Sunday, December 9, 2012

My Contradictory Inspirations For The Day

As usual these days, I have been in quite a bit of pain today. To distract myself, I listened to this work, which is religiously quite foreign to me, but uplifting as a musical work, and a glorious carol of the season...

... and read an article from the Houston Press, Atheism Rising. Take your pick; it took both to help alleviate the pain in my foot (still not wholly gone, and the beginning of this week will be a rough one for related reasons). I am not a Christian. I am not quite, really, an atheist. But I'll take my inspiration where I find it now.

Aside: religious conversion attempts are UNwelcome. Proselytizers will be deleted and banned from the site. Happy Holidays to all of you!


  1. As you know I'm quite irreligious (unless you really believe I worship a large rotund penguin that hatched the universe out of an egg, heh), but there's a good amount of religious music that sends shivers up my spine. David Eugene Edwards's stuff as 16 Horsepower and Wovenhand, for example, channeling the primal Nazarene faith of his youth, often creeps me out with its apocalyptic fervor. Or Mozart's Requiem... music for a funeral Mass, yet again, sends shivers up my spine.

    I suppose that the same primal instincts that give religion power also give music power, and when the two meet, sometimes the two merge into something even more powerful. Or else you get the bland tasteless vanilla boringness of the "Christian" music scene, but that's another story altogether...

    1. "(unless you really believe I worship a large rotund penguin that hatched the universe out of an egg, heh)" - BT

      Is The Great Penguin anything like the Great Pumpkin? %->

      'Tux, music moves me as nothing else does. Why a sense that clearly evolved from a need, probably of much smaller animals, to avoid predators should be so emotionally evocative in humans remains perpetually beyond my grasp. But there it is. I had a strong incentive to improve both as a harpsichordist and as a continuo player: I wanted to sit in the middle of the band as all that glorious sound washed over me, and being a performer was the best way I could think of to have that seat reserved for me. I still miss it.

  2. Love 9 Lessons--it is Xmas morning to me. And Holly & Ivy is a fave (along with 3 Ships). The music is, along with the lights, the real reason for the season!

    1. Me too, NTodd. All of those. There are at least two melodically distinct versions of Holly; if I have a favorite, it's this one. And while I've listened at length to the (legitimate) complaints of American women sopranos and altos who are in England for some reason, there is truly no sound like an all-male choir. Some professional choirs in England use women for the top two voices now; I approve of the move toward equality, but I still miss the sound of those boy sopranos and countertenors.

      I have a friend who is a world-class conductor and harpsichordist, Richard Egarr. (Richard is married to my long-ago colleague, baroque violinist Mimi Mitchell.) Richard's childhood education included a period of singing in one of those choirs like the one on the video; it's excellent pitch training for a kid who even thinks about a career in music. Richard now conducts the Academy of Ancient Music, so I'd say he made it. ;-)

    2. I was about to write: OMG, you go Steve, but thought better of a Jesus card in my screen door today. sigh. This time of year I often listen to the Faure Requiem , probably because my Dad loved it. I also listen to Windom Hill's 'Begin Sweet Earth.' peace, my friend.

    3. karmanot, Faure could make a believer out of anyone... maybe not of the divinity of Jesus, but of the whole sphere of spirituality, that I generally have such trouble with. The truly great composers inspire me as few other humans do, and I allow myself to be so inspired. Spare me most priests, unless they also write music. :-)

      I believe "Begin Sweet World" is one of Richard Stoltzman's works, and it touches me every time I hear it. Glad to hear you know of it; it's one of my favorites.



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