Monday, July 6, 2009

A Bit of Music

I was looking around to see if I could find any recordings of Gaelic music from eastern Canada, and I found this video. The singer/fiddler is Glenn Graham, and the video was taken at the Celtic Music Interpretive Centre in Judique, Nova Scotia.

One of my firmest beliefs (which you might gather from my inclination to post clips of mouth music) is that singing is an indispensable element of musicianship. I suppose I could label it neatly as "a good way to internalize music," but it's deeper than that--it's the most human way to approach music. Comparatively few people claim to be good singers, but a surprising amount of people do sing, to the radio, or to their favorite CDs while sighing all the while that they are not musical. One of the big disadvantages of the recording age (says I, from the top of my soapbox) is that a certain musical "sainthood," you might say, is bestowed on the people who manage to make it onto a recording, or onto the stage. They may have the fame, but it is a huge mistake to suppose that the purpose of music is fame or fortune (well, ha! I s'pose very few, even among the professionals have any delusions about fortune, but still. . .), or that it is an elite occupation. Music, if you sift back a few years, to the sea chanteys, the waulking songs, the spirituals of the South, or the ballads of the prairies, was very much the provenance of the common man. There is an undeniable delight in hearing a musician who is at the top of his game, and who can play or sing things that nobody else can play and sing, but appreciation of the same stems from the fact that music is a natural human expression. As such, it doesn't take years of training. It takes sitting down and singing.

P.S. I declare! Speaking of musicians, as I write this one of my neighbors is learning to play the trumpet. Still in the beginning stages; it sounds like he (?) is still working on training his lips to hold a note for more than a second or two. I for one, am quite delighted. . .those who endure the misery of learning an instrument which is rarely private (the pipes) can't help but love a little company!

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