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  • Writer's pictureChurch Muse

“Inventing Outside Your 'Bach's'” - J.S. Bach's Inventions

When I was in grade school, I remember being assigned a short story called, “Necessity is the Mother of Invention.” As a kid, I thought it sounded funny - Who is this kid, “Invention,” and why is his mother’s name “Necessity?” Of course, after reading the story, I caught on quickly that it wasn’t about people. It means working outside the familiar, using your imagination to create something new to help fix the situation.

I am astounded at the countless examples of imaginative and clever ideas I see being realized out of the necessity of us having to shelter in place. And I suspect that many of these people’s ideas are outside the realm of what they had done before. For instance, I am a musician, not a writer, but sometimes God gives me ideas to post here. Well, He gives me the ideas…. I have to muddle around and try to make some sense of those ideas to put on paper. Also, I am NOT an artist! You should have seen how long it took me to draw that treble clef with the cross in it that’s part of the Church Muse logo! 😳 (The mouse is free clipart.) 😊

Sometimes the challenges of inventing outside your box truly are a necessity. For example, we were having trouble with the sound in the sanctuary for our Facebook live stream. Pastor Craig’s voice could be heard, but in our empty sanctuary, it was “boomy" and less distinct than ideal. But a closeup mic for clarity distorted the organ music and hymn singing. After unsuccessfully trying various mics (mine and the church’s) I ordered a little sound mixer on Amazon. It was great! Nice, clear closeup sound for Pastor Craig and and a mic farther out in the sanctuary for the organ and piano.

But how to get that sound to input in the iPad, our “camera” for our livestreams, was the real challenge. You’re thinking - Kelly’s a musician, she knows sound. Uh, no. I make the music on my instruments, but I don’t have a CLUE how to use a sound mixer. But I’m learning! After some serious Googling and watching YouTube videos, it became clear that we needed this one little adapter to change the iPad connection from an output to an input (headphones vs. microphone.)

Amazon has been faster than ever lately. This little adapter was scheduled to come on Easter Saturday, but it came at 5:20 on Thursday - 10 minutes before I left for the church for our Maundy Thursday service! And it worked! Pastor Craig’s voice is now distinct, and the sound of the organ is not distorted in our livestream.

So the word for the day is CREATIVITY! You may not have a life threatening “McGyver” type problem to solve before the bomb goes off, but doing something outside your usual box can be invigorating, and will help you get through these long days. Do something - every day - that you’ve never done before, even if it is small or even somewhat scary. Be reckless and try a new recipe! Even more frightening….open that closet door or that junk drawer you’ve been avoiding.😬 Sometimes an organized closet or drawer can be just as beautiful as a bouquet of spring flowers. Because….you did that! You made something better!

There is something so orderly and logical about Bach’s music that it seems to be the perfect comfort for us in this chaotic time. I read in the foreword of my Bach Two-Part Inventions book that Bach wrote these 15 little pieces (all in different keys) in 1720, for his oldest son, Wilhelm Friedemann Bach, who was then nine years old. 😲 He revised them over the next three years and finally titled them, “Inventions.” These Two-Part Inventions are not for beginners. But they are probably the least complex of Bach’s contrapuntal music - which uses independent voices, instead of melody and accompaniment. There are only two voices, when some of Bach’s fugues are 3, 4, and 5 voices. So for me, and for you, today, we get two 2-part inventions - No. 13 in A minor, and No. 8 in F major.

As Bach wrote on all his manuscripts, Soli Deo Gloria!

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