Friday, 26 June 2009

A musical Friday five from RevGal Pals

So here's today's Friday Five from Revgalpals:

The sad news of Michael Jackson's untimely death has me thinking about music and its effects on us - individually, as cultures, as generations. Let's think about the soundtracks of our lives...
1) What sort of music did you listen to as a child - this would likely have been determined or influenced by your parents? Or perhaps your family wasn't musical...was the news the background? the radio? Singing around the piano?

I realise more and more that I grew up listening to hymns and carols but also an awful lot of musical theatre. When I was a child family Christmases would always end around the piano with us all singing carols, my Grandfather playing piano and my mum violin. My working class grandparents were very talented musicians and my mother became a violin teacher when I was in my early teens. She played in all the local Gilbert and Sullivan and musical theatre amateur shows. and we children would often spend Saturday or Sunday afternoons at the dress rehearsals. So part of the sound track to my childhood would be "three little girls from school are we" or "they call it it" or "who will buy this beautiful morning?" Most of my own singing though was at church where my grandparents ran the choir. The music I listened to was nearly always "live". I realise quite how privileged this was now - though at the time I didn't always think it was so great to go to another classical concert. My own rebellion was that although I have a good voice I never learnt an instrument nor can I properly read music - something I really do regret now.

But the more I think about it, the radio was even more part of the family soundtrack as I grew up. BBC Radio 4 is the constant in my life, my third parent and additional educator. When I was child we would always have the radio on in the morning and evening for the news but also for the comedy programmes, plays and book readings. So part of the soundtrack was also Men from the Ministry, Just a minute, I'm sorry I haven't a clue, The Archers, PM at 5pm. This part of the soundtrack reaches right up to today thanks to the wonders of the digital revolution. Frankly neither then nor now is any of this in the slightest bit hip!

2) Going ahead to teenage years, is there a song that says "high school" (or whatever it might've been called where you lived") to you?
This is difficult. Middle school was definitely Abba, Bohemian Rhapsody and 10cc's I'm not in love, but then punk happened and we all started dancing in a different sort of way and music changed. I think it would have to be "Going Underground" by the Jam, for its energy and post punkness edginess, though I also love this. Truth be told I was actually listening to stuff noone else at my high school cared much about at all - Maxime Le Forestier and Marie Paule Belle. Not Plasique Bertrand but real French ballad singers, still love that stuff.

3) What is your favorite music for a lift on a down day? (hint: go to and type in a performer/composer...see what you come up with!)
Miles Davis Workin' and Steamin'. Jazz wins every time but Thomas Tallis' spem in Allium can sometimes lift me too as can Golden Brown by the Stranglers.

4) Who is your favorite performer of all time?
My grandmother singing "the gentle, gentle the gentle sounding lute". She sang a very beautiful, sweet, natural and unforced soprano, with extraordinary range ... the sound lives on in my memory but sadly I cannot reproduce it. I can remember her smiling face as she sang but I don't even know the title of the song I just remember that line from it and the glorious sound ...
5) What is your favorite style of music for worship?
An international mix. I am very blessed with this at the ecumenical centre. All this week we've been singing Tenemos esperanza, if I had to choose a current favourite song it would probably be Reamo Leboga, starting slowly and building up to a fast dance tempo. At the end of July we're planning a eucharist with a Caribbean flavour: Laylolaylolaylo, Let us talents and tongues employ but also some Brian Wren Break the bread of belonging, welcome the stranger in the land.
What I partiuclarly like is when we manage to weave music and prayer together meaningfully so that the spoken words and the sung words blend.
As with most of life I'm pretty much an omnivore with styles of music for worship, I love singing the Geneva psalter - Psalm 8's "tous les poissons sur les chemins des mers" always brings a smile to my face. Praise God in music not in dirge would be what I want.

Now as a bonus you wanted a video of any of the above well folks here's Humph, lovely guy, great jazz musician, but here he isn't playing. Rest in peace Humph and thanks for the laughter. And if anyone wants to come round to play Mornington Crescent please note that our household applies the Berlin-Prague rules.


Sue said...

Thanks for this. I'm a huge Brian Wren fan too.

Jane said...

In my first year at seminary Brian Wren was my senior critic for sermon class - I still remember what he said then and it is still apposite - we're from the same denomintation

RevAnne said...

Thanks for the reminder of Brian Wren, who influences me more from a poetry standpoint than a singing one, since I have a halfway decent voice but no real musical aptitude. I think I remember reading that he's any rate he makes it into my prayers on a regular basis.

Mary Beth said...

oh, can i come be your friend and listen to music with you!?

Loved, LOVED the stories of your grandparents. What a gift they gave you.