s up on my site
at all, but now I’ve decided that the scores
Lily makes are so bad that nobody would be tempted to perform from
them if they had access to a nice part with good spacing and *a lot*
fewer page turns. So I have recently modified my scripts so that the
score appears at the end of the parts.

You can see an example in the PDF of Baldwin’s
A Browning

Walk for Hunger Program

The Cantabile
plays every year on the first Sunday in May at the Walk for Hunger, at a
beautiful spot on the banks of the Charles River, near the
Cambridge-Watertown line.

Some years we’ve had as many as 11 people (which is a mistake
because the right half doesn’t have any idea what the left half
is doing). The last two years we’ve been down to 4, and had to
recruit people from the guest group that gives us a couple of
breaks in order to do Now is the Month of Maying,
which has 5 parts.

This year, I thought we had four poeple, but one of them has
been falling down and getting herself injured, so she’s decided
she doesn’t want to make the commitment. So we’ll be a

It’s the right three people — if you were going to pick three
people from the people who come at all often, these are the
three you’d want. There are some problems because the best
singer doesn’t play an instrument, so it won’t be as easy to
intersperse instrumental versions of the things we sing to give
voices and audience a break, or to just play three part dance
tune arrangements instead of learning songs.

So here’s what we’re going to be drawing from for the

There should be enough there to put together a sprightly,
upbeat program, of the kind that if you’d just walked 15 or 20
miles and needed a break would encourage you to have a pleasant
rest, but not make you feel like you never wanted to get up

Report on the March 31 meeting

We played:

  • Loeillet, Sonata, Opus 1, number 8 in D minor
  • Playford, various
  • Weelkes, Upon a hill
  • Farmer, Fair Phyllis
  • Arcadelt, Il bianco e dolce Cigno
  • Two rounds based on The Silver Swan, Gibbons


Meetings in April will be restricted to the people who want to
play the Walk for Hunger
on May 3. If you really want to, and are an instrumentalist or
a bass or soprano vocalist, and you let me know real soon, we can
still squeeze you in on the performance.

Think about dropping by while we’re playing the Walk for Hunger
— we’ll be on the banks of the Charles River roughly at the
Cambridge-Watertown line from 10:30 AM to 3 PM.

Dropin meetings will resume in May.

Transcribing from facsimile

It’s Tuesday, which means I have to get ready for the Cantabile
Band rehearsal, and I just finished guessing where to add time in
the parts for the facsimile I’m transcribing.

I had planned a nice post about my marathon train ride through
Germany, but it’s going to take until well past lunch to write,
and I have other things to take care of.

So that one goes on the spindle, and I’ll just tell you how
much I marvel that they ever got any part books right before there
were computers to take the notes from the parts and combine them
into a score for them.

It’s also surprising that the sixteenth century singers didn’t
care more that there were all those mistakes. In the case of the
Weelkes, I think they weren’t really reading the music the way we
do at all — they just learned it to get the basic tune and then
put the parts together they way they had to go. They knew the
style, and so they didn’t need every ending note to be exactly the
right length to know where to start the next phrase.

You’ll be able to see what I’m talking about when I put the
piece I just transcribed up (maybe tomorrow), but there’s an A
section where the parts are supposed to all cadence together, and
a B section where they all end together. In both cases, once I’d
entered the notes as they were in the facsimile, one part was
short — in the A section the cantus was a half note short, and in
the B section the bassus was a quarter note short.

In both cases, if you knew the style and were really singing by
ear, it wouldn’t have thrown you — of course the Cantus goes back
and starts the A section the second time the way it did the first
time, and starts the B section the way it’s written, even if the
Cantus final note should be a half note longer. In the B
section, the Bassus part was clearly doing the obvious cadence,
even though it was written a quarter note short.

So I doubt that Weelke’s singers had any problem with his
mistakes, but the Cantabile Band would have if I hadn’t fixed them.


I have a dentist appointment this morning, so this is from the
spindle, scheduled yesterday.

I haven’t read the book recently enough to review it, but I saw
the movie from Netflix Saturday night, and enjoyed it more than I

Of course, I might have gotten madder at it if I was more
current with the book, but the movie seemed to include everything
I remembered vividly from the book. I remember the little sister
as being more important, but that might have been from the
sequels. (I think I read two sequels and then gave up. It’s not
a book that really benefited from sequels.)

The special effects are of course not done the same way they
would be now, and I don’t think there were any computer
programmers credited. But that made the movie look more
artistic. I remember being really excited when there were lots of
computer programmers with credits on the first Lord
of the Rings
movie, but really the computer programming
doesn’t add as much as one would hope to movies, and can get
really boring if it’s the only thing you do, as in the more recent

There were some problems with the pacing of the movie — it
started a bit slow. And for all the brand-name actors (Kyle
MacLachlan, José Ferrer, Dean Stockwell, Brad Dourif,
Sting, Kenneth McMillan, Patrick Stewart, Sean Young, and Linda
Hunt), there wasn’t really that much impressive acting. But if
you want the Roman Empire translated into space opera, I don’t
think there’s much better than this out there.

The scene for Sting fans would have been even more artistic if
they’d left it nude, but the studio decided at the last minute
they didn’t want to deal with nude, so he’s wearing a g-string. But
the top half looks good enough you don’t really need the rest.