Sunday, October 3, 2010


For those eagle-eyed enough to notice, the Chickweed daily I drew for October 2nd contained a formal error. The whole rest in the cartoon depended from the third line rather than the fourth (from the bottom) line of the staff. This was, as I say, a formal error, because the placement of the rest does not change its meaning. No musician would have stopped upon seeing it, unable to proceed, flummoxed, paralyzed. ("The whole rest is hanging from the third line! Mein Gott! I can't move! It''s like the worst moment in "Alien"!)

Whole and half rests can, in fact, move at will all over the staff, depending upon spacing of other notes, sometimes appearing in the void above or below the staves (usually in choral reductions). However, a whole rest also has that remarkable ability to represent silence throughout a bar, irrespective of the bar's meter (it can be 4/4, 2/4, 3/8, 6/8 - it doesn't matter). In the bar I drew, that was the rest's function. I might have drawn four rests, arranged vertically, to account for four voice parts in the piece Edda and Amos were playing. To be absolutely accurate, I should have drawn two pairs of staves, consistent with a piano, four hand, piece, along with four fermatas.

The point of the gag, when all is said and done, was the fermata. The consternation, light though it was, over the placement of the whole rest, was a distraction from the whole point of the little romantic entertainment (in fact, the original drawing featured no staff at all - just the big fermata - then I got all fancy pants).

And here is the thing about my complete cartooning oeuvre. It fairly bristles with errors. It is a briar patch of mistakes, inaccuracies, misplaced thumbs, extra nostrils, name it. It is a cross I must bear.

Possibly I need a rest. But only on the fourth line from the bottom. Or half a rest. But that's on the third line, which is a whole nuther circle of hell.