Thursday, January 17, 2013

"Extraordinary how potent cheap music is"

Amanda in Noel Coward's Private Lives.

The Master didn't quite get it right - take the word cheap out.  It is extraordinary how potent music is.

 "I don't want to change the world with our music. There are no hidden messages in our songs..."  (Freddie Mercury, Queen).

Music can be a whole different universe. It can sweep you into melancholy (Debussy's Clair de Lune), into rage (Kate Bush, Get Out of My House), into exuberance (Mussorgsky's Night on Bare Mountain, Queen's Don't Stop Me Now or Jim Steinman's Bad for Good), into joy that's peaceful, that's magnificent, that's laugh out loud and dance.

I could give you a list of songs and symphonies, folk tunes and fantasies, reels and the rhythmic beat of shamanic drums or Gregorian chants.

There is a resonance and magic in it.  Listen to an old, scratchy recording of Saint-Saen's Danse Macabre.  To Greig's In the Hall of the Mountain King (Peer Gynt) - with vocals, if you can find it.  To The Sawdoctor's Still the Only One (the album version is slower and tinglier than that on youtube).  To Christy Moore's Well Below the Valley or Biko Drum.  The sweet memory in Ivor Novello's We'll Gather Lilacs in the Spring Again.

Words as important as melody, but not always needed.  The voice can just be another instrument.

We can all sing, some of us sound more like crows than nightingales.  But listen to the cadence of a crow's cry.  I regularly get an earful from the magpies who come to us for mince.  It's a lovely warble, but deafening at close quarters.

Listen to the rain when (if) it falls.  To the soughing of wind in the branches of trees or tumbling leaves in autumn.  To the small sounds of insects.  To the almost infintesimal sound of soil crumbling in and through your hand.

Stop.  Listen.  Just listen....

1 comment:

  1. "Extraordinary how potent cheap perfume is" - equally extraordinary how Coward's been so often misquoted!

    PS Agree with your praise for Mitsouko - one of my favourites!


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