MYSTICAL NATIVITY (Wikimedia detail)
In December 2000 I wrote in tribute to old-world Christmas carols as an antidote to modern, holiday music blasphemy. Another of my Christmas articles, from December 2007, “Christmas Music: A Postmortem Reflection,” raised the question of government’s role in desecrating the sounds of the season via the public airwaves churning out an irritating assemblage of monotonous noises judiciously arranged in predictable 25-song playlists that manage to dumb down graceful carols into catatonic choruses of pop culture that resemble Pepsi commercials strafed with misplaced Santa jingles.
All hail the digital age, for that is the reason that the season is no longer stuck in the realm of public goods – the government’s airwaves – with no alternatives other than firing up the audio equipment to play one’s vast collection of a costly and hard-to-get Christmas collection, one LP or CD or cassette at a time. It has taken me 20+ years to compile my eclectic Christmas collection, and only the digital age has made collecting such music affordable and effortlessly diverse.
My digitized Christmas music collection is now pushing 20 gigabytes in size, thanks to a few hundred CDs and a voluminous catalog of iTunes downloads. Even so, with the arrival of the Internet, radio on demand, high-quality Bluetooth sound units, and subscription-based and free music services, the collections of the past are less practical and can be more limited than on-demand type music services.
Simply put, the ‘free’ and governmentized airwaves have been entirely upended by multiple market-based music solutions whose purpose is not to conform by offering palatable playlists designed for a constricted audience, but rather, to offer wide-ranging choices and personal customization at low cost, and oftentimes for free. These services rely on vastly different business models for processing user data and algorithms to push out an endless stream of custom choices. Some of these services – such as Pandora – are still working through the issues of building profitable business models, but it is evident that the future has “market” and not “government” or “public goods” written all over it.
The eclectic Christmas music I refer to is a hodgepodge of traditional tunes and old-world carols including medieval, victorian, a cappella, appalachian, country, bluegrass, big band, brass, choir, inspirational, organ, strings, new age, classical, gospel, traditional, and even some occasional doo-wop and rock. Furthermore, I like a classical spin on a contemporary Christmas tune, such as just about anything by Michael Crawford, John McDermott, or Josh Groban. Michael Crawford’s “A Journey to Bethlehem (A Christmas Medley)” is a great example of a spectacular modern spin on popular-traditional songs.
The old-world carols are largely forgotten by the mainstream in spite of the fact that many contemporaries – Charlotte Church, Kathy Mattea, Katie McMahon, Dan Fogelberg, and Linda Ronstadt – sing wonderful versions of the old carols.
Even more exhilarating are the old tunes sung in old form by less traditional artists that would have little to no public exposure except for their appearances at renaissance festivals, fairs, local events, and, of course, representation in the digital age and assorted digital markets.
Pandora Radio offers up many unique Christmas stations that include Christmas choral classics, Celtic, classical, and traditional. Whether one chooses to accept the variety offered or customize stations based on favorites and rejections, Pandora pulls from a very deep catalog that is not subject to management-approved playlists tailored to a tediously conventional audience. Slacker, Spotify, iHeartRadio, Songza, Stitcher, and multiple other choices also abound. And iTunes radio recently entered the streaming radio world, allowing customization based on your music in iTunes.
The iTunes store, an old stalwart in the digital age, still stands out as pure genius because it allows for endless search options on artists and songs. I search on favorite old-world carols like “Gloucestershire Wassail”; “A Virgin Unspotted”; “Still, Still, Still”; or “Veni, Veni, Emmanuel” to explore distinct versions by obscure artists. Without iTunes I never would have discovered performers like Cantus, a classical ensemble that performs one of the best arrangements I have ever heard of “Coventry Carol.”
In my many discussions with individuals, I find that they tend to be stubborn about “not liking” Christmas music because they have not been exposed to real Christmas music, and oftentimes not even as a child in the home. I grew up listening to the Christmas music of the Robert Shaw Chorale, Arthur Fiedler, Andy Williams, Perry Como, Bing Crosby, Harry Simeone Chorale, Ray Coniff, Mitch Miller, Fred Waring, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Vienna Choir Boys, Leroy Anderson, Choir of King’s College, and other conventional music of that time.
From there, the CD age made more non-mainstream music available, and this allowed me to evolve as I went back further and dug deeper in the traditional world to explore enduring, age-old carols that had seemed to get lost in contemporary times. The tunes played today in celebration of Christmas are heavily influenced by the calamity of public airwaves that serve to prop up politically correct holiday convictions while pleasing the majority of the collective masses by not causing anyone heartburn and distress by way of playing songs from the great unknown.
Several years ago, I had come across a CD by Barry and Beth Hall, a duo that recorded a CD of “holiday tunes from the middle ages.” The Halls and their music were featured on a 2010 segment of NPR’s “All Things Considered” by Tom Manoff where he focused on some of his favorite Christmas music that never “made it to the favorites list.” I had spent some time corresponding with Barry Hall via email, and we even took to exchanging CDs via snail mail – he sent me some recorded music of his that was unavailable commercially, and I sent him multiple CDs of my very eclectic mixes from my “Ancient Christmas Music” series of playlists from iTunes.
Let us not forget that it was Rush Limbaugh – like him or hate him – who helped to catapult Mannheim Steamroller into the spotlight by playing Mannheim’s music as bumper music on his daily show throughout the Christmas season. Mannheim Steamroller helped to marry radio-friendly music to old-world carols with an innovative and creative approach to old Christmas music, and this made Chip Davis and his Mannheim Steamroller gig the most popular Christmas music artist of the 80s and 90s. The popularity of Mannheim Steamroller did much to expose the masses to some wonderful and unfamiliar carols that were enhanced by Chip Davis’s beautiful, electronic versions of old Christmas favorites.
All the delightful, ancient Christmas music that I cherish comes to life each November and December as I listen only to my catalog of Christmas music interspersed with the various music services and the creative alternatives they have to offer. Other than attending a classical symphony event, all other music is shelved until January.
In addition, the Detroit area is blessed with the Christmas season performances of a local ensemble, Simply Dickens, as they perform the old carols throughout the season at various venues in the area. My old friend Ken, who manages and arranges songs for the group, describes Simply Dickens as a “period music vocal group” that performs “Christmas music from the 19th century and before.” On his blog, Passion for the Past, Ken has written a wonderful chronicle about the group’s repertoire, its changing faces, as well as its evolution over twelve years of performing.
Ken and I spent many years collecting and exchanging this old music, even back in the days when we had to spend hours recording and mixing music on blank cassettes, well before the digital era. One 90-minute cassette could take 3+ hours to record. ‘Tis why I can so appreciate these blessed days of popping a CD into iTunes or downloading songs, and clicking and dragging songs to Playlists.
Why the performance of this style of music is not more popular is not exactly a mystery. My discussions with the anti-Christmas music crowd reveals they have formed opinions based on having little to no experience with anything other than the routine tripe that bombards the airwaves starting in early November and stays until 6pm Christmas evening. Let’s hope that the versatility and accessibility of the digital era helps to provoke a resurgence of this traditional music by bringing more of it to the masses.
Karen DeCoster, CPA [send her mail] is an accounting/finance professional in the healthcare industry and a freelance writer, blogger, and speaker. She is also a member of the Board of Directors of Belgian Publishing, Inc. She writes about libertarian matters, economics, financial markets, the medical establishment, the corporate state, health totalitarianism, zeitgeist, Detroit, and Flemish interests. When she has a few moments of spare time she enjoys cycling, paddling sports, photography, conversations with friends, iPoding, doing stuff with guns, visiting wine regions, and miscellaneous pursuits in her woman cave. This is herLewRockwell.com archive and her Mises.org archive. Check out her website. Also see her blogDetroit: From Rust to Riches. Follow her on Twitter @karendecoster.
Copyright © 2013 by LewRockwell.com. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted, provided full credit and a live link are given.
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”I knew Django Reinhardt well. He used to say jazz was gipsy – we often argued over that.
I agree with many Americans I met in France who said he played very well but with too many gipsy tricks.
He had very good technique for both hands, or rather one hand and a pick, because he always played with a pick.
Not me, I play with my fingers.
There are things you can’t do with a pick – you can’t strike the treble with two fingers and play something else on the bass string.
– But I admired him and he was my friend.
He was my greatest friend in France.
We played together many times, just for ourselves. I used to go to his wagon, where he lived. I’ve slept and eaten there – and also played! He had three or four guitars. Django never asked anyone to go to his wagon, but he made an exception with me. I appreciated him, and I believe the feeling was mutual”. (OA in an interview, quoted from article by Tómas Mooney: Oscar Alemán: Swing Guitarist, Jazz Journal International, Vol. 35, No. 4 + 5 (1982))
Self-made man: Sykes supporting Ukip in 2001
Make no mistake: Paul Sykes’s return to the Ukip fold – revealed exclusively by The Daily Telegraph – is game-changing.
This is not just a Yorkshireman with lots of money at his disposal, but a self-made millionaire who is as sharp, determined and principled as they come.
When Paul Sykes puts his weight behind a cause, it’s a big compliment to the cause concerned.
His dramatic call to arms is an undeniable coup for Nigel Farage and fires the starting gun for next year’s elections.
Sykes can give you a no-BS diagnosis of how entrepreneurial Britain is thinking and feeling just by his actions.
His intervention is timely. While the economic recovery is hopefully on its way, businesses still have to face a torrent of bureaucracy that a change of government hasn’t stemmed.
Only this September, nine out of ten companies in a poll slammed the Coalition’s flagship energy policy, the Electricity Market Reform programme.
Contained within the Government’s Energy Bill, this £110bn project worries businesses with good reason – and yet it comes as a piece of legislation from a supposedly Right-of-centre, pro-business government.
The Conservatives pushed going green as a major part of their self-indulgent, failed, skin-deep rebrand.
In doing so they have pushed businesses into the red and made business owners go purple; with anger in most cases… and sometimes in political allegiance as well.
UKIP are sceptical of man-made climate change and oppose the creation of wind farms and investment in other renewable energy sources. In 2010, UKIP stated that they would seek to have a Royal Commission investigate whether or not climate change is man-made, to scrap wind farm subsidies, ban the showing of the global warming film An Inconvenient Truth in schools, and ban use of public money by local authorities on climate change-related efforts. UKIP’s 2013 energy policy document states that global warming is part of a natural cycle: “the slight warming in the last hundred years is entirely consistent with well-established, long-term natural climate cycles”.
On Any Questions, Nigel Farage described plans to increase the use of wind energy as “loopy” and said it would lead to Britain being covered “in ugly disgusting ghastly windmills” that would not satisfactorily provide for Britain’s energy needs.
UKIP politician Christopher Monckton said that the intention of a proposed United Nations climate treaty was to “impose a communist world government”, and stated that UKIP was the only option for those who disbelieve in climate change as “all the major parties have decided to sign up to the eco-fascist agenda”.
I do not mess around!!!!
I will, with my last dying breath be trying to warn people about what is really going on and if it costs me my life, oh well!
I use trickery and my covert intelligence to get the word out through my art!!!
I am sure some do not know what I am up to until it is too late.
Man oh man, what an effort just to be able to tell the truth! — in Victoria.
Photo Above: ‘Hobo Stevie Shellenberger’ de Montreal
Photo Below: ‘Goyo de la Rosa’ de Victoria
1. We need handbills made up, one that says our next 2 film nights, our upcoming rally and our weekly meetings. the handbill wouuld be best in Black and white for cheap printing and better if there was 4-6 a page so one sheet which costs 0.08 can be given to many people, we can also print double sided pages for the same cost. If you get me the file done, I will print up 100 which could give us 4-600 by saturday to hand out.
2. We need some more posters made up, a few for the rally that also look good in Black and white, and for the next film night which is November 3rd and we will be screening “take back your power” which is a film about the dangers of smart meters. something creative like an all seeing eye or something….short slogans about smart meter surveillance….if we get these done, we can use the kitty to print them up.
I am not very skilled in poster making, I apologize for that, but we need to be able to get things done without having to have meetings all the time…I am hoping someone will read this and just take the iniative to make them and forward them to me…if we get a few awesome posters, we can print them all…
main priority is the handbills for the March against Monsanto to promote the good work we all do here…please if I can have them the sooner the better, I know we have amazingly talented people out there…if you want any info on what to put on the posters or handbills message me