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Author Topic: Musings on the meaning of music  (Read 1617 times)

Waldhexe

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Musings on the meaning of music
« on: December 26, 2011, 10:49:39 am »
So I'm learning guitar and have borrowed beginner manuals from my local library and I've found one for children which technically works well for me...except that they print most songs without text and without any reference to the author or the history of it, f. ex. 'Donna donna' - they give just the title and the notes, no song text, no reference about its origins whatsoever. A child who uses this book wouldn't be able to tell if it's an old nursery song from Spain or a rock ballad composed by someone who tried to become famous...

I must say I'm really bothered by that. I mean someone wrote this with a text, meaning something. Someone put his/her heart into this. Someone managed to express the sufferings of his/her people in this song. It has an origin and a historical backround.

I know it's probably not my place to complain, but this really bothers me. Don't children need to know that music has some meaning, expresses emotions and life stories of real people, might even be political - and isn't just a pretty arrangement of notes? I mean, just because a folk song often comes without the name of an author - dosn't it deserve some reference to its origin?

RandallS

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Re: Musings on the meaning of music
« Reply #1 on: December 26, 2011, 05:45:56 pm »
Quote from: Waldhexe;36434
I know it's probably not my place to complain, but this really bothers me. Don't children need to know that music has some meaning, expresses emotions and life stories of real people, might even be political - and isn't just a pretty arrangement of notes? I mean, just because a folk song often comes without the name of an author - dosn't it deserve some reference to its origin?

Good point. I remember a the songbooks my sister and I used for organ lessons were like that. The song name and the notes to play, nothing else.
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Waldhexe

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Re: Musings on the meaning of music
« Reply #2 on: December 27, 2011, 04:20:26 pm »
Quote from: RandallS;36477
Good point. I remember a the songbooks my sister and I used for organ lessons were like that. The song name and the notes to play, nothing else.

 
I'm glad you understand me. :) I realize I shouldn't expect too much of a book for children and I can find the songtexts of those folk songs all over the internet, but it's still a pity they skipped all the interesting information. I'll look for more books...

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Re: Musings on the meaning of music
« Reply #3 on: January 02, 2012, 08:47:49 pm »
Quote from: Waldhexe;36434
I know it's probably not my place to complain, but this really bothers me. Don't children need to know that music has some meaning, expresses emotions and life stories of real people, might even be political - and isn't just a pretty arrangement of notes? I mean, just because a folk song often comes without the name of an author - dosn't it deserve some reference to its origin?

 
Yes, but.

Yes, because I completely agree that there should be some mention of its provenance - if only "traditional".

But, because melodies and words don't always come in neat sets.  More modern ones do, because copyright law means people can't (legally) use "folk process" with modern works without explicit permission (or maybe if it's under an appropriate Creative Commons license, but the last I heard that hadn't been established as legally binding yet).  It used to be pretty standard to take an old tune and write words to sing to it (which is why you'll get several quite different sets of lyrics sung to the same tune), or composing a tune to go with preexisting words.

F'ex, the tune known as "Air from County Derry"/"Londonderry Air" is only the song "Danny Boy" when it has that set of lyrics with it (though many people, if they hear the tune as an instrumental, will identify it as "Danny Boy", because that set of words is particularly well-known).  But Wikipedia, as you can see, lists over a dozen other lyrical settings, and it's very likely an incomplete list.

For a website that gives not only lyrics, but frequently has information on the provenance of folk songs, the first place I'd try is The Mudcat Cafe.

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Etheric1

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Re: Musings on the meaning of music
« Reply #4 on: January 05, 2012, 01:04:16 am »
Quote from: Waldhexe;36434

I know it's probably not my place to complain, but this really bothers me. Don't children need to know that music has some meaning, expresses emotions and life stories of real people, might even be political - and isn't just a pretty arrangement of notes? I mean, just because a folk song often comes without the name of an author - dosn't it deserve some reference to its origin?

 
Why not?  You appreciate it and listen to music so much so you want to make it.  You definitely get an opinion on the matter. ;)  

Personally, I wish someone told me how music should express emotion, life stories, and whatever else an artist wishes to convey - I might have gotten into it and discovered more when I was younger.  It wasn't really until college that I really found music that spoke to my soul.
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Waldhexe

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Re: Musings on the meaning of music
« Reply #5 on: January 06, 2012, 06:14:24 am »
Quote from: SunflowerP;37297
For a website that gives not only lyrics, but frequently has information on the provenance of folk songs, the first place I'd try is The Mudcat Cafe.

Thanks, that's an interesting site!

Waldhexe

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Re: Musings on the meaning of music
« Reply #6 on: January 06, 2012, 06:31:07 am »
Quote from: Etheric1;37612
Personally, I wish someone told me how music should express emotion, life stories, and whatever else an artist wishes to convey - I might have gotten into it and discovered more when I was younger.  It wasn't really until college that I really found music that spoke to my soul.

The context always helped me to get interested in a piece because for me it gives it some meaning and makes it more than just a finger exercise.

It also often provides me with clues about the style. I'm not very good in getting the rhythm right so it also really helps me to get these clues before I play it and it also helps me to get familiar with different characteristics, f.ex. labeling "Donna, Donna" as Yiddish folk song whould have helped me to access my previous (listening) experiences with Yiddish folk songs and klezmer before stumbling through it and wondering if I was hitting the right notes because the style of melody and rhythm sounded somewhat different than from the songs before. - I realized later that I've heard the song a couple of years ago, but it took me some time.

Texts often help me to remember a song when I've heard it before and keep on track when I'm playing it. The text gives also clues about the phrasing (which I need when I'm playing recorder).
« Last Edit: January 06, 2012, 06:32:29 am by Waldhexe »

ccardinot

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Re: Musings on the meaning of music
« Reply #7 on: February 17, 2012, 04:13:55 pm »
Quote from: Waldhexe;37798
The context always helped me to get interested in a piece because for me it gives it some meaning and makes it more than just a finger exercise.

It also often provides me with clues about the style. I'm not very good in getting the rhythm right so it also really helps me to get these clues before I play it and it also helps me to get familiar with different characteristics, f.ex. labeling "Donna, Donna" as Yiddish folk song whould have helped me to access my previous (listening) experiences with Yiddish folk songs and klezmer before stumbling through it and wondering if I was hitting the right notes because the style of melody and rhythm sounded somewhat different than from the songs before. - I realized later that I've heard the song a couple of years ago, but it took me some time.

Texts often help me to remember a song when I've heard it before and keep on track when I'm playing it. The text gives also clues about the phrasing (which I need when I'm playing recorder).

 
Well, I've been studying the harmonica, and the simplest book on the subject also doesn't shows it's origin and lore, but, they're songs everybody knows by heart, like, happy birthday to you. Even though it can be annoying, maybe you should pay no mind to it a do some research on your own, as you might get better results, and, most times, when there's some reference to origin and lore of a song, it usually is inaccurate.

Cheers!

Waldhexe

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Re: Musings on the meaning of music
« Reply #8 on: February 19, 2012, 09:39:44 am »
Quote from: ccardinot;43191

I've bought a book with folk songs for guitar by Peter Bursch and it's terrific. It has a few lines on every song about its history, different versions and recordings.
« Last Edit: February 19, 2012, 09:40:07 am by Waldhexe »

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