Mu­sic for funerals

Let's Talk - - Contents -

Over the years of writ­ing this ar­ti­cle there has been a lot of cor­re­spon­dence and com­ments re­lat­ing to mu­sic. There have been a cou­ple of oc­ca­sions where peo­ple have asked for help trac­ing tracks to be played at their fu­neral.

Nowa­days peo­ple do tend to have mu­sic played rather than hymns, and get­ting it right is im­por­tant.

I have had a lit­tle bit of help from Stu­art Cox, Cor­po­rate Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Man­ager, Dig­nity PLC (it runs both the St Faith and Nor­wich cre­ma­to­ri­ums) about what is and isn’t per­mis­si­ble.

Cre­ma­to­ri­ums are gov­erned by Per­form­ing Rights Li­cenc­ing and can only play mu­sic from orig­i­nal CDs. Lots of fu­neral di­rec­tors hold stocks of mu­sic of favourite songs that they can have played at this time, and there is al­ways the op­tion of the fu­neral di­rec­tor sup­ply­ing a CD player to play a favourite piece of mu­sic or song, get­ting around the orig­i­nal CD prob­lem.

Or­gan­ists are avail­able, or if you want live mu­sic this can also be in­cor­po­rated into the fu­neral, sub­ject to the in­stru­ments be­ing PAT tested.

So now we get on to the rather del­i­cate bit: what song(s) do you want played?

I had thought that peo­ple should put into their will what mu­sic they wanted play­ing, but it was pointed out to me that most wills are not read un­til after the fu­neral has taken place. It would be good if loved ones were made aware of favourite songs (writ­ten down some­where would be best). And then there is an­other point, what if the song has been per­formed by sev­eral artists. What ver­sion do you want?

Stu­art has told me that a new sys­tem is be­ing in­stalled at St Faith in the sum­mer which pro­vides ac­cess to thou­sands of pop, rock and clas­si­cal pieces of mu­sic. It will elim­i­nate prob­lems such as poor qual­ity songs, the CD not work­ing and li­cens­ing laws (the com­pany that own the Wes­ley Sys­tem pays an an­nual li­cens­ing fee), and pro­vides a good qual­ity of mu­sic.

A cou­ple of weeks ago a na­tional news­pa­per fea­tured the 78 most pop­u­lar fu­neral songs in its cul­ture sec­tion.

It in­cluded rock, pop, clas­si­cal mu­sic and hymns. It is re­ally in­ter­est­ing to see that the theme tunes of Last Of The Sum­mer Wine, Coronation Street and Only Fools and Horses all make the list.

The more sporty have plumped for You’ll Never Walk Alone by Gerry and the Pace­mak­ers, The Match Of the Day theme, and Soul Limbo by Booker T and the MGs which in­tro­duces Test Match Spe­cial.

Sur­pris­ingly or not, the top song is Al­ways Look On the Bright Side of Life by Monty Python/Eric Idle, which has knocked My Way by Frank Si­na­tra off the top.

Led Zep­pelin, Queen and Tina Turner are among those pro­vid­ing the rock. This re­ally shows a cul­tural shift away from tra­di­tional hymns and is more of a re­flec­tion of modern day life.

Enigma Vari­a­tions, Canon in D by Pachel­bel and Four Sea­sons by Vi­valdi, all fea­ture at the top of the clas­si­cal mu­sic list. The Lord is my Shep­herd, Abide With Me and All Things Bright and Beau­ti­ful topped the hymns.

We all have our own tastes in mu­sic and there are no rights/ wrongs when it comes to funerals.

So I hope you find this in­for­ma­tive about what you can do mu­si­cally and per­haps make you think about what mu­sic you’d like.

I’d like to think it will make peo­ple act and list what mu­sic they want played, which will be a great help and shield fam­ily mem­bers from more dis­tress at what is al­ready a very sad time.

The Monty Python gang, whose song Al­ways Look on the Bright Side of Life is the most pop­u­lar choice at funerals.

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