Monday, July 09, 2012

Music Monday ~ Sentimentality - Cancer Keyword

One of the keywords appearing in astrology textbook lists under zodiac sign Moon-ruled Cancer, alongside sensitivity is sentimentality. Each person has their own translation of that word. A true translation, from the original medieval Latin root verb sentire = to feel, would be something along the lines of "manifestation of feelings". As is often the case, original meaning has become coloured, over time, by subjective opinions of writers and speakers, which then become generally accepted as "the meaning of the word". Sentimentality is these days thought to be "a bad thing", linked to descriptives such as schmaltzy or cheesy.

A song, or even an instrumental piece, can be described as being full of sentimental, cheesy schmaltz, indicating that its flavour has a synthetic saccharine or maudlin feel.

But how can a manifestation of a feeling be bad?

To my mind manifestation of a feeling can only be bad if it's insincere or hypocritical, used as a form of manipulation.

Music is emotional. Music without feeling emotion would be nothing but a series of sounds. So music has to be manifestation of feelings - sentimental in the purest sense of the word. I guess there's a very fine line between the cheesy and the hearfelt sentiment, or the maudlin and a pouring out of sincere emotion.

Because music is so intimately related to sentiment it can be used manipulatively: think of the violins kicking in whenever the audience's sympathy for a situation in a movie is required, if overdone schmaltz can, indeed, creep in.

Back to Cancer, the zodiac sign and its link to sentimentality - and emotion. All the Water signs, Cancer, Scorpio and Pisces link to emotion; Cancer has dibs on sentimentality.

Music Monday, during the time when Sun travels through Cancer, seems like a good time to spotlight a few songs/pieces of music which, for me, demonstrate the positive side of sentimentality - I do have Cancerian credentials - Cancer is my natal rising sign.

A very simple little song that skipped into my head first when contemplating Cancerian sentimentality was one I had a dickens of a job finding online. I'm a Sentimental One by Phil Green and Noel Purcell from a 1956 British film The March Hare.
I eventually found it in a film clip at Film Fanfare No 9 Part 2. The song sung by Jean Campbell begins at the 3 minute point. ~~~Lyrics:

I'm a sentimental one, I believe in love.
I like stars that shine at night, I like moons above.
I'm a sentimental one, I believe in spring.
April never fails to make me sing.

I'm a sentimental one, dreams are down my street.
I like dusk and candlelight, and my music sweet.
So let me give you warning, before the harm is done.
You're dealing with a sentimental one.
A very, very sentimental one.

Next, a Watery one, befitting Cancer as the cardinal Water sign of the zodiac. I never tire of hearing: Enya's Watermark

Feels Like Home by Randy Newman from his Faust - sung by Bonnie Raitt. The song combines sentimentality (the good kind) and "home" another Cancerian keyword.

The version of Rodrigo's Concierto de Aranjuez from the British movie Brassed Off. There are equally affecting versions out there- that by Miles Davis for example, but this one is especially sentimental for me, being a Yorkshire gal. As one YouTube commenter wrote: "A most beautiful rendition which conjures up all the injustices done to the coal and steel industries in this country (Britain) by Margaret Hilda Thatcher and brings tears to the eye." It does too!

Blood Count

The last composition written by Billy Strayhorn in the months before he died in 1967, after a two year struggle with oesophagus cancer.
"Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn were friends who shared "a bond beyond gender or sexuality, and even deeper than friendship...... Strayhorn recalled the first time he watched the Duke in action: Something inside me changed when I saw Ellington on stage, like I hadn't been living until then. And later Ellington described Strayhorn as my right arm, my left arm, all the eyes in the back of my head, my brainwaves in his head, and his in mine. Ellington was so devastated that he did not get out of bed for weeks, and three months later he called his band into the studio to record this tribute album, "And His Mother Called Him Bill", including this track."

One contributed by my husband: Emily played by Paul Desmond