HAPPY FUNERAL DAY: FAREWELL MUSIC OF DIFFERENT NATIONS.
In our culture, burial and the whole process of farewell to a departed person is usually a continuous gloom and doom. Often all this is accompanied by mournful melodies, sometimes with vocal parts.
However, among many nations there is a belief that a person goes to a better world or gets rid of suffering in this. Therefore, we must rejoice, and it makes no sense to be sad, all we will be there sooner or later.
Whatever it is, let's see or rather listen to the relatively funny funeral of different nations. Moreover, some songs will definitely be appropriate in another environment.
The first thing that comes to mind is the “Orchestra of Weddings and Funeral” by Goran Bregovic, but in fact, he is just a popularizer of the Balkan ethnicity. The peoples there are quite religious, and in the Christian and Muslim traditions it is not very customary to have fun after the death of someone close. Something vaguely reminiscent of Balkan music seldom can be heard in Japan, but more on that below.
The Balkan style has three main progenitors: Byzantine music, Greek and Turkish that is also called Ottoman. And, of course, gypsies. Therefore, frequently Bregovic is accused of plagiarism of folk art.
In India, during the ceremony people sing merry mantras, and the funeral itself includes a multi-stage procedure with rituals and cremation.
For example, the mantra "Ram Nam Sagage" is a call for an early, safe rebirth. It is also believed that during a fun burial a person (or his soul) will quickly reach the Absolute, Goloka Vrindavana, or something else higher and cosmic. Funny funeral mantras and chants can be heard from Hare Krishnas as far as from Hindus.
In Taiwan, people can also have fun during the funeral and arrange some kind of performance. For example, recently in the procession of one official 50 strippers danced on the jeeps roof, one for each specially equipped pylon.
A funeral ceremony in Japan may occasionally take place with drums. In the 1990 film “Dreams” by Akira Kurosawa, the burial ceremony in the village is presented very vividly. People blow the pipes there (very similar to the Balkans), beat the drums and even dance. Everything seems to be sad, but bright and optimistic. The Japanese, as you know, have a special attitude to death, many are not afraid of it.
In Ethiopia as in Japan, burial also occurs with drums. But the Black Continent lives or to better say dies not by single rhythms. In Kenya, for example, there is such a performer as Ayub Ogada. The sounds of his nenity, Kenyan eight-stringed lute, fascinate and immerse into a state of pristine untouched nature. Now his works are periodically used in the modern version of African and Asian funerals.
People in Ghana sing litanies, songs containing details of the life of a deceased person. Usually performed by women.
The removal of the body is accompanied by cheerful music and dancing, which celebrate bright events from the life of the dead. It is worth to note that a dancer with a coffin is the same profession in Ghana as the mourners in the Slavic Christian tradition.
The tradition of singing and having fun with folk and jazz rhythms came to the United States from Africa. Many African-American culture scientists have noted that since the beginning of the twentieth century, in the same New Orleans, the mecca of jazz, the funeral was held quite at ease. Something dark could still be played in the cemetery but they continued to worry about the moving of their compatriot to the other side easier at home.
A curious case is known when Barack Obama, as a president, at the funeral of Nelson Mandela in 2013, behaved quite cheekily and constantly smiled. Some journalists then decided that such behavior was a tribute to African traditions.
In fact, to get acquainted with the music from the modern Afro tradition that is played during the burial, just turn on the New Orleans jazz in major tones. And the funeral took place.
Actually, even Aretha Franklin during the funeral of Martin Luther King simply sang instead of a sad speech. At her recent funeral, a concert was staged by Stevie Wonder, Gladys Knight, Faith Hill, Jennifer Hudson and Ariana Grande.
The tradition of playing more cheerful music at the funeral also exists in Mexico. Ever since the days of the Aztecs and Mayans, they have been very fond of joking about the topic of death. For what it's worth, a grand celebration of the Day of the Dead in this country.
Folk music of a later period, after the Spanish colonization is called mariachi and is also performed at the funeral.
In Colombia, an action can develop into a festival to the songs of Lumbalu. This is the name of the burial cult that remained after the ancient people of Bantu, who once inhabited these territories. Such an action can last for several days.
Thanks to the release of Discrepant we can hear how the funeral in Haiti sounds. Sound engineer Felix Blum recorded the music of 15 funeral processions on a Caribbean island and it's amazingly beautiful.
“Death in Haiti” immerses the listener in the world of pain, loss and, at the same time, solemn celebration since each ceremony was attended by a live jazz band and characters, such as the Joker, who joked and talked about the recently deceased.
Wire described the collected sounds in a such way: “In December 2016, sound engineer Felix Blum made field recordings of several funerals in Haiti with screams, laughter, rum and marijuana on the grave, one procession without a body and the voice of the joker Ti Batau, which should remind us that life and death is a comedy, not a tragedy.”
This beautiful document of a flourishing tradition is a copy or an updated version of famous Dirge Jazz records, such as the Eureka Brass Band in New Orleans, for example.
Mentioned Discrepant, as well as Sucata Tapes, Souk Records, Farsa Discos is a family of labels where you can order digital and traditional physical media music. The formations say of themselves: “Our goal is to deconstruct, distort and reassemble knowledge of (un) popular music from around the world.”
In our latitudes everything is much more prosaic. The theme of the funeral is rather taboo and bears the imprint of a straight face. In the heyday of Baroque it was fashionable to write requiem and lacrimosa. Later, all sorts of funeral marches appeared. We still love gloomy classics and suffer.
Almost all famous composers from the classical school were noted in the writing of the funeral-farewell: Beethoven - Funeral march; Berlioz - On the death of Hamlet; Verdi - Requiem (Agnus Dei, Recordare) and Lacrimosa; Grieg - Death to Oz; Leaf - Mourning Gondola; Mendelssohn - Funeral March; Mozart - Requiem (Lacrimosa); Stravinsky - Mourning ode; Tchaikovsky - The funeral of the doll; Chopin - Funeral March; Schubert - Ave Maria. This is not a complete list of how difficult it is to stay in the mood.
It is worth noting that the Christian tradition led to this approach and introduced the ritual of mourners requiem prayers. Earlier among the Slavs, the departure of man from earthly misery was celebrated with a feast, songs and dances. By the way, the tradition of drinking at a person’s grave exactly refers to pagan customs. From the music of pre-Christian times we can recall a lot of folk one, which some bands have now begun to revive in a difficult, traditional or experimental quality.
In general, now people have begun to turn more and more to contemporary pop culture during the ceremony and include up-to-date performers who sing something sad but not very burdensome. It will not be surprising that Bette Midler “Wind Beneath My Wings”, Céline Dion “Goodbye's”, Frank Sinatra “My Way”, Robbie Williams “Angels” or Pink Floyd “Wish You Were Here ” will be heard on a burial somewhere in Europe or the USA or something like that.