Friday, May 11, 2007

Aural Memory

What kind of music did you teach the choir in Our Town? he asked.
Church music, I said. The singers in the play are part of a church choir.
Sing it for me, he asked.
Oh, no -- it's over the phone -- it will sound terrible, I said.
Sing it for me, he asked again.
So I began singing the hymns in the play, and when he requested more (as I had, once, been a church organist and knew all the hymns), I sang through the Doxology.

Well, halfway through. Halfway, until I suddenly shrieked with laughter and recognition.

It's the same tune, I told him.
What? he said.
The same melody -- isn't that amazing?

And, to prove it, I sang it for him.

Om jai jagdish.

(From the editor: No, it's not the same "note-for-note." Check the comments section for a better explanation of the music theory involved. I'm not sure how to post audio files on Blogger; run an audio search through your favorite search engine for "Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow" -- don't search "Doxology;" you'll get a bunch of songs by the Christian band of the same name -- and for "Om Jai Jagdish" to hear the two melodies.)


Anonymous said...

Blue - which version of the Doxology? The only one I've heard had a simple tune, but not that of Om Jai Jagdish...can you post an audio clip? This is fascinating....


Blue said...

Bitterlemons -- I'm thinking of the oldest version of the Doxology (well, the oldest I know).

It's not the same tune note-for-note. But it follows a similar pattern; an extended note at the tonic, followed by a dip downwards and then a rise up to the dominant, a brief filigree and then back down but not to the tonic; we hover a step above, tantalizing the listener, then we rise again... then we fall back down and land, firmly, at home.

The rhythms are also strikingly similar.