Saturday, March 19, 2011

What is music really about?

A blog about Sweden will be up in the next couple of days (for some reason, my camera doesn't want to transfer some of the pictures to my computer)... for the moment, I'm turning to a different topic.

A few days ago, I was asked to sing for a kindergarten party (parents) with a '50's theme. Some of the other teachers will be playing as a small jazz ensemble and one of them asked me if I would sing "Fever" - as I responded "sure" he continued with something to the effect of "I don't know if you would want to because it's kind of risque - not exactly Adoramus Te."

Le grand sigh.

Really? Is that honestly the way I come across? That I wouldn't ever sing (or think or do or say) anything not appropriate for church? That my entire personality is "good little Catholic girl" (aka a "Catholic Duggar")? Because, if it is... then people are pretty mistaken. If that was the case, it would have been really difficult for me to have gotten a degree in voice performance. With the exception of sacred pieces, I would challenge anyone to find me a piece of classical vocal music which isn't about love in some form. And some of it gets pretty provocative. That's just what music is about. Ever seen/listened to an opera? Same thing. Love, in it's many forms, has been a, if not the, common theme of music for the entire history of Western classical music.

For the sake of the argument (what I would sing) the following (rough) translations/texts only include things I have actually studied and performed. This means I'm not counting the story of when a close friend had to be told by a coach what the theme was of a French art song titled "C'est l'extase" (Is Ecstasy) ... gee, sounds like a song about a baby playing with a puppy dog, right?

"Offrande" by Hahn (French art song)
On your young breast let me rest my head
Still ringing with your last kisses,
Let it be stilled after the sweet tempest
And let me sleep a little, while you rest.

"Deh vieni, non tardar" from the Marriage of Figaro by Mozart
Susanna is singing to herself thinking of her husband, knowing that he is listening, and knowing he believes she is singing about the Count.
The moment which I will enjoy
without anxiety, in the arms of
my idol, has finally arrived.
Timid feelings, leave my breast;
don't come to disturb
my pleasure!

"Mesicku na nebi hlubokem" from Rusalka by Dvorak
Rusalka, a water nymph, is talking to the moon about her lover, a human.
Give him your beams afar,
tell him, that I wait for him here!
Oh, if his human heart dreams of me,
let this vision awaken!

"Dearest Mama" from The Ballad of Baby Doe by Moore
Baby is writing a letter to her mother telling her about the married man she has fallen in love with.
Dearest Mama,
now I've found him
And he loves me truly too.
Ev'ry moment we're together
We both know it had to be.
But, dear mama, he's not free to marry
It is wrong for us to feel the way we do.
I know he needs me
And that I love him
But I have to give him up
And we must part forever.

Vergebliches Standchen by Brahms (Lied)
My door is locked,
and I won't let you in:
My mother has advised me well!
If you came
It would all be over for me!

Here's a bit of "Fever"
"Never know how much I love you
Never know how much I care
When you put your arms around me
I get a fever that's so hard to bear
You give me fever
When you kiss me
Fever when you hold me tight
In the morning
Fever all through the night"

Would I sing it? Why not? Personally, I'd rather sing "I'm beginning to see the light" because I have sung it before ... but considering these are some of the lyrics, while I'm fine singing it, maybe it's too much for them :-D
"Then you came and caused a spark
That's a four-alarm fire now
I never made love by lantern-shine
I never saw rainbows in my wine
But now that your lips are burning mine
I'm beginning to see the light"

Ok, rant over :-) ... Sweden will come soon, I promise!


  1. the duggars are totally catholic. they just don't know it yet! ;)

    ps - nothing wrong with being a good catholic girl! then again i'm biased ;)

  2. BAHAHAH... somehow I don't think they would be very happy to hear you say that.

    Of course there's nothing wrong with being a good Catholic girl.. but too many people think that always equals boring, prudish, stick-in-the-mud... that's what I don't want to be seen as.

  3. Plus, most practicing Catholics are more likely to say "we'll welcome as many children as God has for us" as opposed to "MUST HAVE MORE CHILDREN.... NOW... AS MANY AS POSSIBLE... OH NO! THE BABY IS A YEAR OLD AND I'M NOT PREGNANT AGAIN... SOMETHING MUST BE TERRIBLY WRONG!!!!"

    At least that's not how I am planning to act/think if/when I get married. (No to the second, yes to the first)

  4. some of the craziest parties i've been at have been with a bunch of good catholic kids. go figure. granted there was alcohol but serious vocation talks while drunk with a future nun and ex-seminarian are hilarious.