Write Again . . . Music can be our blessing

Published 9:34 pm Monday, April 14, 2014

 Our land — “this land is your land, this land is my land” — is rich in its many and diverse music forms and traditions. That’s an understatement if ever there was one.

And, safe to say, one generation usually doesn’t think the pop music of the generation that follows theirs is nearly as good. With some exceptions, of course.

Now, I am very fortunate in that I like many different genres of music from across the generations.  This gives me a wider range of enjoyment, for sure.

Some folks are a bit more discriminating than I.  As in the fellow who said he liked “both kinds of music. Country and western.” Ah, well.

Here in Beaufort County we are blessed with a lot of talented folks, both youth and adults, who make music. Granted, the preponderance of the musical offerings seem to be country, blue grass, and gospel. But not all.

Then, we have numerous festivals, events, offering the citizenry opportunities to hear, see and enjoy.

One, but definitely not the only, form of music I enjoy is a capella. Especially — of course — barbershop harmony.

Unless one has been exposed to barbershop at the highest levels, the old stereotype of striped shirts, straw hats and four old guys singing “Sweet Adeline” probably still persists. This is a real misrepresentation of the genre.

The key to the whole barbershop “thing” is in the chords. The harmony. And this is whether it’s a quartet or a 100-man chorus. Plus, the choreography of the choruses at the upper levels is, well, you really do have to see and hear it to believe it.

I have tried to condition myself to not be critical or judgmental about popular music. It’s better to say I don’t really understand it than say I don’t like it. Or appreciate it. Some of it, however, is, well . . .  you know.

Liking only one kind of music would be akin to liking only one vegetable, or one ice cream flavor.  So limiting.

I read somewhere that the only two truly original American music forms are jazz and barbershop.  There are now numerous styles that come under the jazz umbrella. And barbershop harmony is probably evolved from, in part, the beautiful harmonies that originated in Africa. In fact, unbeknownst to most, the first barbershop quartets were black men in New York City blending their voices in harmony around the turn of the 20th century. Then a bit later there were the Mills Brothers and the Ink Spots, with instrumentation added.

Those of us for whom music has been a wonderful part of our lives — whether as practicing musicians or simply listeners — have been truly blessed.

A world without music would be a less enriching place.

APROPOS – “And the night shall be filled with music, / And the cares that infest the day, /  Shall fold their tents, like the Arabs, / And as silently steal away.”

– Longfellow  (1844)