voicing

I caught the cathedral purring today.  Bright sun filtering through the clerestory onto the ceiling vault.  Vergers on benches or leaning against pillars, at ease among the tiny handful of visitors.  I love it like this; a gift of unmerited grace.

Then, the voicing of the organ began: a long low note from the south transept.   Voicing fascinates me, though I know nothing but what one gleans from hearing it done.  The note begins fuzzy and rumbly and is allowed to fill the space.  Then — slowly, miraculously–  it is gathered in.  The fuzziness stops.  The note rings true, and the building sighs in response.

Pipe after pipe, note after note, it is the same: each drawn into its own centre, then taught to resonate with the others.

It seems like a perfect expression of both church and prayer.  One note at a time, prayer turns the volume up on our fuzziness, till the true note sounds and we are gathered in.

It’s a slow process though.  Slower for people than organs.  In the time I was there, Jophiel and the organ tuners managed three pipes.  God and I were content with just one.

5 thoughts on “voicing

  1. That’s such a beautiful analogy. Since I read this post this morning I keep coming back to think about it some more.

    I’d never heard of voicing an organ before – I’m very interested to hear it done now! I don’t imagine looking it up on YouTube really compares with being there…

  2. Interesting. As an organist I am quite accustomed to this task. It always strikes me odd, however, to hear an organ that has just been tuned as it somehow sounds not quite right. Our instrument (built in 1935) has a certain gentle level of ‘un-tunedness’ that it likes and will wiggle back to that point following a a visit from the organ builders.

    Perhaps it is the same in life, we would not be able to comprehend the full glory of God if we were completely and wholly tuned with God, but we are able to see a glimpse of it in that ever so slightly fuzziness of just slightly out of tune.

  3. That’s a fascinating idea. The fuzziness keeps us returning, and thus perceiving, moving, growing.

    I was reading a book recently about the role of difference in aesthetic theology that was pointing to much the same thing. It is the gap between God’s beauty and our experience of beauty that both forges relationship and keeps us moving into God.
    At least, I think that was part of what it was saying. I got a bit tired of trying to make sense of Pierce’s semiotics, and my reading became sloppy after a while.

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