Saturday, May 3, 2014

Trifle #1 -- Don't mess with me, or Rachmaninoff

I sometimes play classical music for my clients.  Reasons vary, but they are all based in my narcissistic-generous assumption that what moves me should move the world.
One tune, Gottschalk’s Berceuse,* brought tears to the eyes of a sixteen-year-old jock.  The same piece made a young woman, a science graduate student, “want to run out of the room.”  I think it must have triggered childhood feelings – maybe those never had or too quickly lost – in both of them.
Often it’s just been to tweak, or irk, some dormant brain cells and moods in teens, by means of Grieg favorites (Morning Mood,** In the Hall of the Mountain King) and lesser knowns (Cow Call and others from Op. 66***).  Couperin’s The Mysterious Barricades**** I use as a “quiz” during light moments: It has a New Age-y romantic moodiness, especially on the piano, and most people don’t think of the early 1700’s.  Another quiz: Chopin’s Funeral March as played by the funereal Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli.*****
Some sheltered youngsters, depressively stranded in modern life, need to know that music is notated and accessible from the ninth century (Gregorian chant) on.  I might play a grunge or goth kid the prissified madrigal, Now is the Month of Maying****** (1595), a surreal experience believe me, then reveal its bawdy meaning.  Debussy’s Rêverie******* will be a sleep or de-stress aid, as will Fauré’s fin de siècle teal-blue Berceuse from the Dolly Suite.********  And Debussy’s Girl with the Flaxen Hair********* – a view of a girl these boys may have never felt.
But it’s not all peaches and cream.  I’ve shared the perfectly sad and beautiful Loch Lomond********** with a fellow old man because nostalgia was the name of the moment and I had the perverse prophecy that a fragment of the music had existed in his childhood as it had in mine.  How it ever came to be I don’t know, but we boys would troop around singing, “You’ll take the high road and I’ll take the low road!” as if we knew what it meant.  My client, who had no idea the song was ancient or anything but a camp ditty or boys’ nonsense, remembered it and felt its poignancy, too.
And then there are times when liberation psychotherapy needs to be jarred in place by powerful music that excoriates the mind.  The skin of sleep is ripped away by the hyper-masculine joy of Rachmaninoff’s Prelude Op. 23 No. 2, or by the indomitable angry righteousness, helter-skelter purity of Moment Musicale, Op. 16 No. 4.***********  I want my client to feel the power – their power, anger, serenity, beautiful rightness revealed and to be changed.  The ocean –, the universe --, the self –
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N.B. – Youtube video/audios are often transitory, but any of these pieces can be found in at least one version. 

* Gottschalk’s Berceuse (cradle song): 

** Morning Mood, from Peer Gynt,
*** Grieg, “Cow Call” and others from Op. 66,
**** François Couperin, The Mysterious Barricades,
***** Chopin, from Sonata Op. 35,
******* Claude Debussy, Rêverie,
******** Fauré, from Dolly,

********* Debussy, La fille au cheveux de lin, 

********** Vaughan Williams’ arrangement, Loch Lomond,
*********** Rachmaninoff, Prelude Op. 23 No. 2, the great Gilels at the piano,; Op. 16 No. 4, Lugansky,


  1. I enjoy writing comments on youtube and I found this blog through a comment you wrote on Tharaud's treatment of Jean-Philippe Rameau: Nouvelles Suites.

    I appreciate your writing and I hope to read more of it

    1. I appreciate your comment and hope. I should mention that my blog is rarely about music, and that my music commentary is often (as Youtube goes) humble, scandalous and ignorant. Good for the soul!


Comments are welcome, but I'd suggest you first read "Feeling-centered therapy" and "Ocean and boat" for a basic introduction to my kind of theory and therapy.