Who can ignore the classic Della Reese who sang songs purloined from the themes that occur in the classical oeuvre?
A COMMON belief is that the best things in life are free. I like to think that it is true when it comes to music.
I always marvel at composers and performers who, with only eight notes (plus accidentals), contrive such exquisite sounds that we cannot doubt the truth of a higher being.
My sentiment is not confined to classical music. But who can be unmoved by the mathematical symmetry of a Bach fugue, or the soul-stretching pathos of a prelude by Chopin? I do not pander to the notion of pinkie-in-the-air wine-bibbers who adopt a snooty attitude to those who haven’t dived into the grandeur of a Beethoven cathedral of sound.
There is much in the popular idiom that has the rolling resonances of the hoary classics of Mozart or Haydn, or the lyricism of Scheherazade by Tchaikovsky. Or the more modern tendencies of Stravinsky and Claude Debussy’s Afternoon with a Faun.
Sir Paul McCartney achieved immortality with a song which he originally called Scrambled Eggs, which morphed into the timeless classic Yesterday.
And who can ignore the classic Della Reese who sang songs purloined from the themes that occur in the classical oeuvre?
One example is “This is the story of a starry night”.
Don McClean wasn’t far off when he followed the cue and composed that gut-wrenching tribute to the hapless Vincent van Gogh in Starry, Starry Night.
Antonin Dvorak gave us Going Home, a haunting tune that often serves as a funeral march.
I often listen to the call to prayers from the minaret in our suburb.
I find it difficult to sing along because the tonal structures are different. But I recognise that this strange tune is an earnest call to prayer.
It sensitises the soul to its origin, which is God. And the jerky cricket-like hops of the Japanese melodies also have their charm, if we listen with an open ear.
As William Congreve asserted in The Mourning Bride (1697): “Music hath charms to soothe the savage breast/To soften Rocks, or bend a knotted Oak.” And Duke Orsino in Twelfth Night reminds us that: “If music be the food of love, play on.”
It is music that creates the lasting memories. How often we look at a loved one and say: “Darling, they are playing our song.” The memories of youth, strength and love that would never die come flooding back. We are not averse to taking our partner of many years (and tears) to dance to the gentle strain of Patti Page singing the Tennessee Waltz.
My all-time favourite has to be an obscure song that featured in a forgettable film called Unchained.
Yes, you guessed it. Unchained Melody.
Oh, my love, my darling, I’ve hungered for your touch, a long lonely time.