A dullish academic in Sweden listed several results (Happier, Calmer, even Angrier) but not, I’m glad to say, Collapsed With Laughter. I’ve never believed music, as opposed to song lyrics, can make us laugh, whatever po-faced advocates of the Bach double violin concerto and that wearisome Haydn symphony say.
But I do find myself agreeing with the vicar of a London church saying of funeral services: when the first hymn starts, that’s when people feel it’s OK to cry. Which was to some extent reinforced with a clip from the London Olympics when Scottish singer, Emeli Sandé (above), sang Abide With Me unaccompanied. “Good lyrics”, she observed and I bethought myself how tune and words combine:
Swift to its close, ebbs out life’s little dayEarth’s joys grow dim, its glories pass away
The programme was uneven and gave too much time to those with hobbyhorses. But two things stood out.
● Kindergarten children sitting on their mother’s lap (she wearing sound-blocking earphones to prevent the transmission of her own reactions) responding instinctively to a quite complex piece of posh music, kicking their feet and in one case also thrusting the chest forward contrapuntally.
● In a home for the ghosts of people suffering from dementia a keyboardist plays an exceptional version of A Nightingale Sang In Berkeley Square and there are signs on those remote, cut-off faces that it’s getting through.
VR’s sister died last year and asked for a hymn recording without “others joining in”. We applauded her typically pawky choice. But she was gone and we needed catharsis.