The Sing-Along Post–If You Can

Booking Through Thursday

What songs … either specific songs, or songs in general by a specific group or writer … have words that you love? Why? And … do the tunes that go with the fantastic lyrics live up to them?

This is an interesting question for me, because I’m not really drawn to songs because of their lyrics.  What attracts me is the way they sound–the way the melody and the harmonies interact. For example, my favorite genre of music is Celtic.  I am all about the fiddles and bagpipes, but I especially like artists who take traditional melodies and do new things with them, such as Natalie MacMaster, Leahy, and Shooglenifty.  Of course, most of their music is instrumental, but when there are lyrics, they’re usually in some form of Gaelic. I still like them because of the way they sound. This is a video of a song called “Sleepy Maggie” by Canadian fiddler Ashley MacIsaac. The woman singing in Scottish Gaelic is Mary Jane Lamond.

I don’t know Scottish Gaelic, so I have no idea what she’s saying, but it sounds cool, doesn’t it? Half of the music I own with lyrics doesn’t have them in English. I have songs in every variety of Gaelic there is, in addition to Welsh, Swedish, German, Russian, Farsi, Urdu, Latin, and Zulu. Here’s another example, a song called “Allahi Allah,” from a group called Niyaz, which takes 14th-century Sufi poems in Farsi and Urdu and sets them to music using traditional Middle Eastern instruments remixed electronically. I think this one is in Urdu. Needless to say, my Urdu is a little rusty.

So I guess I regard the human voice as another musical instrument, albeit an extremely beautiful one with unmatched versatility.  I guess I also have oddball musical tastes.

One thought on “The Sing-Along Post–If You Can

  1. Olga January 15, 2009 / 2:07 pm

    Your last remark makes me think back to my grade seven music class. Our teacher challenged us to think of the first instrument, and after everyone made a guess (violin, piano, guitar, etc. etc.) he smiled and pointed to his throat. “It’s the voice!” Then he made us get up and practice scales. Ah, how I loved choir!

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