Random Borrowing #6: Rites

Today, the die was cast and yielded a thin book of 112 pages entitled: “Civil Rites and Ceremonies” by Hilary Hudson.

The randomly selected page was 83. On this page was a section called “Life Narratives” with the first example being “For a Young Man Killed Suddenly”. This book seems to have a bunch of example speeches for various ceremonies like weddings, funerals, and the dedication of memorials. This particular example is a eulogy for a young man who has been killed. The speech is pretty old fashioned and quite boring. There are a couple of excellent quotes: “Paul was a vegetarian, but he loved cheese.” and “Garfield cartoons spoke for him.” stood out in their own special way.

The book itself is a collection of stereotypical speeches for all occasions. It aspires to be a collection of tropes, but instead delivers an interminable sequence of cliches.

The TV Tropes website actually has a list of musical tropes. However, the musical equivalent of this book would be an actual cheesy recording using fake MIDI instruments, where each track of a CD is trying to be a “typical” kind of music. Such a CD would be painful to listen to. The problem with the concept behind this book is that the examples are fictitious, whereas delivering an eulogy for a real dead brother is quite an emotional experience and would probably not mention cheese. In the same way, it is a bit hard to write soundtrack music for a scene in a movie that doesn’t exist.

Is this a warning against my own preoccupation with writing soundtracks to scenes and characters from Discworld novels? Maybe, but I like doing it anyway.

Another way to link this book with music composition is consider that many ceremonies have music associated with them. A wedding has music for the entrance of the bride, the exit of the couple, the wedding dance. Funerals often have some music. Music and ceremony go together very naturally. Other examples are sport, religious worship and ceremonies, marches, and also ancient tribal ceremonies of indigenous people.

That’ll do for today.