In the absence of someone willing to wield the remote control for the TV we watched the Proms on BBC 2. I am never quite sure where I stand on classical music – but seeing as it wasn’t exactly classic classical I knew where I stood on last night’s performance – somewhere out of earshot.
I haven’t been to the Proms, and the closest I have come to a Prom’s night atmosphere was during a five year stay in Cyprus. With there being a number of air force or army bases on Cyprus, I became acquainted with and developed a passion for military bands. Although we had no connection to the forces bases, we used to take the pupils from the boarding school out to the ancient amphitheatre at Curium for the concerts.
The amphitheatre is balanced on a clifftop overlooking the Mediterranean Sea is spectacular. It has been around for thousands of years and leaks ancient history, but for the few hours when the military bands play, it is like creating a very British event. I don’t remember there being any flag flying. It was all very stirring – the bands playing the great and good, a mixture of pure classical music and modern theme tunes. I know I loved it – and I think I loved it simply because of the venue.
I am sure that people have made all sorts of attempts to define what music is. Dictionary.com defines it as “the art or science of combining vocal or instrumental sounds (or both) to produce beauty of form, harmony, and expression of emotion.” Beauty, it would seem, is definitely in the eye of the beholder, or in this case, the ear of the listener. The composer had married together the usual orchestral instruments with other stuff. I wish I could name the other stuff – a thing that make rhythm, that looks like (and probably is) a record player or two, you know…they spin the record back and forward to make interesting scratchy noises. Gosh, do I feel out of touch with youth? I suppose that the music world, like any other, makes progress by experimentation. This experiment, to my fussy ear, did not work.
I like my music to sound like music and come from proper musical instruments played in the proper way.
I was reading Psalm 150 this morning.
Hallelujah! Praise God in his holy house of worship,
praise him under the open skies;
Praise him for his acts of power,
praise him for his magnificent greatness;
Praise with a blast on the trumpet,
praise by strumming soft strings;
Praise him with castanets and dance,
praise him with banjo and flute;
Praise him with cymbals and a big bass drum,
praise him with fiddles and mandolin.
Let every living, breathing creature praise GOD!
Praise Him where? Inside churches AND under an open sky!
Praise Him why? Because He has done mighty things and because He is awesome and great.
Praise Him how? Not always silently or in stillness.
This living, breathing creature will praise God.