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"traditional" Christmas Music

Posted by Rache , Dec 24 2011 · 552 views

music christmas ear pain 1950s
It may or may not be a well-known fact that I despise rather a lot of Christmas music. Songs about Frosty the Snowman, Rudolph the Commie-Faced Reindeer, and all the rest never really did much for me. Maybe it's because I've heard the same batch of songs performed by either dead people or dead careers for my entire life, but the whole thing seems tired, unartistic, and, oh my I finally get to use this word, hackneyed.

This is not to say that I hate all Christmas music - not by a long shot. No, it's just that there are three ways to do good Christmas music. The first is an old, truly traditional piece, faithfully played by an orchestra, string quartet, whatever - tunes like the Carol of the Bells, Greensleeves, We Three Kings, all good choices. If you want to put an orchestra in, knock yourself out - better an orchestra than whatever pop "star" thinks we don't look at them often enough lately - but I'm quite happy with instrumental versions, because a good composer can convey any intended feeling through instruments.

Way number two is to take a traditional Christmas song - and I mean real traditional, not baby-boomers-grew-up-with-it-so-that-makes-it-a-tradtion - and interpret it in your own way to make a piece of music that's still good and doesn't sound like exactly the same thing but with a different voice doing it. Look up Jethro Tull's version of Greensleeves if you need an example.

The third, final, and perhaps best, is to just write something new. Now, to do this, you have to be a good composer already, so don't all of you tweeny-boppers and dead-beat crooners go running off to hack something into the corpse of your genre. It's got to be two things. The first is a good song. It has to be something someone could justify listening to any time of the year. The second is, and if you didn't predict this go jump in a lake, a Christmas song. It has to have some undeniable relation to whatever you think Christmas is. Two very different examples have been done by Jethro Tull (Christmas Song and Another Christmas Song), but if you want examples that have not a bloody thing to do with Ian Anderson, try John Lennon's shot at a Christmas song (Happy X-Mas War Is Over).

There's my little rant for the night over and done with. Back to inexplicably pumpkin-flavored egg nog (seriously? pumpkin? who thought of that and are they still alive enough for me to hug them?) and avoiding "Christmas traditions" like Frosty the Red Snowman.

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-Toa Lhikevikk-
Dec 24 2011 07:03 PM
I am Lhikevikk and I approve this message. [goes to dig up blog approval]

EDIT: Here it is.
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Much appreciated. I've stuck the approval image in a little sidebar off to the right.
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Jean Valjean
Apr 20 2012 11:09 PM
:kaukau: Thank you for saving me a rant :P. I myself delve into stuff even older, such as some of those Gregorian chants in Latin and so forth, or "Lo A Rove E'er Blooming", etc. All really good choices, and all a million times more artistic and meaningful than "Winter Wonderland". It's called being cultured.

Your Honor,
Tyrannosaurus Kraggh
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Monophonic Gregorian chants have never really appealed to me, largely because, well, monophonic music in general doesn't appeal to me.
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