Saturday, 20 October 2012

Morricone at midnight

*NB. It may seem confusing that this was posted on Saturday but I say it is Friday; this is because I started it on Friday night, finished on Saturday morning (midnight passed) and am posting this now on Saturday.*

 Hello everyone!

 Today is Friday and I am sitting in Halls writing this and listening to "Gabriel's Oboe," the theme from The Mission. It was composed by Ennio Morricone and is beautiful.

 I heard this for the first time in a long time in a lecture yesterday  in a Spanish culture lecture, about Bartolomé de las Casas and the New World, hence the link to this song; it incorporates European music and reaches out towards indigenous American music.

 Our Spanish culture lecturer, Esther, likes to play a piece of music at the start of every lecture, which is great for me because discovering new music that I like is one of my favourite things. And I am so, so glad that she played this. It sounded so familiar to me, and words started playing in my head to it, and I knew that I'd heard it before, as some kind of song.

 I also assumed the original piece of music was an old classical piece. However, it turns out it was written in 1985/6 for a film, The Mission. I genuinely cannot believe that something so beautiful, so pure, so uncontrived (Blogger is telling me "uncontrived" isn't a word; well, I'm inventing it) could have been written so recently.

 I would have thought all the rawest of melodies; the most original and simple and perfect, had been taken by some musician or another long before 1985. But Gabriel's Oboe is beautiful and magical and comes from some natural, faraway place, from which no other music comes. And I know this is getting sentimental, but that is how much this song moves me.

 As for me putting lyrics to it in my mind... I found out later that Sarah Brightman recorded an operatic version called "Nella Fantasia" (in the Fantsay)... but listening to it I don't think that is the version I somehow know and keep remembering pieces of. There is some other song within this song that is somehow a part of my memories and yet I can't quite reach it. Maybe one day I will.

 I must add that I have listened to the version with English lyrics by Hayley Westenra, and I like it but think someone could still write better lyrics than the English or Italian ones in either of the operatic versions.

 On the other hand, maybe adding lyrics to this song is not the right way forward... it was designed as an orchestral piece and it works best as one. An oboe or a piccolo or a French horn can have a voice and sing. Words would be crude and heavy and spoil the song. It is about feeling the meaning of the song, not having it dictated to you in words. Words tell you how you should interpret a song; without them you can make your own stories, have your own visions of what this music is about and what it represents and how we are supposed to feel listening to it.

 I am speaking as someone who is a lover of popular music and country music, and who doesn't listen to as much orchestral music as maybe she should. This has enlightened me. Thank you, Esther.

 I hope you, my reader, have enjoyed this blog post and my thoughts on Gabriel's Oboe. Please give it a listen if you've never heard it (though the likelihood is that you've heard it without knowing exactly what it was. A song can have a presence in your mind before it has a title.)

 I don't usually implore people to listen to songs I like; I just comment on them and hope that maybe you consider listening to them yourself. But I strongly advise you to listen to this particular piece of music. It has had a profound impact on me, at least.

 Thanks for reading.

 Liz x

Song: Gabriel's Oboe - Ennio Morricone - 1985/6

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