Monday, 19 March 2018

Choral music and Roderick Williams OBE (2)

Choral Music in Britain 2

Roderick Williams refers to this podcast as singing for solidarity. Singing with others for joy, to summon communities and to change the world. Roger Scruton tells us that singing with others for a common purpose is a national and european tradition, whether it be in a choir, at a football match or as part of a church service. He goes on to say that our place, from nationhood to where we are personally, is commonly expressed in singing. Identity, where we belong, music and singing all go together.

Singing together can produce something greater than the sum of its parts

  Professor Stephen Clift talks of singing as a basic part of human nature, common to all of our cultures and all historic periods. It is non-elitist and when in a group takes it to a level of harmony with others that we do not achieve in everyday life.
   Oskar Cox Jensen, historian and writer, expanding on the nationhood theme, describes how God Save the King originated as Jacobite support for the pretender, Bonnie Prince Charlie. It disappeared for 70 years and re-emerged as a folksong, popular in the music halls and eventually sung regularly at the end of theatre performances. An adopted National Anthem. It was associated with gang violence in Edinburgh in 1792 when Walter Scott fell out with Irish students and it has a number of different versions, not always complimentary to the monarchy, comparable to football team anthems. Hence music and singing together as expressions of dissent and revolution. Supporters of W. B. Albion agreed that intimidating the opposition was the purpose behind some of their singing.
  Anna Redding, during the Women's Peace Camp days of Greenham Common, recalls how singing together round the campfire helped them through some of their primitive living conditions and, when they really got going, it was like a collective ecstasy.
  The Birmingham Clarion Singers, according to Annie Banham and Jane Scott, began in 1940 when a doctor returned from the Spanish Civil War. Songs of fighting and learning the lessons of the past - the chartists of the 1830s. It is about working class singing - popular protest, a desire for representation.
  Workplaces encourage choirs and singing. Alexandria Winn is proud to be part of a Lawyer firm choir in Birmingham. Different floors and departments, not normally known to each other, come together and make a singing community.

It doesn't always have to be formal.

  In the previous blog we learned about the personal gain of enjoying and being inspired by singing and by the relationships we nurture as a result of the shared interest or passion. Singing is also good for your health and gives you a sense of achievement  - clic on link for Chris Rowbury's post Reasons for SingingToday contains examples of why people come together and sing - protest, sense of community, loyalty to place and football team or simply that sense of sharing in something which is much greater than the sum of its parts.
  It's not for everyone says Stephen Clift - we cannot generalise. Nearly everyone then.

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