Music softens the morals

Love in the Time of Corona #1 | Monday, 23rd March 2020

In an editorial of today’s Guardian (The Guardian view) I read “Music, said Saint Thomas Aquinas, can be defined as “the exaltation of the mind derived from things eternal bursting forth in sound”.” For sure, during the life of the Italian Dominican friar, philosopher and Catholic priest there was less choice than now, about 750 years later. Around 1270 there were songs, instrumental pieces, and liturgical music. Polyphony, in which multiple independent melodic lines are performed simultaneously, was newborn and becoming in vogue. Anno 2020 there is… well about everything. Probably too much.

My Love and I rather have an eclectic musical taste – if you are on Spotify search for the list “Fip for life”: the French musician and composer Yann Tiersen, about every arrangement of England’s greatest composer of the Baroque, Henry Purcell, the Icelandic composer, and multi-instrumentalist Ólafur Arnalds, the English-French actress and singer-songwriter Charlotte Gainsbourg, the divine vocal sound of the French countertenor Philippe Jaroussky, Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater, the raw voice of the Canadian Leonard Cohen, since the late ‘60s an enigmatic singer, songwriter, poet, novelists and Buddhist, and the tricky simplicity of the Dutch singer-songwriter Stef Bos. Let’s label it all slow music.

About the latter two: Bos’ repertoire is solemnly in Dutch (and Afrikaans). Translating a song is quite hard, so I won’t try that. Some of his songs are zen-like, what we truly love, just like quite some of Cohen’s tracks. This morning my Love and I were enjoying a coffee break in the garden – we both work from home now – trying to recall the lyrics of De Kern (hmm… translated: the core). Trying to remember we found Spotify’s assistance. No, I’m not going to translate the words. The main idea is: much less is far more. Listen and watch to Cohen’s Happens to the Heart and you get the same message. I’m quite sure this song will soften the morals, now Britain gets in lockdown. Just try it…

Leonard Cohen – Happens to the Heart (Official Video)

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