Musical Marriage

Warning, faithful reader! This post may contain spoilers.

I finished The Sirens of Titan. I loved it and I loved the music that I chose to go with it.

What kind of music goes best with Vonnegut? The action of the novel takes place on several planets. One of the characters is an alien. A big, Space Opera sound seems to be in order, perhaps a sci-fi soundtrack or classical work. Vonnegut even mentions two classical works in the novel. The reference to Chopin’s “Minute Waltz” was probably just intended to serve as an example of something speedy. The reference to Stravinsky is potentially more important. He wrote,

“The harmoniums in the caves of Mercury were crazy about good music, too. They had been feeding on one sustained note in the song of Mercury for centuries. When Boaz gave them their first taste of music, which happened to be Le Sacre du Printemps, some of the creatures actually died in ecstasy.”

A dead harmonium looks like a dried apricot, by the way.

Vonnegut didn’t mention the harmonium-killing work until page 208, which was long past the point at which I chose the novel’s musical mate. I didn’t have any recordings of Stravinsky anyway. I thought about using The Planets by Holst, but that was too obvious, and most of the movie soundtracks that I own are already wedded to the movies from which they sprang. I decided to go in a completely different direction.

I chose Coldplay’s X&Y. It worked because some of the songs have an eerie quality. The lyrics also eerily matched the action and themes of the novel. Vonnegut would talk about space travel and Chris Martin would sing, “You and me are drifting into outer space.” The more I listened to the album, the more it suited the novel. All marriages should be so perfect.

When I say that I loved The Sirens of Titan, that’s no exaggeration. Its themes are huge and deep and touching. I recommend it unreservedly.

Next up in the Vonnegut marathon is Mother Night, which I plan to start in mid-to-late June. In the meantime, I’ll be broadening my musical horizons by listening to Le Sacre du Printemps, which I just borrowed from the library.

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