MUSIC NOTES, by Catherine Massey
When reflecting on our service about “Civil Discourse,” I began thinking of music that supports order and clarity in times of chaos. For several weeks I have been revisiting some of my old friends at the piano: Bach, Beethoven, and Schubert. The structures and voices of Bach’s two- and three-part inventions, and his preludes and fugues, are to me like the music ringing “thru all the tumult and the strife.”
Bach, Beethoven, Schubert, Miles Davis: Order out of chaos.
During my childhood and high school years, I learned Bach pieces very easily, especially compared with Chopin and some of the other Romantics, and thought I just had a special rapport with his music. I found out later that my oldest sister, who had graduated from high school the month before I was born and who cared for me, had intentionally played recordings of Bach piano pieces for me to hear as an infant and toddler. It seems to me that this early exposure really helped me hear these compositions and feel comfortable with them as I explored them. I am dusting some of these off to play in worship this year, and they resonate with me at this time. Beethoven and Schubert also give me great comfort, with their passionate approaches and singing melodies.
Ironically, listening to Miles Davis accomplishes some of the same order out of chaos, in my mind. Kind of Blue and other albums use the structure of themes carried by several voices—sax, trumpet, bass, piano, drum set. I can’t remember what musician said he was told to listen to Kind of Blue every day for a year in order to understand jazz, but it has been a revelation to me, as well. I am enjoying pairing Bach with Brubeck, and finding how well they complement each other –for me as a pianist, and as a listener.
Director of Music
UUMN Credentialed Music Leader