Mary Beth invites us to ponder:
The sad news of Michael Jackson's untimely death has me thinking about music and its effects on us - individually, as cultures, as generations. Let's think about the soundtracks of our lives...
1) What sort of music did you listen to as a child - this would likely have been determined or influenced by your parents? Or perhaps your family wasn't musical...was the news the background? the radio? Singing around the piano?
My very earliest memories are of music - the sound of the Morning Concert on Radio 3 waking me to begin the day (my father turned on the radio as he prepared breakfast in bed for my semi-invalid mother) or piano music seeping through the wall that separated my bedroom from the sitting room as he played to unwind at the day's end.
Favourites were Mendelssohn Songs without Words, or Chopin waltzes .... or perhaps a piano arrangement of Grieg's Peer Gynt Suite. When I was about 4 one of my most favourite games of all was to dress up in some long petticoats, relics of my mother's dancing years, and whirl around the sitting room to Anitra's Dance. I sang before I talked, and Daddy was happy to play folksongs again and again for me. Some forebear of my mother's (I never quite worked out who) had been a kind of Scottish equivalent of Cecil Sharpe, collecting folksongs in Highlands and Islands, - and the one I loved singing best was Ho ro, my nut brown maiden. I'd not thought of it for years til this meme jogged my memory. Thank you, Mary Beth...glad to be reminded :-) )
2) Going ahead to teenage years, is there a song that says "high school" (or whatever it might've been called where you lived) to you?
I was a pretty intense classical music geek through my teens, but around about my 18th birthday I loved, loved, loved dancing to the Patti Smith single
"Because the night..." and that song is a backdrop to the complicated set of memories of that final summer at school. In my Oxbridge term I shared a room with a girl who loved Judy Collins, so she too is part of my memories of that era. My own music collection was entirely classical, though: I nearly missed an A level exam as I pondered how to spend a birthday record token...should it be Vaughan Williams' Fantasia on a Theme of Thomas Tallis? or The Lark Ascending? (somehow I ended up both, though I've no idea how that was achieved in those pre-credit-card days...Maybe I used my train fare home?)
3) What is your favorite music for a lift on a down day? (hint: go to www.pandora.com and type in a performer/composer...see what you come up with!)
Pandora will only play nicely with US citizens, so I'll just say Bach, Bach and Bach again...He is pretty much the answer to any question, in my experience, and I've never been so miserable that his music makes no difference.
4) Who is your favorite performer of all time?
Oh...WHAT an impossible question. How do I choose between Jacqueline du Pre and Emma Kirkby? Between Ian Bostridge and Pablo Casals? Artur Rubenstein?
Menuhin in his prime? I just can't. I am grateful to them all, and so very many others.
5) What is your favorite style of music for worship?
I guess I'm Cathedral choral tradition to the bones. For the Eucharist let's have perhaps the Mozart Coronation Mass, or maybe Byrd for Five Voices. At Evensong, Gibbons Short Service is hard to beat...And psalms sung well to Anglican Chant are a short-cut to heaven.
But back in the real world, really pretty much whatever my congregation will sing with conviction works for me.