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Monday, May 23, 2011

Music for displeasure

Everyone wants to be happy, and sometimes the best way to be happy is to read, watch, look at, listen to, or experience sad, sobering, horrible, sombre, depressing, and otherwise troublesome art. Unhappy art can make us very happy indeed. Why this should be is probably one of those profound philosophical problems, and I won't even attempt to answer it today. Instead, I'll just talk about some music that has been depressing me lately, and, hopefully, will depress you too. You're welcome.

Music for a while, Alfred Deller
This CD consists of music written by Henry Purcell, long dead, sung by Alfred Deller, who specialised in music written by long dead people. Deller himself died in 1979, which rounded things off nicely. The basic set up of the CD is this - a maudlin Alfred Deller, singing to a lugubrious harpsichord, with a funereal cello creaking away as well. Deller's pace varies from that of a sprightly turtle to a sombre death rattle, with his tone meanwhile swaying from a sorrowful sighing to a more manly melancholic moaning. Deller is never so vulgar as to allow an emotion such as simple cheerfulness into his interpretations; even well-loved lyrics such as
If music be the food of love, play on,
Give me excess of it; that surfeiting,
The appetite may sicken and so die...
are treated with the same gloomy seriousness that a puritan might regard marriage. This is excellent old grouch music, perfect for pepping yourself down after the worst day of your life, or just generally maintaining a mood of desolation and grief, or sometimes just because.


Music composed by: a dead person
Lyrics: various dead people
Performed by: people dead, or soon to be dead
Subjects: death, and other stuff.
Genre: a dead one.

2 comments:

Ivan said...

All Death isn't it! :D

TimT said...

And other cheerful subjects. :)

Email: timhtrain - at - yahoo.com.au

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