Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Any final words?

You may find it strange that I'm making an entry about funereal matters when only a day ago I announced my pregnancy. Or maybe it is not so strange; life, death, rites of passage?

Maybe it is my background as an ethnomusicologist but I am usually fascinated with the choice of music at funerals. This is why at regular intervals I make up my own list of music I would like to have played at my funeral. Not that I will be there to enjoy it but it would be nice to add a little bit of my own personality to the cold, marble, formal-dress atmosphere of the rite. And so I end up making mental notes of songs and musics that I enjoy and that I think would be appropriate for the occassion. Some things are of consideration for me.

Firstly, I don't go for shocking or provocative songs and works. I am not much of a shocker during my lifetime, I won't be after I'm gone.
Secondly, no puffed up self-images for me. I'm not going to have Born to be Wild or I did it my way because, frankly, I was not born to be any type except me, and I have no other way than my way anyway.
Thirdly, I believe that music has power. Over the atmosphere, over emotions, over people basically. This means that it can change people's behaviour or enhance it. However, I also believe that this is true to a degree - it works best if it takes into account the current state of mind of the audience as well as the intended mood. Ergo: don't play overly happy songs at sad people because chances are it won't make them happy. Not really. Hence, Always look on the bright side of life is out of the question for me.
Fourthly, I would like the music to reflect the things I appreciated. Seems like an obvious one - it probably is.
Fifthly, one needs to take the overall program into account. Too often one hears a scramble of songs or pieces that are nice enough on their own but when put together they just don't work. There is an art to concert programming and although I do not master that art I do care about how it all fits together. A good program, like a good story, should take the listener along from beginning to end. Especially at a funeral there needs to be a sense of "this is it: the end" for the listeners.

Currently the following works/songs/pieces are on the list. The only trouble I have with them is that the overall program does not fit as well as I would like. The Monteverdi definitely stands out. I have been in love with this piece ever since I first heard it at repertoire class at university. The rendition in the video is not nearly as good as the one by the Royal Opera in Amsterdam (with two women!) but it is the best I could find for you to listen to.

(Please note: the videos accompanying the music are not important. I just picked these videos because of the songs!)

Duet between Nero (Nerone) and Poppea, lovers. Poppea is trying to convince Nerone to stay with her after the night.
I don't really care for the baroque stage setting and costumes in this version. Better close your eyes while you listen. ;)

There is something about Angelique Kidjo's voice that makes me shiver. It is incredibly powerful and versatile. This is a Serge Gainsbourg song and she does it so well.
Haiti earthquake - not a connection I made but okay.

Let's go dancing! There is always an afterwards.

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