30 Mar, 2021

What’s in a name?

Yes, the Bard got it right: “That which we call a rose / By any other name would smell as sweet”. 

Perhaps then, the name isn’t so important.  On the other hand we know the care that most parents take in deciding their child’s name.  Family favourite?  Nationally popular?  Socially superior?  That’s definitely important!

Pets seem to recognise their names.  Dogs anyway.  Not so sure about hamsters.

Sometimes we invest quality to a name.  ‘Ermine’ springs to mind.  Ermine, the handsome stoat and the soft fur that adorns our British Lords’ and Ladies’ formal finery.  Sounds like real quality.  And yet a slight change in sound can produce the opposite effect: ‘Vermin’.

This isn’t going anywhere so let me get to the point of today’s warbling.  It’s about a present that arrived in my in-tray last year, a gift from a friend of the last fifty years.  And it concerns my name.

Christopher Rathbone, Choral Exhibitioner 1966 in my college, and exact contemporary, composed a “Fugue for Peace”.  I’m truly honoured.

It’s more than that.  You’ll know that the musical scale is based on just seven notes, identified by the letters of the alphabet A to G,  It then repeats itself, higher or lower.  Christopher produced the Fugue based on the letters of my name within that range: D A – – D   – E A C E.   Inventive!  Clever!

Let’s think about that.  I wonder if anyone reading this can claim that their whole name falls within those seven letters.  That would be a challenge!  Christopher might even take that on!

Here’s my ‘Fugue for Peace’.  To see the full score, click here.  To follow it as it’s played by the composer himself, click the video below.  Thank you again, Chris.

1 Comment

  1. What a lovely tribute from Christopher. Does Edward Wickham know about it? I wonder how it would sound played on the College organ?

    In part answer to your point about names and music isn’t it the case that B-A-C-H works in German musical notation? Best wishes Keith & Elizabeth


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