Life as the textile expert at a regional history museum

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Music for Work: Brahms and Beyoncé

When I'm away from my desk, working on some organizational task in the textile room or the conservation lab, I like to listen to music. If I'm in earlier than anyone else, or back in a corner by myself, sometimes I lip-sync along or even dance around if I feel inspired.

But I always listen with headphones or turn it down when someone comes into the room.  My taste is eclectic and wouldn't pass most tests of coolness. Basically, at work I am usually either listening to classical music (mostly choral pieces that I have sung or am about to sing), or dance-y pop music. It's Lady Gaga and Martin Lauridsen, 'Nsync and Nunc Dimittis .


Lately, my faves have been Johannes Brahms and Beyoncé.

I've been listening to a lot of Brahms because last weekend my parents had a big Brahms Requiem "sing along" party. (You know, typical American Labor day fun.) They had a conductor, two soloists,  the orchestration played by a duo on the piano, and about 30 singers at their house. We rehearsed in the afternoon, took a break for dinner, and then ran the whole thing in the evening.  I had never sung the Brahms Requiem before and when I wasn't completely botching the notes, I was finding myself deeply moved by many of the passages.

Then, on Sunday, I picked up some items waiting for me at the library, including Beyoncé's latest album which comes with a DVD of music videos for every song on the album. Olivia and I put it on, thinking that we could talk and get other stuff done while watching, but instead sat totally transfixed and silent for almost the entire seventy minutes.

If you know me, you know I talk A LOT. Olivia also likes to talk. One reason we like watching trashy reality TV shows is that we can talk over them and never really miss anything important (because, let's be honest, nothing legitimately important is ever happening, ever). When we watch something like Sherlock it takes focus and a lot more silence, so we just have to make sure we are both in the mental space to do that. So it is a big deal for us to plan to talk over something and be rendered totally speechless.

Even when it wasn't a song I loved, the visuals and the performances were POWERFUL. And in "Flawless" when she samples Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's Ted Talk about feminism...


(You might be surprised to know that there are more Beyoncé gifs than Brahms ones on the internet)

Wait…I found one...


ANYWAY, two weeks ago it was all Brahms all the time and this last week I was listening almost exclusively to Beyoncé as I put away dresses. 

Knowing that I am in a choir, one of my coworkers once asked why I don't sing more at work. I hope the above information clarifies why. If I did sing it would either be an out-of-context vocal part from a choral arrangement or a rendition of "Partition" so cringe-worthy that people in nearby buildings would feel the shame. 

In conclusion:

This week I'm thinking John Rutter and Robyn. 

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