Monday, April 01, 2013

Internet Trail: Norma Rae - Songs - Tears - Appoggiatura

"I like the trail that the Internet created. For example, I was watching one of those Douglas Sirk movies, and I noticed that Rock Hudson towered over everyone, and I typed in "How tall was" and I saw "How tall was Jesus," and I'm like, "Sure," and half an hour later you're somewhere you didn't expect to be. It doesn't work that same way in books, does it? Even if you have an encyclopedia, the trail isn't that crazy. I like that aspect of it."
(David Sedaris, interview, June 2009.)
An internet trail, the other day, took an unexpected turn, and found what I hadn't been seeking, as well as my original goal. Initial intent was to read the lyrics of a background song from a film seen on Turner Classic Movie channel the previous evening: Norma Rae- excellent film, by the way. They should have cloned the woman upon whom Norma Rae's character was based and stored the clones - 'til now - the country could use a few enthusiastic, "won't take no for an answer" union organisers!

The song I was seeking, sung by Jennifer Warnes behind the movie credits, is It Goes Like it Goes, written by David Shire and Norman Gimbel. The only version by Jennifer Warnes at YouTube is this one, heard behind 1979 Oscar nominations; this song won Best Original Song that year.

So it goes like it goes
Like the river flows
And time it rolls right on
And maybe what's good gets a little bit better
And maybe what's bad gets gone.

That's something we can all hope for!

Anyway, having found that song I veered off for some reason I can't recall and came upon some blog posts/articles and conversations about a musical device known as "appoggiatura". (See one of them here.) The device is used by composers to elicit emotion in the listener. It is a type of ornamental note which clashes with the melody just enough to create a dissonant sound, and is thought to somehow generate tension within the listener. In other words, appoggiatura is what puts the tear in a tearjerker song. The song mainly being discussed in this case was Adele's Someone Like You. I didn't know the song - it's linked via its title here. Although I usually enjoy Adele's singing, her tearjerker factor, for my taste, is a little weak, in spite of any appoggiatura.

Music is therapeutic, most of us find it calming and comforting when feeling distressed or just plain old miserable. It would be no surprise to those who study ancient history and mythology that sound waves, and that's what music is after all, have a power all their own.Some claim that music has actual healing qualities. Ancient Greek god, Apollo, as well as having connection to light, the sun, truth and prophecy, also had within his portfolio healing, music and poetry - so there's an ancient connection between healing and music. Early tribes used the rhythm of a drumbeat or other instrument to bring about physical, or psychological, response. Sound waves, rhythms, wavelengths - entities only partially understood by our still puny intelligence. Timing and the cyclic rhythm of planetary cycles....there's that too, the "music of the spheres".

Tearjerkers which almost always work on me, appoggiatura or no appoggiatura, are many; the two below were first to pop into my mind. They're not heartbreaky-misery-crying-in-your-beer songs, though. There's something in Mark Knopfler's guitar and Jimmy Nail's voice that can flick the tear switch; maybe both have a naturally inbuilt appoggiatura ?

Big River - written and sung by Jimmy Nail, here accompanied by Mark Knopfler. It has me bawling every time, and I'm not even from Newcastle-on-Tyne, the city that's the subject of the song !

Speaking of Mark Knopfler - in an especially dramatic episode of The West Wing a piece from his Brothers In Arms was used in the background - that brought a tear or two to my eyes.

(Wipes eyes).


Kaleymorris said...

Love me some Mark Knopfler.

Twilight said...

Kaleymorris ~ Me too. :-)
My favourite

of his is: