Friday, May 05, 2006

Comfort Music

Reader_Iam brings up the topic of comfort music over at Done With Mirrors. She writes:

And here's something that I ponder, personally: I AM "reader I am," but my refuge is music, not words. Son of a gun. What's that about? Feel free to speculate.
Music is more primal than words: it appeals directly to the senses and doesn't demand thought. When the music is right it just resonates with our more primitive selves. One can be in the moment, with no thought of future or past. That's practically the essence of comfort. But words, no matter how well crafted, require that we engage higher brain functions, and thinking is not comforting, even when it is pleasurable.

She also asks, "What music--and it could be anything----gives you comfort?"

When I was younger, Pink Floyd's One of These Days used to always cheer me up, as did Murder by Numbers by The Police. (One of The Days has exactly one line: "One of these days I'm going to cut you into little pieces.") I've always had a black sense of humor, and these songs always cheered me up. They still hold a certain nostalgic appeal.

More comfort music:
  • J. S. Bach, Brandenburg Concertos (Bach's music creates a belief that God is in His Heaven and all is right with the Universe. Perfect for those of us who love Algebra!)
  • Straus, Blue Danube Waltz (Light and joyful, in 3/4 time. It conjures up memories of the best of 19th century Europe. And spaceships.)
  • Motorhead's album, Sacrifice (Sometimes, violence is the order of the day. You gotta problem with that?!)
  • Butthole Surfers, the first seven songs on Electriclarryland (Sometimes weirdness is the order of the day. Who better than Gibby Haines for such moods?)
  • Elastica's self-titled album Elastica (This might not count, as the lead singer actually gets me quite worked up.)
  • C. Saint-Saens, The Carnival Of The Animals: Aquarium (One of the most calming and beautiful pieces of music ever written, it never fails to put me in a dream-like state.)
  • Jimi Hendrix, Third Stone from the Sun (Brings back many memories of hot sticky Florida summers, all of them good.)

A couple of other works that I used to love have been killed by overuse in commercials in recent years: Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue, and Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. (Yes, even the Ode to Joy can be killed off by commercial abuse.) Fortunately, I'm starting to require my love of the Ninth. And there's still the Fifth Symphony.

I may add more over the weekend as stuff comes back to me.


amba said...

"Comfort" is ambiguous.

The Brandenburg Concerti are exhilarating. Well, the third movements are.

Deep saxphone jazz, the kind that sounds like having a cigarette in bed on a hot night after sex and feeling your pulse beat under the drumskin of your belly. (I don't smoke anymore -- or have sex either, for that matter -- so this is pure nostalgia)

Some '80s music -- Sting, Cyndi Lauper's "Time After Time."

Gregorian chant sung in an echoey church. "The Play of Daniel." Palestrina.

When I thought "comfort music," strangely, the first thing that came to mind was a José Feliciano album from the late '60s, his version of "Light My Fire" and "Nena."


Icepick said...

Thanks Amba, you're reminded me of something!

VW znzuwweg - a term used by chess problem composers....