Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Music good and not so good

I’ve just come back from choir, where we’re singing Vivaldi’s “Gloria” – beautiful! – and Lauridson’s “Lux Aeterna” – ho, hum, lots of dissonance. Judging by past experience with horrid modern things, I’ll probably get quite to like this eventually; but the unfortunate audience at our performance won’t get the chance for their ears to become accustomed to it. I’ll recommend that Mr Life bring a crossword that night.

I was musing, during the boring bits of rehearsal, about music that I can’t stand. I mentioned “A Whiter Shade of Pale” recently. Ugh. Dirge. And “MacArthur Park”. Drone, drone. (In my opinion.) The other day some students were discussing songs that they were now embarrassed to admit having liked and asked me for my contribution. I came up with Barry Manilow’s “Copacabana” and they laughed – satisfactorily ridiculous in their eyes. I’m actually not much of a pop lover and certainly not a rock lover – don’t like noisy bangy music - but I still quite like “Copacabana” and some of the Beatles and various other things with tunes. But really Cole Porter and Gershwin are more to my taste in light music.

I really dislike the hymn “Amazing Grace". It was ruined for me some years ago by being constantly on the radio in a bagpipe version. Another set of drones. I don't mind bagpipe music really (from a distance) but somehow it did nothing for this particular tune. I couldn’t help singing along: “Uuuuuuuuuuu-ah-maaaaaaaaay-zzzzzziiiiiiiiing-graaaaaaayce…”.

What music can’t you stand? (Bah, humbug.)


  1. I am not a fan of Little Drummer Boy, in the Christmas tune realm, because I had it on a record as a child. The record had a skip in it and the man sang "ba rum pa, ba rum pa, ba rum, pa" over and over, instead of ba rum pa pum pum.
    I love Amazing Grace and How Great Thou Art; they bring tears to my eyes each time I hear them, though I've never heard them in bagpipes. :)

  2. Amazing Grace is not one of my favourites either, I have to say - lots of dreadful renditions in my past! While I love all kinds of music, jazz drives me crackers. I think it is the demented double bass solos which leave me completely cold, but I do love the music from the 60s,70s,80s. I love classical music too.

  3. I loathe my husband's "Best of Tracey Ullman" CD. In my opinion, it is not a good example of her talents, and her covers of some well-known songs are dreadful. I particularly dislike hearing my four year old son droning along with her, "I Know What Boys Like," from the back seat of the car.

  4. Well, this time of year brings to mind Holly Jolly Christmas, Jingle Bell Rock, Feliz Navidad -- as well as any rendition of White Christmas, Sleigh Ride, etc that is made to sound like a funeral dirge.

  5. Is Macarthur park the one about baking the cake? Cos I loathe that song.

    I'm not a fan of whiny singing voices in general, and I know this is a bit sacrilegious to admit, but I usually prefer Bob Dylan songs when he ISN'T the singer.

  6. Oooh goody goody (rubs hands together) - well, I really hate Jingle Bells, and Good King Wencelas, and Little Drummer Boy is not much chop either.

    O Little Town of Bethlehem is one of my very favourites.

  7. I dislike Christmas music in November!

    Not into Jazz at all, but still enjoy the music from 50's & 60's.

  8. Having played in a local community band I am OVER any Christmas Carol. Being a music teacher I hear many versions of many songs and after a while they all become really quite dreary. I now listen to all the 'community' radio stations as they play quite unusual songs.

  9. Thank you for being in a choir. It must take a lot of dedication (from your blog, I know you're good at dedication).

  10. Embarassed to admit that I can't help but like Last Christmas by George Michael (or was he still Wham then??). Ridiculously schmaltzy but I always smile when I hear must have good associations for me as I usually have impeccable

    Dislike intensely Crocodile Rock and Benny and the Jets by Elton John. Hate the "Naaaa, na na na na na" bit, a lot.

    I seem to like most Christmas music strangely although, like other posters, not keen on The Little Drummer Boy. Oh, apart from when sung by the Sheffield Wednesday crowd, substituting the name "Emerson Thome, Emerson Thome" for the "Rum pa pum pum, Rum pa pum pum" bit, then it's alright.

    Good post - most thought provoking!

    PS. Know what you mean about modern discordant stuff. I remember years ago our summer school choir singing a newly written choral piece which had been commissioned for us (live on Radio 3 from St Georges Chapel in Windsor!). When the composer (bast**d) came to the final rehearsal he actually apologised to us for making it so difficult. It was a 12 part discordant, dissonant and very unharmonious piece of rubbish and he knew it. Grrrrrr

  11. Hello Isabelle. I do like A Whiter Shade of Pale, but as I have studiously kept my life free from most pop music, it is a bit hard to specify the most disliked ones. I always switch it off, and almost go berserk if I can hear it on the bus emanating from people's earphones.
    I HATE Jingle Bells and We Wish You a Merry Christmas, and things like that.
    I wish my children liked classical music more, but maybe they think they heard too much when they were little. In another incarnation we could try again?
    Singing modern compositions can be a sore trial. In Canberra once we sang a thing called Daintree by an eminent Australian composer and I thought it was a foul thing to sing. We were required at one time to make all kinds of weird noises, glissando sort of noises. Apparently this enabled the audience to hear the sound of the rain forest after which the piece was named, and people said it was interesting (!) and impressive in its way. I did not really believe them. If I never hear it again I won't mind.
    We had another one composed by our then conductor, and I think he was trying to write the piece with the highest number of decibels. As I was very close to the numerous noisy percussion instruments, it is a wonder I came away with my hearing and sanity intact.
    Enjoy the Gloria. I love it too. And I know what you mean about learning to like the music you have to sing. It is just a form of self defence.

  12. Hello Isabelle! I'm sorry to say I don't know the songs that you are practicing for your choral concert. I sure wish I could hear you sing them. One of my fondest memories from our trip was hearing you sing on Saturday morning!

    I LOVE Christmas carols, my favorites being What Child is This and O Holy Night (possibly because I can play easy versions of them on the piano LOL.) I'm not a big fan of country music and don't quite understand the obsession that my kids and their generation have with it. I'm told it's not really country music anymore, but more like a cross between pop and country. Still not a fan!

  13. Anything by Katie Mellua. She makes my teeth hurt.

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  15. I am amused to hear your feelings about "Amazing Grace". I hadn't thought about it before; I just put up with it I think, because the MOTH turns to marshmallow whenever it is played. But you've put my innermost feelings into words - it's a dirge!
    I enjoy most church music (including 'Gloria', which was one of my father's favourites) as I was brought up on a steady diet of Bach, Vivaldi, etc. with my Dad in his church choir.
    But I like most music except the awful headbanging stuff that kids listen to these days, which under no circumstances should be referred to as 'music' in my opinion! But I'm old now, and I remember my Dad used to hate Elvis with a passion. He never forgave me for being an Elvis fan!!

  16. A Scot who admits to not liking bagpipes, eh!
    I like the definition of "a gentleman" - One who can play the bagpipes, but doesn't. (Actually, I rather enjoy them - stirring and martial - and I'm a Sassenach!)

  17. I can't stand any of the music on Son #1's iPod.

  18. I find that I am a sad old woman. I loathe all Christmas music!
    Most of all I detest Amazing Grace, because it was played at my father's funeral, & I know he didn't like it either.
    Apart from that I have a very wide range of musical favourites.