Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day

At heart a serious & somber holiday. But I associate it first with the modest community parades in Roselle Park & Rahway. I parked my lawn chair for the Rahway parades about halfway through its route downtown, at the end of a long straightaway, where it turned a corner & tended to bunch up, the amateur marching band music bounced off the buildings & was amplified, & I often heard all the bands in the parade at the same time; at least two high school bands, a fife & drum corps, & a silly Shriner's group playing psuedo-oriental tunes. Composer Charles Ives heard this also, as a kid in Danbury, Connecticut. He invented unusual techniques over 100 years ago to capture the cacophony. For many decades this was considered radical, even unplayable music, although now we know it isn't so "avant garde," but actually a wonderful recreation of a funny effect we all recognize. "Country Band March" has become a band concert staple because it sounds "right" whether its performed perfectly or not, which wouldn't bother Ives as long as its played in earnest, in the spirit of the thing.

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Rahway's parade was over in 23 minutes...a perfect length for any easily-distracted seven year old.
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