What we did before AirTurn and PageFlip

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons


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.


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