An unknown piece of music

Sunday night I was up late praying and thinking about many things. Sometime shortly after midnight I quieted down and began listening carefully to KBYU FM (classical 89.1) which had been playing in the background. As I listened, they played a piece that sounded to me like it was played on a french horn. Most of the piece was a solo. The piece was delicate, despite the instrument, and it soared and delivered runs of delicate notes. It was astonishing that these notes could come from such a limited instrument. Now I know that there are competent french horn players, and that with practice it is possible to acquire this kind of skill and delicacy with a somewhat cumbersome instrument.

When the piece ended, the KBYU announcer, Peter Van de Graff, informed me that this piece had been played on the tuba. This stunned me. I have never met nor heard any one who can take that heavy, cumbersome and relatively inarticulate instrument and turn it into something that can play music wihch can soar into the skies and dance about like a piccolo. Here are a couple of examples: Baaddsvick and Marshall. The tuba is primarily a percussion instrument. It is like a bass guitar in a rock and roll band. They both thump out a foundation upon which the rest of the orchestra or rock band build melodies. While they exist, there are comparatively few bass guitar solos in rock music. The bass player for Primas, Les Claypool, is a rare exception, but even his amazing gift is mostly percussion. Moving them out of that role is akin to asking Andre the Giant to perform ballet.

As I pondered this, it struck me how very like the heavy, inarticulate, restricted instrument mankind is. But a skilled musician took the very same thing which in normal use gives merely a pounding back beat and brought it front and center in a solo that soared to heaven. If such skill can bring the tuba into submission, then with practice, diligence, desire and the help of God, we can likewise bring ourselves into harmony with God. All things typify Christ and the Gospel. Even that wonderful piece played on a tuba.

My vision of how high man can soar was ratified anew in the testimony of that skilled musician. I believe once we find it is possible to delicately soar in concert with heaven and enjoy the thrilling harmony in God’s creation, that alone should help us rise up. May we each have the humility and the patience and undertake the long-suffering to change our clumsy efforts into a delicate symphony, even so amen.

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