Music & Meaning

I missed yesterday’s challenge as I was out all afternoon and evening, so I’m going to catch up now and maybe post it just before today’s challenge is posted!

As a Music student, Music is something I’m extremely passionate about, so yesterday’s topic suits me down to the ground! I play the ‘cello and piano and am much more likely to be listening to classical Music than the UK Top 40. In fact, you’d be lucky if I’d even heard of anything off the Top 40 list! However, there are a few bands and therefore a few songs that I have an attachment to…

Nightswimming – R.E.M

It’s tricky for me to pick just one R.E.M track because I’ve literally grown up surrounded by their music. My parents were big fans and so it was the kind of thing that would be put on (especially by my Dad) at the drop of a hat. Nightswimming is a beautiful song and one that I hold dear, simply because it brings back lots of good memories of my childhood. New Year’s Eve parties, birthdays, chilled out Saturdays, meals with family friends…

The instrumentation is perfect, from the briefest introduction to Michael Stipe’s effortless delivery. Mmm, those strings in the background. It just makes me feel warm and happy inside. I want to sit and sing, send my parents a text to let them know that I’ve just listened to it and it made me think of them.

You, I thought I knew you
You, I cannot judge
You, I thought you knew me
This one laughing quietly
Underneath my breath
Nightswimming

Nocturne Op. 9 No. 2 – Chopin

It was this piece that made me fall in love with Chopin and subsequently want to play the piano. Until I was 15 I’d never played a musical instrument, but as I listened more and more to classical music and discovered composers like Chopin and Satie, I felt compelled to learn. For me, Chopin is just perfect and this Nocturne is so intensely beautiful that I can easily find myself clogged with tears.

Not too long after I’d started learning, then nearing my final year of sixth form college, I went for my lesson. The pupil before me hadn’t shown up and so my teacher contented herself with playing some Chopin before I arrived. Of course, it was Nocturne No. 9 Op. 2 that she was mid-way through, and I couldn’t bring myself to go in until she’d finished. I went in and congratulated her and, always modest, she told me she was rusty and in need of practise. It was a humbling moment for me as a learner, and reinforced the message that even pianists that had played all their lives still needed time to revise and brush up on pieces.

‘Cello Concerto in E Minor – Elgar

Similar to the Chopin, this piece was what drew me to the ‘cello. I had recently acquired a recording of the piece and was listening to it as I walked around a city. I visited a church and while I was walking around, the combination of the music in my ears and the environment made me desperate to learn how to make such a beautiful sound. 4 years on, the sound I make isn’t too bad!

This version is played by Jacqueline du Pré and conducted by Daniel Barenboim, her husband. There are better recordings out there, but I have chosen it for Jackie. No one plays this piece (or any piece, in my view) as well as she does. Her performance seems as natural as breathing. She is spirited (many have argued that she moves too much) and the performance isn’t perfect, but the energy and passion and love she exudes makes it so. It saddens me so greatly that she was robbed so young, but I am warmed by the thought that she still does, and always will, inspire and amaze people. Just watch her, even if only for 5 minutes.

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