Musical Questions

Sorry to be absent, the flu hit our house and it’s been a slow recovery. Here’s something I saved from a week or so ago I think you will enjoy:

I believe Maggie over at From Cave Walls posted this last week. I saved the questions in a draft and am finally getting around to answering them. I’d love for my musical friends to answer them as well.

Do you choose to play music that matches your mood?

When I have absolute control over it, I think I tend to. I used to have a collection of cassettes in my car that were all “themed.”. I had one with fast music for cruising, one with sad songs on it for “those” days, a tape of love songs, etc…

When the radio is on, I punch around looking for something that connects with me. Maybe it fits the mood, but sometimes, I’m just looking for a favorite to sing along with.

Do you ever use music to change your mood?

Absolutely! I would say music is my “go to” when I need to change my mood. Music is really good for that.

Do you use music to relax or to fall asleep?

Yes. When I need to relax I often find a play list on YouTube or play a Pandora or Sirius XM channel.

I used to be able to play music in headphones and fall asleep, but I don’t anymore. Now, it is the music from my kid’s sound machine that plays. Sometimes it bothers me, but most of the time, it helps.

When do you like music with lyrics versus instrumental music?

I think both are good anytime, really. When I’m reading or studying, I tend to like light instrumental music.

Does music distract you if you are trying to concentrate?

Sometimes it does, and if that is the case, I will turn it off or lower the volume. However, as I just said, when I am reading or studying I find it doesn’t distract me at all (when it is the right type of music)

Do you like percussion arrangements with no other instrumentation?

Percussion is important – it keeps the whole song on time. Back in the 50’s there were plenty of “drum” features (Bongo Rock, Topsy Part 2, Teen Beat, Wipe Out, etc…) But they all had other instruments playing. If it’s just drums, it had better be good. Not saying I don’t like a good drum solo, but I can’t really pull a “just drum” song out of my head that stands out.

Do you listen to classical music?

Absolutely! I love it. There are so many fantastic pieces by Beethoven, Bach, Mozart, Haydn, Vivaldi, Chopin, and others that are worth listening to! I listen to it a lot, especially when I am working.

I also love listening to it in the car. It’s always cool when they play something we played in band class.

Do upbeat rhythms make you want to get up and dance?

There are very few songs that I will “fast dance” to. I dance worse than Elaine on Seinfeld! Jump Around by House of Pain is one I will get out for because all you have to do is jump up and down and it doesn’t matter!!

What music grates on your nerves?

I have some formats that I dislike, but there are the occasional songs from those formats that I do like. That said, Rap is probably my least favorite. At the same time, there are very few songs out today that I like.

A Blog in Three Quarter Time

There is a thing that circulates on Facebook every so often that says, “Every thing I learned about Classical Music, I learned from Looney Tunes.” In a way, that is true for me (and a lot of people). Here is a link to an article from Classic FM:

I bring this up for a silly reason today. I was playing that crazy racing game Forza Horizon 5 the other day. In the game, there are different radio stations you can listen to. I usually have the classical music station on as I play the game. I think there are like 10 songs that rotate. Every time this one song would come on, I’d laugh because I’d think of cartoon trapeze artists. I bet without even hearing it, you know what song I am talking about!

In my 52 years, I never knew the name of it or who composed it. I know know. Forza Horizon 5 is set in Mexico, so it is only appropriate that the song was written by a Mexican composer by the name of Juventino Rosas. The waltz (in 3/4 time) is called Sobre las Olas or “Over the Waves.” It was first published in 1888!

The song has been recorded by Chet Atkins, The Beach Boys, Pete Fountain and Willie Nelson! It appeared in the 1943 Warner Brothers cartoon “An Itch in Time” and the 1950 Warner Brothers cartoon Canary Row. It appears with English lyrics (entitled “The Loveliest Night of the Year”) in the 1951 film “The Great Caruso.” It remains Rosas’ most popular piece of music.

Give it a listen here (the melody you will recognize begins 41 seconds into the song):

Please understand that this song by itself doesn’t make me laugh. I actually enjoy it. The reason it makes me laugh in the game is that it is usually playing while I am driving and crashing into mailboxes, running over gates, rear ending cars in my way, or watching my car go off a cliff or something.

Imagine that song playing while you are casually ripping up the roads at 307 miles per hour!!! Or even passing someone doing 131 miles per hour….

I’m not sure why this makes me chuckle but it does. Now, take Gustov Holst’s piece from The Planets – Mars, The Bringer of War. This piece fits into those scenarios a bit better. There is a sense of urgency and suspense involved. In some racing events, it is a perfect background piece. Even better, there is one race that you are driving up a mountain to where there is a live volcano – talk about a perfect song!

As much of a stress reliever the game is for me, I love the fact that there is some great classical music in it to accompany the various races and tasks.

So let me change what I said earlier … “Every thing I learned about Classical Music, I learned from band class, Looney Tunes … and a video racing game!”

Turntable Talk – “Shock Rock”

Welcome to another edition of Turntable Talk hosted by Dave over at A Sound Day. Check out his site here:

His topics have ranged from very easy to thought provoking. This time around, I find it truly thought provoking.

Here are the instructions that Dave sent to each of the participants describing what this edition was to be about:

This time around I’m calling it ‘Shock rock’… but wait, it’s not about Marilyn Manson and Megadeath…unless you want it to be.  The subject basically will be pick a record that you love that would surprise people… something that runs afar from your regular favorite listening.  Maybe you like hard rock but love something by the Carpenters. Or are a huge ’60s fan who can’t get enough Bruno Mars. Or maybe it’s a little Tchaikovsky to wind down after a night full of Stones or Springsteen.  Let us know what it is that makes that ‘oddball’ selection so appealing to you.

What Could Possibly “Surprise” You?

I have almost 5000 songs on my iPod. I have a CD collection that fills at least three storage totes, and 4 carrying cases. My external hard drive is loaded up with almost half a terabyte of songs. What ONE song would surprise you? This was my dilemma.

I had three songs immediately jump out at me when I first read Dave’s e-mail. The more I thought on them, I just wasn’t sure which one to pick. As I am writing this, I still question the one that I chose. I will stick with it because it isn’t something I would normally post, and it is more of a personal song. So how in the world did I narrow it down?

Grab my iPod and there is just about every genre of music on there. There is pop music from every decade from the 1930’s to the 2010’s. There is country music – classic and modern. There is a fair amount of R&B, Soul and Motown. I’m not ashamed to admit there are some disco favorites, too. You will also find Big Band and Swing music, Jazz, standards, and plenty of Classical music. There is Christian music and plenty of oldies. There are some favorite Christmas songs on the play list and songs that I played when I was in high school band that I downloaded from YouTube and other sources.

Going through the iPod, there were songs that I thought were “oddball” that I could write about. For example, I have almost every Weird Al Polka Medley on there. I also have music from the Shrek soundtrack, music from The Muppets, and music from the cartoon Phineas and Ferb. There are also plenty of songs that are on there that my kids used to listen to when we would be in the car from some of their favorite kid shows. Oddball, indeed.

All that being said, anyone who knows me or has read my blog before knows that I have a wide range of musical tastes. It would be easy to feature any one of the “oddball” songs mentioned in the above paragraph. Instead, there was one song that stood out for me. It is a song that I never skip when it comes on the iPod (there are only a few of those). It is also a song that I have debated posting on my blog as part of a “music Monday” or some music feature. I kept holding back, probably because it is such a personal song for me. Will you find it “shocking?” I doubt it.

Untitled Hymn – Chris Rice

Readers of my blog know that I am a Christian. While I don’t care for much of the “modern” Christian music, I do like many songs. I cannot recall when I first heard Chris Rice’s “Untitled Hymn,” but it hit me immediately. It was a song that I shared with one of the guys at church, who worked it up and sang it on more than one occasion.

To those who are not of the Christian faith, there will be no connection whatsoever to the song. To me, however, it hits me deep every time I hear it. I am reminded of who I was before and who I am now. It also reminds me that when my life is over – it isn’t over. I am aware that not everyone believes what I do, and that is ok. I’m ok if you just scroll on by this blog.

The song begins with a lone piano and then the vocal. The lyrics of this song speak of the journey of a Christian. From sinner to saved. Singing praise. New life in Christ and life’s struggles and looking to Him in those struggles. Feeling the love and joy that comes in this new life. Finally, the “end” of life on earth for the Christian and the beginning of the afterlife.

The vocal and the piano blend so perfectly. The inflection of the vocal through the dynamics of the song conveys the lyrics exactly how they need to be conveyed. Rice rerecorded the song for “A Collection of Hymns” with a more up-tempo piano and more instrumentation (strings, guitar, etc…) and vocal harmony. Personally, I prefer the original recording over the newer version. I feel it is more powerful.

Here is the original and the lyrics:

Weak and wounded sinner
Lost and left to die
Oh, raise your head for Love is passing by

Come to Jesus
Come to Jesus
Come to Jesus and live

Now your burden’s lifted
And carried far away
And precious blood has washed away the stain

So, sing to Jesus
Sing to Jesus
Sing to Jesus and live

And like a newborn baby
Don’t be afraid to crawl
And remember when you walk sometimes we fall

So, fall on Jesus
Fall on Jesus
Fall on Jesus and live

Sometimes the way is lonely
And steep and filled with pain
So if your sky is dark and pours the rain

Then cry to Jesus
Cry to Jesus
Cry to Jesus and live

Oh and when the love splills over
And music fills the night
And when you can’t contain your joy inside

Then dance for Jesus
Dance for Jesus
Dance for Jesus and live

With your final heartbeat
Kiss the world goodbye
Then go in peace, and laugh on Glory’s side

And fly to Jesus
Fly to Jesus
Fly to Jesus and live

Fly to Jesus
Fly to Jesus
Fly to Jesus and live

In Closing

Does it shock you that I picked this song? I guess it is a bit different than the songs I have posted in the past. Isn’t that what I was supposed to do? At any rate, Dave asked us to explain what makes this song so “appealing.” All I can say is that it appeals to me because I relate to it. Outside of the last verse, I have lived it. It is a song that strikes a chord (pun intended) every time I hear it. Depending on what is going on in my life, I either smile and sing along or cry and sing along. To me, that makes it one powerful song.

Thanks for allowing me to participate, Dave. I look forward to the next edition.