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Toward the end of the eighteen century, when Mozart was about twenty-five, he wrote twelve variations on a tune that we know as “Twinkle, twinkle, little star”. Variations are musical twists and turns on a basic tune, keeping always connected to the theme, but creating a rearrangement in double-time, or right-hand arpeggios, left-hand arpeggios, etc. One wonders, how many variations, are actually possible. Composers like Beethoven scored beyond twelve on a theme, but I’m not sure that anyone has yet topped fifty.
It continues to amaze me how many variations there are on that basic tune “Adam”. The first variation of course was Eve, then Cain and Abel. And how many billions there have been since! Each with their own signature gait, fingerprint, style of handwriting, yet always keeping connected to the original theme. I see the phenomenon in my own three children, and especially in the twins: they couldn’t be more closely related, but yet are so different.
One of the Psalm-writers in the Book observed: “He determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name.” And in a variation on that theme, Paul marveled that ‘the sun has one kind of splendour, and the moon another and stars another; and star differs from star in splendour.’ Who then is this, that has no limit to the variations He can make! And there’s the marvel: that this is the One ‘with whom there is no variation, nor shadow of turning’.
DM 20th July 2020