Archive for faith

Making beautiful music

I recently played trumpet in a carol service.  I hadn’t played the descants before, but there was an added complication for one of the carols—I only had the descant in concert pitch.  Since I stand a much better chance of playing the right notes when reading a B♭-pitch score, I decided to try my hand at typesetting the carol myself.

I installed LilyPond and downloaded a public domain source file of the carol.  It compiled easily and produced this score:

Sheet music generated from online, public domain LilyPond source

Sheet music generated from online, public domain LilyPond source

Several of the notes were different from my version, so I corrected those and added a descant [obscured for copyright reasons].  I also found out how to add the tails-up, tails-down notation common when printing two parts on one staff.  Then I added musical phrasing and some lyrics.  I had to play about with the layout settings quite a bit to make it fit on one page.  I was very pleased with the end result:

Sheet music after I added (obscured) descant, corrected melody, changed the harmony and layout, and added lyrics and phrasing.

Sheet music after I added (obscured) descant, corrected melody, changed the harmony and layout, and added lyrics and phrasing.

Finally, with the addition of five “transpose” statements—one for each part and one for the descant—and a change of clef from bass to treble, I produced the sheet music for B♭ instruments:

Sheet music transposed for trumpet using LilyPond's transpose directive

Sheet music transposed for trumpet using LilyPond's transpose directive

I am very impressed with LilyPond.  I am now installing Ubuntu to have a go at using Rosegarden, a GUI for editing music.  I might be able to compile it on DarwinPorts and run it on Mac OS X, but it seems simpler to get it running on a Linux VM.

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A vegan Christian?

My last blog post was about me stereotyping other vegans. As if to teach me a lesson, I was stereotyped right back today. Having accepted the hospitality of some Korean Christians, I mentioned that I was a vegan. In a not-wholly-surprising turn of events, there was no vegan option at their lunch. After all, they didn’t know I was coming.

They had plenty of vegetables, but these had all been mixed up with meat to make a sandwich filling, so I ended up eating just bread and water. I didn’t mind at all, though I felt a bit bad for the extremely apologetic Korean lady who explained the situation. I told her it was good preparation for any future prison time I might experience.

Several people asked what the matter was, and the pastor looked visibly shaken to see I was eating such plain food. One very interesting young Korean man asked what my religion was. When I told him I was a Christian, he nearly fell out of his seat. “If you are a Christian, how come you don’t eat meat?”

This mirrors my experiences back in Sheffield. I have attended a number of events hosted by charities, and the refreshments have always included vegetarian and vegan options. When I attend the welcome time before my church service, I invariably end up having just water because everything has eggs, milk or butter. There are a couple of exceptions: I brought a vegan cake once, and someone brought some crisps. Since I was serving the food on that occasion, I didn’t eat any of either. This isn’t a problem—I don’t go to church to eat; however, it does reinforce my opinion that Christians don’t expect anyone else in church to be a vegan.

Perhaps this passage has something to do with it.

On the whole, I don’t think it is the Christians who are the exception here, so much as the charities. I think veganism is still quite rare, and most people just can’t fathom it. Today a homeless man asked me for money to buy food. I was munching on a corncob, and he grimaced at it, saying, “I can’t eat sweetcorn—it just doesn’t taste of anything.” And that was before I told him it was raw. Apparently good vegan food is scorned even by the destitute beggar in this country.

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