Sunday 17 October 2010

The Food of Love

To say that my musical taste is catholic is a bit of an understatement; eclectic and eccentric come far closer! It ranges from Gregorian chant to Lady Gaga, with several stops at points in between. My favourite band is the Goth witchy Inkubus Sukkubus, though I also like XIII Stoleti, a Czech Goth band. I like madrigals, French cafe music, the songs of Kurt Weil and Bertolt Brecht, the dance music of the Tudor and Stuart period as well as Cuban salsa rhythms!

I like some classical music, though veering more to the early period, Bach rather than Hayden or Beethoven. Generally opera leaves me cold, though I’ve quite enjoyed performances of Alban Berg’s Lulu, at one end of the range, to Mozart’s Magic Flute at the other. From the latter, contrary to the composer’s intention, I acquired a dislike of Masons and Masonic gibberish. My sympathies are all with the Queen of the Night, not with that great bore Sarastro! Of the Romantics it’s the Russian circle of nineteenth century composers known simply as The Five, particularly Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, whose music moves me the most. To this I would add the songs and orchestral work of Gustav Mahler.

Anything with a medieval theme I find deeply appealing. My collection includes Music from the time of Richard III, Music of the Crusades, The Songs of the Troubadours, Christmas Music from Medieval Europe, Music from the Spanish Kingdoms and lots more besides.

My interest here goes back some way, goes back so far as the womb, at least according to mother. When she was trying to relax she would listen to a recording of the songs of Abbess Hildegard von Bingen. She noticed that if I was particularly active at the time I would calm right down. At first she thought it was coincidence but if happened more than once, so it must be true! I have my own copy of that collection, one entitled A Feather on the Breath of God, which helps me to relax now as it did then, transporting, sublime, deeply beautiful.

There are lots of others who share my interest in the music of the Middle Ages, a tradition kept alive, I’m delighted to say, by the Medieval Baebes, an English female ensemble which sings traditional songs and poems in modern arrangements, not just that but singing in the original tongues, anything from Latin to Middle English. Their performances are all backed by medieval as well as modern instruments. Here they are, the Sirens of delight; listen, dream and die. :-)

Come my swete, come my flour
Come my culver, myn owne bour
Come my moder, now with me
For hevyn quene
I make thee

My swete sone withal my love
I come with thee to thin above
Where thou art now let me be
For all my love is
layde on thee


  1. Snap, ditto, whatever. Listening to the above, with glee.

  2. Every style has its age. Every time I listen to old favourites there are surprises because time gives us new ears. New music is harder to find because of the changes in radio since I was young, but I have found some new noises in the past decade. Music has its own immediate power, but it also spins threads of association every time and place you hear it - a spectral web that weaves through your life and binds you into the pattern that surrounds you. You can't escape; but you can sing, and you can dance.

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  4. Music can have a frofound effect on one's state of mind.

  5. Calvin, that's beautifully expressed. :-)

  6. Adam, I should have added The Doors, though I'm not sure if they would fit into your 'prog rock' category, which, so far as I understand this, is a 70s phenomenon. I also like King Crimson, a new discovery for me thanks to you. Father loves jazz but I never warmed to it.

  7. Anthony, it certainly does on mine.

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  12. Interesting. Hadn't heard of them before.
    Have you tried "Le Mystere Des Voix Bulgares"?

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  14. thanks ana for sharing your music taste. they are wonderful! i too have a wide music interest.

    one thing i want to sharing with you is that i just read a book by liu xiaobo. it is almost impossible to find his book but i download this book online and have some quotes from this book:

    i translated them myself so please bear with me on my poor use of words.

  15. Yunn yi, as soon as I've finished here I'll come and look. There is nothing at all wrong with your use of words.