What we did before AirTurn and PageFlip

I recently came across this ca. 1617 painting of St. Cecilia playing the viol by Domenico Zampieri (1581-1641), known as Domenichino for his small stature. The picture struck me for a number of reasons: the instrument (how many strings? The fierce lion’s head on the scroll! The large size–a precursor of the modern double bass? The shadowy suggestion of frets on the fingerboard); the most unrapturous expression on the face of the saint; the redness of her nose (was it cold in the artist’s studio?); and the cherub standing at her feet holding the score (which she isn’t looking at), presumably turning her pages.

That cherub. Who among us couldn’t use one of those? I guess the page-turning problem has existed for a long time. How many times have I been playing some composition with few or no rests in which one might rapidly turn a page, necessitating a moment of panic where you think you might get lost or not come in at the right time? The creative photocopying-taping combinations I’ve had to make, the binders I’ve had to augment with pieces of cardboard secured with duct tape! And all along all I needed was a cherub to do it for me.

I’ve thought of another use for him: he could put St. Cecilia’s mute on and off too.


Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons