fredag 20 april 2012

Why do I find this music so unpleasant?



There is a certain type of church music written in the 1970s and 80s that I find irritating in the extreme to listen to. There is a clutch of composers who were producing this kind of thing then, particularly in the Catholic church. If I hear it on the radio I will turn it off. Fast. If I think there is a risk of hearing it in a service, I will travel a considerable distance or get out of bed early on a Sunday morning to avoid it and find at least a silent service somewhere.

Why this is so I cannot understand. It is not discordant. It is actually quite tuneful. Perhaps there is something about the tonality of the music itself? Perhaps it stirs up an unpleasant memory? All I know is that I do not want to be around when it is being performed. Even less do I want to sing it. I know also that I am not alone in my dislike of the works of these composers.

I think, however, that it is a technical thing to do with the music, or even a biological effect, because it actually makes my flesh creep. The effect on me is exactly like an allergy to food or dust. There is something about it that repels the mind.

This is not as far-fetched as it sounds. There have been experiments done to see how different types of music activates different parts of the brain. It has been shown that Baroque music, in particular, has a calming effect and even helps recovery from operations, and not just amongst humans. It apparently has an effect on mice! Perhaps there is a professional musician out there who can explain?

Perhaps also it is because it STANDS FOR the deliberate ignoring and destruction of ancient tradition. Somehow it seems to embody the spirit of the the post-Vatican 2 church and the subsequent misinterpretation of the Council's deliberations. It is of a piece with plain polyester vestments, the mistranslation of the text into English, communion received standing, under both kinds and the Body of Christ in the hand, the insensitive and expensive reordering of perfectly good churches from the nineteeth and early twentieth century, new churches that could equally well be cafeterias in a park, railway stations or in the worst case, public toilets - the list goes on and on.

It might even go further than that: encapsulating the ugliness of an entire age - tower blocks, out-of-town shopping malls, multi-storey car parks, urban motorways, unpleasant new sliding door trains and one-person buses, cars styled by marketing directors...

And what is wrong with this, which everyone knows and needs no rehearsal?

2 kommentarer:

Patricius sa...

"I think, however, that it is a technical thing to do with the music, or even a biological effect, because it actually makes my flesh creep. The effect on me is exactly like an allergy to food or dust."

I think you have a point here. It is, to my mind, rather like overdosing on sugar.

Physiocrat sa...

I think it is a technical thing to do with the music. We tried to sing a piece by Ulf Samuelsson and that made my flesh creep. But what is it? Can anyone explain?

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