Guest column: Author’s love for music by Dave Brock

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A national newspaper once asked DH Lawrence, along with several other important celebrity writers and thinkers of the time, if he would mind letting their readers know who his favourite musician was and which was the music he liked to listen to most.

The reply Lawrence gave is revealing. He said Amadeus Mozart and the pipes and drums of the native American Indians.

Lawrence had a good knowledge of music and attended many concerts and performances of operas.

He also had strong views, once denouncing the fanciful and unreal nature of much classical music as ‘too would-be’.

It is perfectly understandable that he should enjoy the spontaneous flair of an instinctive musical genius such as Mozart.

And anyone who has read Lawrence’s extraordinary series of amazingly descriptive and atmospheric travel essays, Mornings in Mexico, will be aware of his absorbing interest in and fascination for the culture of the Indian tribes he came across during his time in New Mexico.

He compares their ‘song to make the corn grow’ with that of the Hebridean fisherman, suggesting the Indian music is far less ‘pictorial, conceptual’, ‘singing without words or vision’.

Lawrence considered melody and orchestral music to represent the harmonising of individual emotion, while through the ‘incessant, insistent rhythm of the drum, which is pulsated like the heart’, the spirit of the Indians sends out a vibration in waves, which somehow seems to connect to ‘the germinating quick of the maize’.