A few weeks ago I was a groomsman for a good friend’s wedding ceremony. It’s the first time I’ve ever had the honor of participating so closely in a wedding, as my spouse and I opted for a small reception without all the trappings and trimmings.
Humans have a penchant for marking important events with music, from our earliest ancestors all the way through the practice of commissioning music for important events. But our earliest fusions of music with ceremony are believed have been closely linked to rituals, as mundane as giving thanks for a successful foraging mission or as singular as a young person’s passage into adulthood. Perhaps this is the root of all opera and music drama.
The wedding itself was an interesting marriage of traditional ritual with modern technology. While the groomsmen were getting dressed (and recovering from a prior evening of revelry and high spirits), I put together playlists on a MacBook for the guests’ arrival, the processional, and also post-reception party music; a live band played during the ceremony and the reception, mixed and monitored by an engineer on a small handheld tablet. The mixture of live music with recordings—and of cherished, familiar music with the live band’s original material—was a natural extension and enhancement of a particular tradition rather than a rebuke.
What kind of other experiences or life-junctures have you or your family celebrated (or weathered through) with music playing an important element? And what role, if any, has technology played in these musical events?