The Joys Of Life, Issue 10


For this month of quarantine, I thought I should talk about something that is very personal to my life. It’s a big part of many people’s quarantines, and it connects people who haven’t seen each other for 2 MONTHS! This week we’re talking about the brainworms, the pop tunes, the blues dittys, and the opera arias: Music

Music is a powerful thing. It’s composed of different pieces, the most important being pitch. That’s how high or low the frequency of a note is. If the sound waves are shorter, the note is higher. That’s why skinny strings make high notes and fat strings make deep, BLAAAA, notes.

There’s also tempo. That’s how fast or slow the song is going. There’s this organ in Germany that is playing the slowest possible song. This is because there is 1 beat, like, every 1 billion seconds. Currently we are on a rest, but in September, the organ will play a new note. The whole performance will end on September 5th, 2640. The piece will take 639 years to complete. This is just one demonstration of how crazy tempo can be.

Incidentally, the piece (called As Slow as Possible or ASLSP for short (how is that “for short,” I don’t understand how those letters match those words at all) was composed by John Cage. If you remember the songwriting MX from two years ago, (the one that Benji Gourdji did), there was a piece during that called 4’33’’ of just silence. It’s one long rest. This turns the audience into the music and I think that’s SUPER cool!

But music over sheltering-in-place has been tougher. Almost all concerts have been cancelled, music festivals are dropping like flies, and what’s left has been somewhat awkward virtual performances. One thing that this communal global experience has shown, however, is the power that music holds.

Whether Gal Gadot getting tons and tons of celebrities to sing together, a great Stephen Sondheim

concert with musical theater singers, pop artists, and musicians of all different ilks performing together, the cast of Hamilton on Some Good News, or Lady Gaga’s One World concert, music has proved a connecting tissue.

This translates to Parker music as well. If you didn’t know, I’m in Grape Jam, Parker’s Advanced Choral Ensemble. Parker Choir (and band) have been struggling a little during quarantine because it’s incredibly hard to make music with each other when we aren’t in the same room. Grape Jam has come up with a few solutions.

We split up into smaller groups and recorded “Small Ensemble” songs, where we’d each record our own part and then compile them together into a greater song. This worked for the most part, but some parts sound a little bit off and people are singing at different TEMPOS (tempos are back, remember them from before?) 

Now we’ve changed to a different format so we can record full group pieces. Basically every person gets one line to record on, without video, and then we line up the audio to make it sound good and dandy and make sure the PITCHES (remember those? All these callbacks, Grayson, how can I keep up? I know, I know, just roll with me.) 

There were also a ton of musical performances in the Virtual Talent Show, and then there was an ENTIRE MX dedicated to music. And, thus, through the sheer resilience and beauty inherent to the human condition, music at Parker continues to thrive and be successful. Ms. Castaldi created another musical outlet, “Music Messages,” where members of choir sing a little diddy and then send it out at the end of the week. 

While music around the world seems to be coming to a halt (RIP South by Southwest), musicians continue to persevere, creating art that connects people from around the world through sound, love, beauty and a sprinkle of Zoom editing. And that goes for Parker too. 🙂