Gently mournful, decidedly modern: suggestions for memorial music
December 14, 2014 9:23 AM   Subscribe

As part of my job, I'm coordinating an informal memorial service for a young graduate of my school who died this summer in an accident. I'm looking for music to play/have playing at the beginning , as people arrive, and at the end as people leave. Can you help?

I never met him, but I've talked with his parents and they've said his musical tastes were very diverse. They also don't expect this gathering to be religious, as they are not (and their family had a religious service soon after the accident).

I have access to a talented pianist and a sound system, and I have been listening to this arrangement of Hide and Seek a lot as I prepare the program - could that work as part of the incidental music? What other music might be appropriate? Most of the music mentioned in this thread seems too jangly.

As I said to a friend of mine, I feel like every service for a young person includes Coldplay, so I am looking for things between Coldplay and Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing. Thank you for your suggestions!
posted by deliriouscool to Media & Arts (13 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Hard to say if this would work for you, but Elton John's Funeral For A Friend? (without Love Lies Bleeding) Maybe it's too obvious? But it's a nice piece of music (and I'm not an Elton John fan by any means), it's got a lot of dynamics, and it shouldn't be too hard to modify the segue to LLB to any other song you might prefer. It would probably require at least a guitarist in addition to the pianist.
posted by doctor tough love at 10:12 AM on December 14, 2014

"Your Hand in Mine" by Explosions in the Sky can definitely be described as gently mournful. Bonus: It has no words, so it's meaning is whatever you want it to be, and it's also 8 minutes long. (These bonuses apply to pretty much all of their songs-long, contemplative instrumental post-rock)
posted by FirstMateKate at 10:18 AM on December 14, 2014

Arvo Pärt's Cantus in Memoriam of Benjamin Britten is not "gently" mournful, but it's both modern and beautiful.
posted by Johnny Assay at 10:23 AM on December 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

Do You Realize by the Flaming Lips is sad but uplifting at the same time.
posted by ian1977 at 11:05 AM on December 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Satie's Gymnopedies I think are a good mood... perhaps less modern than you were thinking of, but definitely more modern than Chopin. Here's one so you can make your own mind up.
posted by fearnothing at 11:15 AM on December 14, 2014

Best answer: I like Philip Glass' Closing
posted by crocomancer at 12:00 PM on December 14, 2014

I'm thinking of an instrumental (no voice) version of Hallelujah (Leonard Cohen). I found one on youtube that's performed by Allison Crowe. You have a talented pianist, perhaps you could find the sheet music if you like the performance at (I'm sorry I don't know how to do fancy links yet).

I don't think of this as religious at all, the words certainly are not, and it has been covered by just about everybody and used in West Wing for a heartbreaking moment.

Just a thought.
posted by alwayson_slightlyoff at 12:38 PM on December 14, 2014

Imogen Heap actually did an acoustic cover of Hallelujah.
posted by litera scripta manet at 12:51 PM on December 14, 2014

I'd also thought of Arvo Pärt, but I had thought of Für Alina, which I would say is gentle and perfectly achingly mournful.

I'd also say that all of the album that "Your Hand in Mine" came from is worth considering; it's called The Earth is not a Cold, Dead Place and it's on youtube here.

and Vladimir Martynov. I've only just discovered him and haven't dug too deeply but I'd say his beatitudes would work well at the end. it's mournful but there's something affirming about it at the same time; the sense I get from it is of life going on after.
posted by spindle at 1:22 PM on December 14, 2014

If you want non-instrumental, Fear No More, music by Sondheim, lyrics by Shakespeare. Words here.
posted by still_wears_a_hat at 1:53 PM on December 14, 2014

I find Brian Eno's instrumental An Ending (Ascent) to be gently mournful, meditative, and beautiful. Whenever I hear it, I feel my heart contract in my chest and tears spring to my eyes, but not in an unpleasant way, if that makes sense. I think it would be perfect entrance and/or exit music. The original is 4:26, but it doesn't seem like it would be hard to loop seamlessly if need be.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 4:23 PM on December 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

I also thought of Arvo Pärt; I think Spiegel Im Spiegel is one of his gentler pieces. On listening to it now, I realize it has some similarities to "An Ending"--perhaps that's why I like it and think of it in the same context.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 4:30 PM on December 14, 2014

Response by poster: Thanks, everybody - we ended up with a pianist who played Satie and Chopin. I've added a number of these selections to my Spotify playlist because they're great. Thank you for your thoughtful input.
posted by deliriouscool at 5:42 AM on December 21, 2014

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