Soundtracks for our spirits

26 Feb

Pete Seeger used music to create poems of us. His folk songs became 20th-century anthems of justice. They envisioned what good could be done with a hammer, when standing hand-in-hand we could overcome, and how to make polluted water clear.

With his passing, I began considering the playlists of our lives and societies. Songs structure our experiences. We know, for instance, that Darth Vader or something equally sinister will appear when the “Imperial March” begins to beat. Forrest Gump might not have been as gripping without its vintage historical soundtrack. Music moves us and binds us. It troubles as it teaches. The soundtracks of our lives give direction and solace. They help us make meaning of our worlds. Music functions a lot like faith.

So opens an interesting piece at Christian Century by historian Edward J. Blum. He goes on to highlight the soundtracks by Greg Laswell. Laswell, a graduate of Point Loma Nazarene University, has written for shows such as Grey’s Anatomy, Parenthood, Glee, and The Carrie Diaries.

I am of an older generation than Blum, and, while I have been greatly shaped by TV of the 1950s and 1960s, my “soundtracks” are of Dvorak, Rachmaninov, Mahler, Handel, and Bach. As does Blum, though, I bring my “soundtracks” into many of my classes and seek to “woo” students with sounds that move me.

You can find Blum’s reflections on soundtracks here: Soundtracks for our spirits: The power of song in history | The Christian Century.

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2 Responses to “Soundtracks for our spirits”

  1. Michael & Carolyn Yoder February 26, 2014 at 9:54 am #

    Thanks for your post on Pete Seeger, Doug, and reflections on how our music influences us. I think Pete would have very been pleased with the peaceful persistence of the Ukrainian demonstrators who managed to get rid of a corrupt dictator recently without resorting to violence. We can only hope that events in Venezuela will follow a similar path. Hope everything is well back at NWC and with you and Joan. I’m sure you are ready for an end to winter.

    Best regards, Mike

    • Douglas Firth Anderson February 26, 2014 at 11:24 am #

      Apropos winter, Mike, one soundtrack that comes to my mind is that Ralph Vaughn Williams. His Symphony Antarctica has a section of the wind howling, and it sends shivers up my back every time I hear it. The music was also originally a soundtrack for a film …

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