Christmas Carols in Australia
“It’s Christmas, it’s Christmas in heaven”
Just had to find this satirical Monty Python video on youtube to help me in the process of preparing for Xmas, the holy-day, the birth of the Christ in us, on traditionally the darkest day of the year (in the northern hemisphere at least).
Here, its southern hemisphere, Perth, Western Australia. The tinsel’s out, the drinking is on, the stress is up. It’s Christmas in heaven. OMG.
Christmas carols have been resounding in my classrooms and on my Sibelius laptop since October. I do actually appreciate that children get so much out of them…(I don’t)… memories of early childhood, fond family times, presents, all conjured up by the magic of music.
In 3 days time, me and my boys will reluctantly pick up our stringed instruments and play for “Oma”, the German grandmother who slaves and stresses about Christmas- especially on keeping the traditions. We’ll play “Silent Night” in the bright sunshine and “O Come all Ye Faithful” pretending we’re shepherds on our way to Bethlehem 2000 years ago.
The carols no longer speak to me. Their harmonies, mythical words, heavily Eurocentric romantic era sounds perpetrate the romance of Christmas. The snow-in-the-can make-believe in the middle of blatantly hot and bright Australia. If we put enough effort into believing the magic, it will happen, this is true. But romantic nostalgia, old-fashioned sentiment- doesn’t seem to work much for me any more. Am I old and cynical? Perhaps. But I’m optimistic that here is a chance to evolve.
I’m on the quest for a new sound. Not just a totally different take on Christmas music. A sound from the future, which I know I’ll recognize incrementally when I hear it speaking and whispering to me. I’ve heard whispers already.
I believe a lot of our society’s dogged out-dated beliefs are being perpetrated by that which stirs us the most- music.
We hang on to music from the past. We keep playing the same record. Even the songs written today- with all the latest trendy sounds- are just rehashing the same theme. It’s very deep seated. And only a few can step outside the paradigm and imagine anything different.
A lot of music makes me sick. My soul and spirit crave for healthy music. I’ll know it when I hear it. At this time of year- a time of de-stressing, soul-searching, rebirthing our higher selves- the Christ in us, wouldn’t healing music be just the thing?
In the classroom, when music is live and social, un-plugged, uplifting, it doesn’t take much for healing to happen.
But here’s my take on where western music has got us: we have gotten into the downward-spiralling vicious circle (vicious spiral?). We crave music for healing but it so often doesn’t do it. We’re left hollow by most music today. So we seek solace… in music of course: lower, louder, more escapist, nostalgic.
Like so many things, it’s been ruined by the western mindset, the craving intellect, a loss of connection.
In 10 days I’ll be in Bali- my spiritual home. A place of health- in so many ways the west can’t comprehend. A place of music. Music from the ancient past- some of the oldest surviving music. Music from the present. And everything in-between. Perhaps a place where future music will arise.
In order to understand the meaning and truth of music, one needs to step outside of the underlying self-perpetuating paradigm. Bali offers this.
There is a genre, a tonal system I am interested in. I want to learn the “gender” (a Balinese metallaphone). It uses the slendro system which predates our western tuning system by thousands of years. Some Anthroposophists even suggest it was the music system in use by the Atlanteans.
I am fascinated by the power of this music to take me to a place of healing. It works on a very different level, one that challenges all western musical concepts. And that is just the headspace I’m in right now. Challenging western concepts –for my own health and sanity, and hopefully for others’ health and sanity too.