French Horns and Tangos
Thinking about the music that has inspired me
On the second day of thinking about the music that has inspired me, having started with the first gig I ever saw, (Stevie Wonder at the NEC in Birmingham) it naturally drew me back a little further to my childhood.
The more I hear stories from other people, it’s incredible just how powerful their memories are and why they love a particular song; usually introduced to those sounds by their siblings, parents or friends at school. Cars seem to have played a big part in this too; a captive audience on the move…
At primary school I played descant & treble recorders and was into percussion in a big way; I can still remember the rhythm I had to play on a tambor all the way through a song for our Christmas production when I was nine years old….and don’t get me started on the ‘one ting of the triangle’ story!
Then followed a term on the violin at Ross Grammar School which transformed into the mighty French horn for four years – a beast of a brass instrument whose tone I adored. The only reason I stopped playing was down to my orthodontist, who gave me a permanent set of railroad tracks which put the kibosh on playing any kind of wind instrument for a few years.
What I do appreciate now more so than at the time, was that playing in the school orchestra and brass band gave a valuable insight into being part of a wider musical landscape where the voicing of other instruments worked together in service of the music; a proper team effort.
In all honesty, Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings is one of my all-time favourite pieces but I find that it’s just too sad for repeated listening; it almost always makes me cry and have subsequently found myself walking out of shops if I hear it being played on their internal sound system. Compacting on this, the piece is now so strongly associated with tragic world events and war films that I don’t want to revisit it from a place other than that of innocence.
This particular beautiful piece of music I happened to hear on the radio one evening when I was sat on a train on my way back from my commute to University and was immediately transfixed, sought it out and bought the album; Fionnuela Hunt – Tangos and Dances.
It tracks the art form from its origins in the bordellos and back streets of Buenos Aires to the concert platforms of the world. Tangos & Dances charts the history of Tango through the 1900s up to the present day, from its early dance form to the more jazz-inspired music of contemporary times.
There is a certain melancholic beauty, underpinned by a rhythmic movement that both holds and rocks you gently. Within the sadness also lies the inspiration for courage and the choosing of forgiveness in order to move on… Oblivion.
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