Thoughts from the South - Music

Thoughts from the South
Thought No.6

A few Christmasses ago I received a kind present of Opera Classics. On the face of it, it was a nice little collection of well-known opera hits mainly from the later nineteenth century. The name of the CD pack was 'Pure Opera Moods'. Great, I hear you say. Four hours of unadulterated opera hits!

And technically, this is what it was. Sure a lot of them were more 'well-known' hits, but believe it or not, something does not need to be obscure to be artistic and worth being paid attention to.

However, what did put me off a little was not the music itself, but the way it was packaged. I do not mean I had an issue with the box, or that there was anything wrong with the discs. Rather, it was the words displayed on the front. "3 CD'S OF OPERATIC MOODS TO RELAX THE MIND & BODY".

This was really very depressing, as it seemed to suggest that the only reason to listen to this music was to relax, rather than to enjoy it in whatever way you saw fit. Why call it 'Opera Moods' if the only mood you are encouraging your listener to feel is relaxation? You should just call it 'Opera Mood' or 'Relaxing Opera Hits'.

But not only had they told me what to think, they pretty much kicked an entire genre in the teeth. Music had been stripped of its greatness and, in many cases, mystery, simply so it could be lumped together lazily under some sort of all encompassing theme. A pitiful state of affairs! If Wagner had known that 160 years later people would be smiling and closing their eyes in the bath tub to the Tannhauser Overture, would he have bothered writing it at all?

Music is a language. And for many of us it expresses things which written or spoken language can not. If I was to write a letter or a book or a blog post, would I really want to omit, say, all words beginning with an 'm' or a 't'? Or not to use words above a certain length? Or to begin all my sentences with nouns? Unless I was playing some sort of linguistic game, the answer is no. But this effectively what the 'Opera Moods' is doing the the music it seeks to represent. And even if it only does this in a few words, a few words is often enough.


Post a Comment