The musician’s hand

It’s hard to believe that I, a shameless book nerd, a lover of libraries and the written word, a proponent of public spaces and exhibitions, yes, me, it is hard to believe that in all my times living in and visiting London, I have never been to the British Library.

So yesterday I went to the British Library. I didn’t stay long, just connected to the free wi-fi and had a quick look through their treasures exhibition. They have a collection of hand written documents – important legal documents like the Magna Carta, of course, and bibles and shit, as well as the original manuscripts for Dickens and Austen and the Beatles. They also have a collection of original scores. I learned that even in sheet music each artist has their own handwriting. I suppose this shouldn’t be a surprise. Each composer has their own style, a long flourish for the quaver, a short dot of surprise at the bottom of a crotchet, semi, demi, hemidemisemi quavers of various shapes and sizes. Chopin’s hand was small and neat, precise. Young Beethoven’s was large and messy, dynamic.

And John Lennon had rather neat handwriting.

Handel's Messiah. Pic: The British Library
Handel’s Messiah. Pic: The British Library
John Lennon's draft of Strawberry Fields (Sony). Pic: The British Museum
John Lennon’s draft of Strawberry Fields (Sony). Pic: The British Library

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Nat Newman - portrait

Nat Newman

Nat Newman is an award-winning writer of short stories, content, podcasts, feature articles, drunk text messages and, soon, a novella.


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