The Weekly Music Thread is for the Children!

Let’s discuss any and all music here. Got a new artist who’s rocking your boat that you want to talk about? Post a video! Found out about that unearthed Coltrane album that has the jazz freak in you losing your mind? Lay it out for us! Have a theory about what your favorite band might do for their next album? Let’s hear it! Anything and everything music-related goes here.

This week’s discussion prompt comes courtesy of The Avocado’s very own KingKat:

What is some of your favorite children’s music (or music that wasn’t intended as such, but could work)?

The Langley Schools Music Project consists of recordings made in 1976~77 of elementary school children singing and playing pop hits, including songs by the Beach Boys, Paul McCartney and David Bowie. Captured on a two-track tape deck in a school gym in a (then) rural area of Western Canada, the recordings were pressed to two LPs and given to the students and others involved in the project as a keepsake. In 2000, a copy of the first LP turned up in a thrift store in Victoria, where it was purchased by a collector named Brian Linds; realizing that he had found something special, Linds sent a copy to outsider music historian Irwin Chusid. After the second LP was located, Bar/None Records eventually released them as a single CD in 2001, quickly creating an international buzz and making many end-of-the-year best album lists.

Now those of you unfamiliar may be wondering why all the excitement, but these recordings are truly something special. Beyond the innocent, flawed and bittersweet performances by the children (using Orff xylophones, metallophones, and a motley assortment of whatever other instruments they could scrounge up), the arrangements and recordings by music teacher Hans Fenger are absolutely brilliant. Using the gymnasium as a huge echo chamber, Fenger arranged the choruses and instrumentation in such a way that he was able to create lo-fi “wall of sound”. Bowie himself described Fenger’s arrangement of “Space Oddity” as “a piece of art that I couldn’t have conceived of with half of Columbia’s finest export products in my system”.

Fenger later said:

“I knew virtually nothing about conventional music education, and didn’t know how to teach singing. Above all, I knew nothing of what children’s music was supposed to be. But the kids had a grasp of what they liked: emotion, drama, and making music as a group. Whether the results were good, bad, in tune or out was no big deal — they had élan. This was not the way music was traditionally taught. But then I never liked conventional ‘children’s music,’ which is condescending and ignores the reality of children’s lives, which can be dark and scary. These children hated ‘cute.’ They cherished songs that evoked loneliness and sadness.”

The recordings truly have to be heard to be believed, and if you haven’t already I cannot recommend them enough.

As always, any and all music-related topics are welcome. Have fun, and rock out with yr guac out!