Saturday, 3 July 2010

Hollywood | Mixtape | Mixtape V, Hollywooding: A Musical McGonagall

Music As Reading: Mixtape V, Hollywooding: A Musical McGonagall

I must now conclude my lay
By telling the world fearlessly without the least dismay,
That your central girders would not have given way,
At least many sensible men do say,
Had they been supported on each side with buttresses,
At least many sensible men confesses,
For the stronger we our houses do build,
The less chance we have of being killed.

Musical accompaniment to literature – the soundtracking of poetry and prose – is going to be something that Music As Reading returns to again and again: in it lies, I think, a synthesis that I can already see turning into proper ideas, rather than silly reflections. Poems with Read with… subtitles making musical suggestions, novels coming complete with a tracklisting to – I don’t know, History Boys- or Donnie Darko-style, with their respective 80s pumpers – evoke unambiguous era or mood or context. It’s an attractive thought.

However, rather than launching into the deep-end of serious literary soundtracking, this mixtape takes a rather more gentle hop-skip-anda-jump into a frothy, comic manifestation of the same idea: can a good soundtrack save bad writing, Hollywooding it into something glossy and evocative (for an explanation of the act of Hollywooding, lookee here). Does music change words, or at the very least our ability to judge whether they’re any good or not? Is soundtracking literature therefore a responsible activity? Does the synthesis of literature and music make words less important – as is the case with lyrics, for example? Does this matter? If McGonagall’s writing can be turned, via a concerto, into something seemingly high-brow and ironically profound, then is he really the Bad Poet we all think he is? Perhaps he’s merely a badly read poet…

The Tay Bridge Disaster: McGonagall as Hitchcockian suspense…

String Quartet No.8 in C Minor, Largo - Il Allegro molto – Dmitri Shostakovich
Piano Concerto No. 3 in C, Andante - Allegro – Sergei Prokofiev

The Christmas Goose: McGonagall as arthouse enigma…

Violin Concerto No. 2, Allegro molto – Béla Bartók
Ode to Napoleon – Arnold Schoenberg

An Autumn Reverie: McGonagall as lush panorama

Serenade for Strings in B Minor, Moderato - Tempo di valse – Antonín Leopold Dvo_ák
Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis – Ralph Vaughan Williams

The Nithsdale Widow and her Son: McGonagall as human saga

Cello Concerto in E Minor, Allegro - Moderato - Allegro, ma non troppo - Pocco piu lento - Adagio – Edward Elgar
Pictures at an Exhibition: The Old Castle – Modest Mussorgsky

A Tale of the Sea: McGonagall as they-don’t-make-them-like-that-anymore adventure…

Piano Concerto in D Major, ‘For the left hand’ – Maurice Ravel
Symphony No. 5 in D Minor, Allegro non troppo – Dmitri Shostakovich

The Battle of Bannockburn: McGonagall as final chapter of a three-part epic…

Symphony No. 5 in E Minor, Andante maestoso - Allegro Vivace – Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Symphony No. 9 in E Minor, Allegro con fuoco – Antonín Leopold Dvo_ák

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