My Favourite Music – by Lucy Pye

Digital Ambassador Lucy Pye chronicles life as an RNCM student in a series of monthly blog posts.

Hi everyone,

I hope lockdown is treating you all somewhat nicely! I wanted to write a post about the music I’m currently loving and listening to – not really playing so much as technique exams are coming soon so that’s my primary focus right now! I hope this maybe gives you something new to listen to and hopefully enjoy!

My first pick I think has to be Evermore by Taylor Swift. I fell in love with her music making and storytelling ability years ago but I think this album is my absolute favourite – she paints such vivid pictures with her words it’s incredible! I’m finding it very hard to choose one specific favourite song from this album but I think it might be ‘Marjorie’ – it’s a song written for her grandmother and the grief Swift felt at not getting to know her better. I think it’s a fitting song for 2020 and the beginning of 2021 for anyone who needs to grieve for a certain person or, sadly, possibly people. This album is quite melancholy, full of contemplation, and all the songs have a very gentle sound. I’m an amateur songwriter myself and the variety of themes and stories in this album opened up some new doors and concepts for me to try in my own writing.

My second choice is Ella Fitzgerald: Gold – in particular The Lady is a Tramp, Cheek to Cheek, Embraceable You and Misty. To be perfectly honest, this greatest hits collection is anything but new to me as I have loved Ella Fitzgerald’s voice and her delivery of her songs for pretty much as long as I can remember. I can’t really say what it is I love so much about her voice, it is just gorgeous! If you haven’t listened to her before I highly recommend it, her duets with Louis Armstrong always make me smile, and if you’re a jazz/blues fan you can work out the chords, their inversions and how many additional intervals are involved for some practice between jazz theory and musicianship classes if you’d like.

My third choice are the soundtracks from Company and Into The Woods by Stephen Sondheim. I adore the music and the worlds this man creates within each show and I love how complex his songs are, either melodically or rhythmically or, if you’re unlucky, both. I’m currently learning a couple of songs from Company – namely Ladies Who Lunch and Being Alive – and I’m completely in love with both of them. The songs in Company are fantastic – the most famous one probably being Getting Married Today. The panic and hysteria in that song probably resonates with many people in this current climate. If you fancy a challenge and something to pass the time, I recommend trying to learn and record/perform the sections sung by Amy the manic bride. If you’re tech savvy or have access to something like the Acapella app you can record all three parts. You’re either going to feel very proud of how you did or you’ll dissolve into a fit of giggles, both of which will make you smile, and I can say confidently that I am definitely in the latter section of those options.

Into The Woods is also a musical I adore – if I were studying musical theatre I’d definitely want to play the witch. Last Midnight is such a good song and it’s such fun to try and get into the tired, bitter character for that song. I love the humour in this musical. The song Agony is a good example, with the two princes trying to one-up each other on who has the worse deal in terms of their love interests – the facial expressions and choreography in the film are excellent. On the Steps of the Palace is another excellent example of the complexity of Sondheim; the timing is very difficult to get right and the comedic timing and expression is also fantastic when done well but it’s so difficult to balance these things together!

My fourth choice is the soundtracks from Mamma Mia and Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again because what’s better than one cheesy film with an excellent cast and music by ABBA? Two of them! These films are definitely my comfort movies and the soundtracks are perfect for when I need a little boost or a smile, especially during lockdown! If you’re home alone – or your family loves these songs as much as you do – I highly recommend blasting these soundtracks as loud as you can and running around singing along and dancing to all the songs! Not only will the moving around help you stop feeling bored and probably a bit cabin feverish, the songs are fantastic and you can have a go at recreating the films’ choreography if you so wish (I personally recommend this as I can’t dance for toffee but if you channel Julie Walters’ energy you’ll be just fine and have an excellent laugh doing so). If you want a more low maintenance way to enjoy them then simply watching the films is enough of a laughter generator in itself! Either way it’s a win and laughter is most definitely needed just now!

My fifth and final choice is the album 12 Songs From Home by Ludovico Einaudi. He recorded this on his upright piano in his home during April 2020, at the height of Italy’s lockdown. The album is intimate and beautiful – it’s 12 of his pieces from previous albums, but all performed very simply on solo piano by Einaudi himself. It’s a perfect reflection of what many musicians find themselves doing in lockdown – making music alone. The melodies he chose are gorgeous, but rather haunting without other instruments playing alongside and it’s interesting to listen to the pieces side by side – one studio recorded with other instruments and the other recorded alone on a piano in his house that Einaudi himself admits needs tuning. It’s an interesting contrast. I have loved minimalism and Einaudi for a few years now – I mainly used his music for studying purposes when I was in school as there were enough instruments to block out distractions for me but not too many as to overwhelm me as I tried to work on my French or Spanish. But especially during lockdown I’ve listened purely for enjoyment. I think as many people as possible should listen to this latest album for the intimacy, simplicity and beauty of it.

I hope you enjoy my choices and maybe even find some new music to love! Please keep safe and well during these stressful and confusing times – I hope things can go back to some semblance of normality soon so we can all rehearse, perform and listen to each other without having to worry about our distances and how close the nearest sanitiser station is! Until that wonderful time please try to be kind and gentle with yourselves, remember your masks when you go shopping and keep in touch with friends and family!

– Lucy

4 February 2021