Friday, November 30, 2007

Here Comes the Musicologist

Okay people. Nobody helped me out with my Sopranos question. But now I have a real live musicological question that I desperately need an answer to. I suspect this will be a more popular question, because it strikes at the psychological core of why we are all musicologists in the first place: choosing music and forcing people to listen to it.

So: if one were, hypothetically speaking, getting married in four short weeks, for one's ceremony one would need a processional. If, hypothetically, the groom was a musicologist, there would be certain expectations placed on this music. One could not, for instance, use certain tunes by Wagner or Mendelssohn, or anything having to do with Handel. What music should this hypothetical disorganized groom/musicologist choose?

I should note this has already been discussed in the small but brilliant musicological blogosphere, and I probably should have been paying more attention at the time. But I have an important caveat to the above question that nixed all the answers that crowd gave: I work on twentieth-century American music. I'm not expecting to force the crowd to listen to dissertation music, because although the opening to Sonatas and Interludes has a certain arresting, fanfare-like quality, I think the organist at the church might object to the concept of a "prepared organ." However, I see no reason why there should not be a piece of twentieth- or twenty-first century organ music out there that might do the job. No offense to the canon, but that's not my bag. Spiky dissonance, sordid subject matter, crunchy textures, that's fine, but you can leave your German Idealism at home. Ideally should be playable on an organ.

Solve my problem!

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Do you live in Los Angeles? Are you free tonight? My friend and colleague Elizabeth Morgan is doing an important recital tonight, featuring works from Jane Austen's musical notebooks being played on an 1813 Broadwood. It's at 8:00 pm in the rotunda of the UCLA library, and is free and awesome. All you need to know is that it ends with an earth-shattering performance of Kotzwara's Battle of Prague, which can only be truly appreciated live. If you miss the concert, her Prague will hopefully be put up on YouTube shortly.

17 comments:

Phil Ford said...

Damn, congratulations to the dude who's getting married! Whoever he is!

On the organ? There are a couple of preludes of Bach's Orgelbuchlein I'm partial to, but I donno, maybe to liturgical? Wedding music is tough. The one and only organ gig I ever played, the wedding processional was (no kidding) the opening of Strauss's "Also Sprach Zarathustra" (aka theme from 2001), because the bride and groom were big sci-fi fans.

goddan said...

One might also hypothetically point out that the hypothetical bride is a veterinarian, which might suggest further hypotheses about appropriate music...

Doug Gentry said...

"Pretty Woman"?

Anonymous said...

The hypothetical groom's hypothetical mother reminds the musicologist that he needs a recessional, too!

Ryan (of Columbia) said...

Maybe process to Schumann's Gesange der Fruhe, the first one? It's op. 133 and gorgeous. Kind of choralesque but with these beautiful kind of explotions - perfect for the entrance of the bride around 1 min 24 sec . . .

I'd like the idea of you recessing to Hank Williams' "Baby We're Really in Love" but that's just me.

PMG said...

1. Excellent idea on the Orgelbuchlein! It might be old and European, but I am easily won over by prettiness. This might be a winner.

2. Don't worry, we've got the veterinary angle covered with a certain well-known hymn.

3. Mary appreciated this one very much.

4. We've got the recessional covered--it's an unusual choice, but a very festive one. It'll be a bit of a surprise.

5. I loooove Hank Williams.

Keep 'em coming!

cpo said...

I can't remember what we had, because our organist died really suddenly 2 weeks before and apparently that memory has erased all memories of my wedding music! It had trumpet and organ, it was very traditional, it was good. (Our location gave you a list of 10 works, although if you didn't use the organ you could do what you wanted, I think.)

Anyway, I dealt with the pressure by choosing something pretty traditional and just convincing myself I didn't care!

Best Wishes.

Anonymous said...

Fanfare for the Common Man? Fanfare for the Common Person?

Peter (the other) said...

Psht! Clearly, We've Only Just Begun, by The Carpenters, you know.... oh, you're serious! 8*0 Well congrats in any case.

Sammee said...

I solved the wedding processional dilemma by commissioning a composer friend of mine to write it for me. :) For the rest of the music, well, non-traditional choices just came to me (definitely still canonic, but non-traditional in the wedding music sense of convention): Brahms Intermezzo in A Major, Poulenc Flute Sonata, an arrangement of Amazing Grace as a hommage to my father, who sang it to me as a child very frequently. Except for the postlude, because I just had to have Widor's Symphony No. 5 for Organ.

Joel A. Nichols said...

(maybe something with balloons? you know, played on squeaky, scratchy latexy balloons?)

PMG said...

I am totally comissioning Judy Dunaway to write my processional.

Robert F. Jones said...

Ligeti's "Volumina" (begins with turning the organ on while a cluster of the full range of the organ is sustained with all stops out - sounds like a rocket taking off). I wouldn't suggest Dylan's "Wedding Song."

Robert F. Jones said...

... and if you've got a lot of time there's always John Cage's "ASLAP."

PMG said...

Believe me, I thought about ASLAP! I think the organist charges by the hour though.

Re: Sammee's commission. I haven't been to many weddings, but one of the few I have been to was a friend who was marrying a film music composer. He essentially through-composed a score for the wedding, including an angel choir for when the bride entered.

ms said...

I don't know how it would work on organ, but I had a youth orchestra conductor who told us about walking down the aisle to selections from Stravinsky's Pulcinella. I always thought that one was nice=)

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