Advent Day 2: I’m grateful for choirs.

Choir

I’ll admit to loving great big choirs with full orchestras, diva soloists, and hot conductors performing big, fat choral works. 🙂 Screeching out some Verdi choral opera (barely) dressed in ecclesiastical gown (the music, not the choir), getting through a Mahler, bashing out the Bruckner Te Deum, trotting through a Beethoven, rolling through one of Haydn’s many Masses, Gounod, Saint-Saens, Mozart, Schubert, picking through some complicated fugue…. mmmmm. I have quite a bit of affection for big choral works.

There is something quite overwhelming about a live wall of sound like that. I’m not churchy and I am deeply suspicious of organised religion, so I discovered choirs late…. which, really, only made me a born-again chorister for at least two to three years. I mean, I sucked up choral and music knowledge the way I imagine a druggie would snort coke. The camaraderie was a bonus. And “getting” all the choir jokes– that’s fun. Heh.

Singing is portable, and choirs are everywhere. And, yes, sopranos do have the swishiest skirts and the longest hair, altos ARE earthy and sensible, tenors are spoilt, and basses are…. well, ok, I don’t know what basses are. Hairy, apparently. There’s something strangely comforting about going to a choir in some city in almost any part of the world, and finding the same… well, choral archetypes, dynamics, and scripts. And, often, shared repertoire to some extent.

And, of course, there’s the carolling. 🙂 Ah, I miss the carolling. Life has moved on and I no longer sing with a choir, but I am grateful they exist, for they add colour, depth and such vivid experiences to life.

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Outdoor music events.

rio-loco-a

Mind you, it’s not because I love attending them. I don’t do well in crowds and my ears hurt when the music is too loud. But what I do like is that festive and cheerful and slightly chaotic sense of anticipation that outdoor music events bring, especially when they’re by a river. In any city, they change the air. They inject a new buzzy vibe into otherwise uneventful cities (or towns which fancy themselves cities and shall remain unnamed *deadpan*); they add a little frenzy and speed to restful, leisurely, wine-and-siestas cities; and they warm up the hearts and slow down the pace a little in large, faceless, stressful cities. I love all the tie-ins, all the buildup, and all the fringe events.

What I love best about outdoor music events in the summer is that when they’re on, everywhere you go, you can hear riffs of music, electric guitars, the thudding of drums, mellow, beautiful voices, snatches of lyrics, the distant roar of crowds cheering and being in the moment. It’s funny; I love having that sense of aliveness floating around, even at night. I love slipping into sleep listening to those sounds.


Photo is from the Mairie de Toulouse, on their website for Rio Loco.

I’m grateful for all the chances I’ve had to love.

From Day Nine of NaPoWriMo, because I’ve finally started gaining confidence and momentum! It’s late, I know, April’s almost over, but it’s been such fun.

Today’s prompt was suggested by Bruce Niedt. Here’s Bruce’s explanation: take any random song play list (from your iPod, CD player, favorite radio station, Pandora or Spotify , etc.) and use the next five song titles on that randomized list in a poem.

My list
Safe & Sound (Taylor Swift feat. The Civil Wars)
We Might Be Dead Tomorrow (SoKo)
Once Upon a Dream (from “Maleficent”) (Lana Del Rey)
When the Darkness Comes (Colbie Caillart)
Lost It All (Black Veil Brides)

When the darkness comes,
Don’t fret, it will be swift.
Shh, I’ll hold your hand, and
We’ll be safe and sound.
We’ve lost it all before
And nothing can touch us now.
Once upon a dream, we believed
In fairytales: good for the good;
No rest for the wicked.
So love with all your heart
When you have the rare chance,
For we might be dead tomorrow.

I’m grateful for music.

This is for yesterday. The NaPoWriMo prompt was:

Today I challenge you to write a ruba’i. What’s that? Well, it’s a Persian form — multipe stanzas in the ruba’i form are a rubaiyat, as in The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam. Basically, a ruba’i is a four-line stanza, with a rhyme scheme of AABA. Robert Frost’s famous poem Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening uses this rhyme scheme. You can write a poem composed of one ruba’i, or try your hand at more, for a rubaiyat.

 
The grubby man has a guitar with broken strings.
He smiles from behind his begging bowl and sings;
Glances in his bowl while he strokes his silent guitar.
To me, it’s like looking at a bird with broken wings.

I stop to listen for a while to this music-man on the floor.
His fingers pick and strum mute chords while his eyes implore;
Then he disappears into the music, eyes shut against the world.
I know the yearning of the need to dance or sing some more.

 

I’m grateful for poetry in song.

You know how, sometimes, you find songs that just stir something inside you? I somehow can’t help but keep being drawn to the soulful, mournful songs. I love good, poetic lyrics; drama and impact; lyrics that make you see pictures, flashes of images, and that transport you to places, evoke strong emotions; an almost telepathic experience. I listen to them and they wrap me in a different world, a bubble, for just a moment, just infused with feelings and images. Just like a well-written book, actually. Some of them make me wish I were better at lyrical contemporary dance so I could choreograph to them!

Some of my favourites:

The Man Comes Around, Johnny Cash

I am not a Christian, but I do love drama in songs, and few things are written with such imagery and high drama as Revelations. I love his turns of phrases.

Wings, Birdy

This paints pictures in my mind. It makes moments play back in my mind like overexposed film on a Super8. It also reminds me of Rhein in Flammen, of RheinKultur, lying on the grass in the dark next to my best friend(s) in Europe, our jackets under our heads, up on the hill, way away from the main stage(s), watching the fireworks pierce the sky and listening to the accompanying music; and, for some reason, news film images of the night the Berlin Wall came down. I was only very young, but I never forgot them. Total strangers hugging each other in Heathrow Airport; people dancing on top of cars, on the wall; such a time of hope.

Tom Traubert’s Blues, Tom Waits

This one reminds me of one of the saddest, lowest, loneliest times in my life: “No one speaks English and everything’s broken”. But it’s so beautifully written. That, and it reminds me of Australia, even though I know it has nothing to do with Australia.

Fire and Rain, James Taylor

I probably wouldn’t have to explain the appeal of this to anyone who’s experienced loss and grief, deep loneliness, desolation and hopelessness, or, of course, who has lost someone they loved. It’s so honest and beautiful.

Hallelujah, Leonard Cohen

Well, of course. 🙂 This is the version I like best, a zillion covers later. “You say I took the name in vain; I didn’t even know the name; but if I did, well really, what’s it to you? There’s a blaze of light in every word; it doesn’t matter which you heard, the holy or the broken hallelujah!”. And, “I did my best, it wasn’t much; I couldn’t feel, so I tried to touch; I’ve told the truth, I didn’t come to fool you; And even though it all went wrong; I’ll stand before the Lord of Song; With nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah!”. These two verses! I LOVE them.

I’m grateful for the old (and new) poets of music and soul, for they put into the most beautiful words the things I don’t know how to say when I am too stricken or overwhelmed to say it.