Monday, 16 November 2015

Musical Balm or a Musical Binge?

This week I've been on something of a musical binge:  repeated listening to a new CD by emerging talent Ilia Nicoll (with its surrealist cover art by Pepa Chan), attending a concert called Percussion Magic and then attending the love fest that was Duane Andrew's CD launch at The Ship.  This lead to my thinking about the role of music in the face of adversity, which of course was prompted by the terrorist attacks in Paris on Friday.  This is what I posted in Facebook on Saturday morning.

Last night I enjoyed the sonic delights of a concert by Rob Power and his latest crop of Scruncheons and the caramel and chocolate laced pleasure of a soothing friend. It was only after a stroll home that I discovered the horror of the attacks in Paris. Never have we needed love and beauty more.

I found myself thinking beyond the protest songs of the folk music traditions, say those around the Vietnam War.  When I was 5 or 6 years old I was in North Carolina visiting family and I encountered segregation on buses and bathrooms and even chain gangs.  Digging ditches, picking up litter supervised by state trooper with a shot gun.  But they were allowed to sing, to keep rhythm, to bond as a group and to work more efficiently.  Even to my young mind the contrast between these men in chains, their captivity and the power of their singing, their vitality…was apparent.  Slavery began to be real for me.  

I also thought about the uprise in popularity of musicals during the depression years in North America.  The fantasy, the escape to a magical world of tuxedos and dancing feet along infinite staircases was offered up for the price of a ticket.

This was music as medicine and I found myself craving it this week. 

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