music and journey
Music has many roles along life’s roads. At times it a companion, at other times a historian, sometimes music is a connector. At times music is immediate and of the moment, and at still other times it calls back memories. Whichever of these roles music fills at a given moment. it takes us on a journey.
That’s as true whether you are listening to a song, a dance tune, a chamber music piece, or an orchestra movement. Music tells a story -- may stories, really -- and invites us along.
When musicians are creating albums, they think of that aspect too, in the way they sequence the pieces on an album. Now that it is possible for listeners to pick and choose in purchasing and listening to tracks rather than having whole albums, this experience of following a sequence is one that many people choose to bypass.
That can be a mistake. Hearing how an artist chooses to set one song alongside another, listening to what sort of connection there may be across pieces that open an album and that close it, hearing how songs interact with each other melodically and lyrically and in all the ways musicians choose to present them -- those are things which help make the journey of listening to music one of discovery.
Kathy Mattea, Cathie Ryan, and Nuala Kennedy each take quite different journeys on their new albums. Mattea, who has said that her doorway into country music was through folk music, has been walking back through that door since her album Coal, and that she continues with Calling Me Home, an album that begins with a traveler far from home and ends with Requiem for a Mountain. Cathie Ryan draws on her background and experiences in both Ireland and America to create a wide ranging yet clearly focused journey through the joys and sorrows of life on her recording Through Wind and Rain.
Nuala Kennedy brings in her heritage of Celtic tradition and her work in the contemporary world in a collection that looks to past and present for its inspiration on her recording Noble Stranger. You will be hearing more of each of these recordings in days to come.
following up on that, you may want to see the article Cathie Ryan: Through Wind and Rain for more on that album
It is also possible to lead this sort of journey through music without words. Two recordings you may want to check out to hear fine examples of this are Hanneke Cassel’s For Reasons Unseen and Alison Brown’s
The Company You Keep.