Title: A Parable of Purpose
One day, the notes on a piece of choral music got into a terrible squabble.
“Why do I always have to sit up so high?” whined Eighth Note, perched precariously on the top line of the treble scale.
“Because you’re part of the melody,” said a half note on the tenor line. “You’re like the leader. Everyone else’s part is scaled by the melody line.”
“But it’s uncomfortable up here. And besides that, the higher I have to sit, the harder it is for some of those guys to stay on pitch.”
“Hey! You think you’ve got it rough. Try sitting all the way down here an octave below the bottom of the bass clef,” a disgruntled sixteenth said. “Even if people sing me on the right pitch, they sound like they’re in the bottom of a deep, dark barrel.”
They bickered relentlessly with nearly every note in contention about its place on the scale. Finally, a timid grace note offered a suggestion.
“Why don’t we all rearrange ourselves? That way, we can all sit where we want.”
Finally, all the notes agreed on something. That was a dandy idea, they thought. Before long, little black dots and while circles were moving gleefully around like ants at a picnic.
Soon — after a few minor turf battles — all the notes were settled in to their new spots.
“Oh, this is way more comfortable,” said Eighth Note who had found a space near Middle C.
“Yeah, I like this much better,” said Bass, who had moved to a baritone’s spot.
And, so, the musical mavericks fell asleep, happy and content with their new identities.
They were awakened abruptly when a male barbershop quartet gathered and prepared to perform before a huge audience.
The leader sounded the pitch pipe so each man could find his place of perfect harmony.
They all tuned in to the first note and began to sing.
A couple of measures into the song, when each voice sounded the notes as they appeared on the sheet, the audience choked a collective gasp of discontent.
The men in their tidy black suits and striped shirts looked at one another with shrugs of dismay.
Shouted into silence by the angry crowd, the singers shuffled away in humiliation and hastily left the stage.
“What happened?” Eighth Note whispered to his cohorts.
“YOU should know,” shouted Tenor. “YOU started all this with your confounded complaining about your place on the scale. I tried to tell you the rest of us are all scaled to the melody line, but no-oh-oh, YOU wouldn’t listen.”
“But all of you were willing to change places and find better spots. Why do I get all the blame?” Eighth Note wailed.
“Well, Duh!” Grace Note sneered with a newfound tone of disdain. “Everybody knows you can’t have harmony unless you have a melody. And harmony is what barbershop music is all about. If you don’t do YOUR job, we can’t do OURS.”
“What if we all go back the way we were?” Bass suggested.
After a babble of discussion, the notes agreed that might be the best plan. Quickly, they reassembled themselves and waited to see what would happen next.
Somehow the banished barbershoppers found the courage to come back onstage and try again.
Loud hisses and boos diminished and died as four voices blended into soothing, melodious harmony. As they crooned the last of three encores, the quartet was drowned out once again — but this time by thunderous applause and shouts of praise.
“Wow, I guess melody is pretty important,” Eighth Note said. “Instead of complaining about having to be in an uncomfortable seat in a higher place, I should be thinking about a higher calling, huh?”
“Yeah,” boomed Bass. “Me, too. Somebody has to be the lowest note. Hey! I’m like a bookend that helps hold the scale in place. Wow, that’s pretty important, too, isn’t it?”
“And those of us in the middle and everywhere in between have important work to do, too,” Grace Note said with her returned sweetness. “Every one of us has a specific purpose that only we can accomplish. Wow! I don’t feel insignificant any more, either. In fact, I feel downright special.”
And, with a gentle hum that blended a satisfied melody and a cooperative harmony together, some wiser, happier little notes fell asleep knowing what the great Song of Life is all about.
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