Eine Kleine Nichtmusik

Witty and pertinent observations on matters of great significance OR Incoherent jottings on total irrelevancies OR Something else altogether OR All of the above

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

A Song For Every Season

Having inspired this post by Phil, I ended up adding various comments. Which led me to thinking that there were questions I'd love to know my readers' answers to:

1) Do you sing to your children?
2) Were you sung to as a child by your parents?
3) In each case, was it only when in bed or on other occasions?
4) What other occasions for general song than the ones mentioned (football matches, coach trips etc.) can you think of?
5) What would be your contenders for "songs most likely to enter the oral tradition"?

6) Any other comments?

I've subsequently thought of college dinners, when we sang scurrilous ditties about neighbouring colleges and grandiloquent ones about our own. And then of course there's church: hymn singing might not be what one thinks of as a folk activity (though there's a discussion to be had there) but it's an opportunity for non-recorded, participative singing. I doubt the trick would work now, but in my youth a group called The Master Singers had a (recorded) hit with a rendition of parts of The Highway Code set to popular psalm chants. Very C of E, very 1960s. There may even now be church choristers who say "Yay! a Highway Code chant!" when one turns up in a service. I certainly found the years falling away as I listened to the Youtube clip: extraordinary how potent church music is.


At 01 October, 2008 16:43, Blogger Persephone said...

Oh bloody hell! Essay questions!

My husband and I sing to our children at bedtime, at the dinner table, when illustrating a point. They loved it when they were little; they usually beg us to stop now. I was sung to as a child by my parents, both at bedtime and during chores (and on at least one unpleasant occasion, as part of the breaking apart of their marriage). Occasions for general song? My friends and I were always bursting into song, usually while walking somewhere (between classes, between houses) and usually to entertain, amuse, or embarrass each other. (You could write a thesis on the use of song to embarrass others.) Songs most likely to enter the oral tradition? The ones that won't go away, that keep getting rediscovered by each generation. I'd say the ditties from the "American Song Book" (Gershwin, Berlin, Porter, etc), songs from the heavily-revived Broadway musicals, and of course, the Beatles.

That Highway Code chant is something else. Of course, on this side of the Atlantic, we need to walk to the left if there's no sidewalk and "look left, look right, then left again".

At 03 October, 2008 17:13, Blogger Rob said...

But although the Beatles, Gershwin etc will always be popular, it's hard to imagine people ever not knowing that those songs are by Gershwin or Lennon/McCartney (or Sondheim, Rodgers/Hammerstein, etc) and chalking them up to Anon. I can just about see it happening for some of the incredibly popular musicals: You'll Never Walk Alone has just about done it, in Britain at least, because of its association with Liverpool Football Club (in turn because of a cover version by Gerry & the Pacemakers back in the Sixties). And Ol' Man River and Summertime. Some of the My Fair Lady numbers are heading that way: and a lot of songs from Disney musicals, not least because the composers' names aren't bandied about as much as Rodger & Hammerstein or Lloyd Webber. Yes, I think you could be onto something with that. But I think it will be a while before people don't think "Beatles" or "Abba" when hearing their songs.

At 04 October, 2008 08:08, Anonymous Phil said...

1) No, although I sing *with* them occasionally, usually on country walks (Me and my Good Companions and Old John Braddelum are favourites). I used to sing to my son when he was very young (nappy changes and bedtimes), but my daughter objected & insisted that she should be the one singing to me, even at that age.
2) Not that I remember, although we did sing together on country walks (which were longer in those days, not least because we didn't have a car).
4) Damn few. I was in a (rather rough) pub once and heard the chorus of Wild Rover burst out from one corner, but that was all they sang.
5) Well, I take a pessimistic view on this; I think the oral tradition is dead, or at least tremendously fragmented (so there's the rugby song tradition, the Scouts tradition... and the folk club tradition).


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