Jan. 20th, 2017

artsyhonker: a girl with glasses and purple shoulder-length hair (Default)
So I've been mostly looking at musical transformations/reformations and accessibility, at ideas around what is "accessible" in church music and how this has affected a) various movements/styles in the past and b) contemporary sacred choral music.

more on accessibility )

This is still a really interesting area, which I feel is important, and it would make a good topic for me: much of my own music attempts to straddle a line between accessibility (either to singers or listeners) and other factors, and I am definitely interested in exploring that more, both through my composing and in terms of actually writing about it. I might need to cut it down somewhat, perhaps limit it to psalmody for example. And I think I have an external constraint of "choral" rather than "congregational" music, so there's that to consider. But it's sortof a huge topic as it is, so those constraints are good. I'm not sure where I would start with exploring how other contemporary sacred choral composers have engaged with accessibility, and I would run the risk of going on a diatribe about the Western academic canon and its sometime disdain or disregard for what it views as popular or common audiences. That may not be the best path for me to take.

But I'm also interested in the place of lament in sacred choral music. This morning I wrote some (rather religious) tweets about not knowing the answers, feeling frightened, feeling wounded, maimed and broken; I think in our society, we are often told that it is not okay to be weak or hurt or to bear wounds. And I think churches have been complicit in that, sometimes; but that they can also be places where lament is safe, where we can cry and wail and yell. And sometimes the function of choral music is to enable us to do that, before all we hold sacred or know to be holy, when words or silence or hitting a pillow just won't cut it.

Also, I write a lot of "sad" music, or music that contains at least an element of lament. This is partly because I find it therapeutic to do so. In light of the "keep your chin up" surrounding culture, perhaps an exploration of how the church can and should, through music, be a place of grief, lament, remorse even, would be more helpful than yet another person talking about what is and isn't accessible.

The two are not entirely unrelated, because one of the problems with selecting music that allows or even invites lament is that the person selecting it will be told they are making the church "sound too depressing" and that "nobody wants to be sad all the time". In my estimation, such complaints are usually more about the comfort of the complainer than the potential new listener... No, nobody wants to be sad all the time; but avoiding it all together is not healthy. I wrote a sermon along these lines at one point.

In this case, my writing would be around how other contemporary sacred choral composers have engaged with lament, how the Western academic canon composers have engaged with lament, and how my own composing does this.


artsyhonker: a girl with glasses and purple shoulder-length hair (Default)

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