The pieces for the Musicians In Ordinary season opener at the Heliconian at the end of the month (download the brochure below for more details) are pretty much set. It's hard to time things when you are actually playing them; you are concentrating on the words or getting your fingers in the right place so you forget what the minute hand was on when you started or you are so pleased you got through it you forget you were timing it or, most likely, you crash and burn and don't get through it at all.
So if a piece has been recorded you can see how long it took someone else to play it and unless they play it twice as slow or fast, that's a good enough estimate.
Thus it was that I was looking on itunes to find how long it would take to play John Dowland's pavan Solus cum Sola. The title means 'alone (masculine) with alone (feminine)' or maybe 'He and She Alone Together', and since you leave your daughter alone in a room with her lute teacher it seemed a good thing to play. You may have read in the news that Apple Inc. boss Ian Apple has been censoring slightly risque apps for the iphone and it seems that his crusade has expanded to cleanse the works of lute composers of the Jacobean era. The word 'cum' in Solus cum Sola has had the 'u' replaced with an asterisk. This also seems to be the case with all the Baroque and Classical mass movements that start with the words C*m sancto spiritu. I will never be able to listen to Bach's Mass in B Minor in the same way again.