A goal I have set myself for this summer is to listen to more in general. Sometimes I know this will mean engaging with music that I don't necessarily like all that much at first but, as with some of my favourite books, it can take time to grow to love music. More so than any other art form because you can't see or touch or read it. You have to listen. Sometimes in a still room with your headphones on and your eyes closed. Sometimes it takes hours of listening to the same thing in order to puzzle it out and fully understand what it is trying to express to you. Music is a language the same as any other and takes a lot of work. It isn't always kind to you - sometimes it holds back what you most want to hear or understand until you have listened long enough to find it. Like an aural version of hide and seek!
Despite having the aim to listen to lots of new pieces, tracks and artists, I also have my favourites of course. Some of the things I am listening to on repeat, that I cannot stop listening to, can be found below. And be sure to let me know in the comments below what tracks you are listening to, puzzling out or looking forward to the release of this month:
1. Alexander Bone
Recently I've been listening to a lot of jazz, as you've probably guessed from the number of updates I've included that begin in some way or other with 'Yesterday I went to a jazz gig'... I've never been the worlds' biggest fan of this genre. Whilst I enjoy studying it, it's not something I can listen to as others can for hours on end. My brain doesn't have that ability to just switch off and let it wash over me. But I think I've found a way in through the form of the Manchester jazz festival.
There was this particular concert featuring BBC Young Jazz musician Alexander Bone, pianist Les Chisnall and bass player Steve Berry at the Bridgewater Hall earlier this week which was pretty incredible. Some of the pieces I hadn't heard before and others were classics I didn't think could be arranged to sound any better (I was wrong). It's exciting to be connecting with music I thought I knew well in a completely unexpected way. I am really looking forward to hearing more of the jazz festival also!
|Manchester Jazz Festival - Photo copyright CLSS 2017|
2. Jackie - The Soundtrack
During Oscar season, I spoke at great length about how happy I was that such depth was being provided to the stories known the world over but from the new perspective of the women who would have been around at the time and perhaps not taken as seriously as their male counterparts. Whilst at the time I was struck by everything amazing in 'Hidden Figures' (which has gone on to become my favourite film) going back now to other releases from the time which were equally striking, has led me to begin re-evaluating. 'Jackie' in particular has really begun to stand out to me - the soundtrack especially.
Before you read that you listened to the introductory piece to the movie and after you have finished reading this section you will hear how the theme developed into its' final form. Mica Levi is an absolutely fantastic film composer in the fact that he has taken similar themes and developed them from being contemporary and angular to something which is much more orchestrated/traditional and hopeful despite the darker undertones in the lower string + brass sections. It fits so well with the pain of the story and with grief, yet at the same time possesses so many beautiful attributes. When I listen to this, I can see so vividly the mountains and the clearness of the sky at sunset. Not many composers could make music which is so complex and empathetic without the film reel playing at the same time.
The compositions of Streliski have taken up much of my summer, largely because at the moment I just want to pause time on lazy golden days with floating dust mites and her music seems to achieve that in a way my own humanity cannot begin to fathom.
My favourites tend to vary, especially as it is so easy to just devour the whole soundtrack in one evening and sometimes even twice. Previously my favourite was New York as, in a very short period of time, she was able to capture the hubbub and rush of the city streets. But with Automne, a much slower piece, she focuses on creating that bright, rosy orange of crisp leaf and red sky that we wait eagerly by the window for all year and then don't want to let go of the minute the pumpkins are ready to be harvested. I could live in this little pocket of sound forever.
On occasion you find that perfect cover long before you hear the original song. I think that this is one which is on a lot of peoples' summer playlist, but for me I much prefer this version by 2-cellos. I like it so much because it really plays with different musical techniques and makes a very rich and full bodied sound. Plus there is always something about fusing an instrument which has such a classical vocal sound with a melody which is so up to date and popular.
I think that this will be useful in further encourgaing young people to take up a musical instrument at the moment as well. To really engage with music, you have to be engaged with what you are playing also. This will definitely be a useful way into classical music (as well as all other genres) playing wise for those who enjoy pop music but don't necessarily want to sing it.
5. If I Only Had A Brain
This will always be my favourite from the Wizard Of Oz, especially at the moment after seeing it all the way through properly for the first time. I'm a big fan of Judy Garland's voice also - it has (again) such a rich and classic sound, just like a cello. I think that's been a big part of my playlist this month: the music of the silver screen during its' golden ages. This one in particular takes me right back to my childhood and just makes me... happy!