Wednesday, April 29, 2015

25: Revelation Song - Jennie Lee Riddle/Kelanie Gloeckler

Although a relatively recent song - 2009 or so depending on which version you prefer, Jennie Lee Riddle wrote the original - the concept is as old as any music we know about today. Howard Goodall's generally excellent 'Story Of Music' TV series explored what we know about ancient music, which is actually quite a lot in terms of instruments, performance and even competitions - but nothing about what it actually sounded like. The earliest music where we actually know how it sounds seems to be from the late Roman period, when 'plainchant' - monastic singing of various scriptures set to straightforward tunes - began and has been handed down through the generations prior to written or recorded music, so we actually know what it sounded like and what the tunes were.

Which isn't to say that the Revelation Song is plainchant, far from it - musically it's based on western chords and harmonies - but I love the idea that the concept hasn't changed. Take some words (inspirational if possible) from an ancient source, set it to a simple, repetitive, memorable tune and bam, there's your song. In this case, most of the words are taken from the book of Revelation at the end of the Christian New Testament. The music itself is interesting, however, and that's why it's in this list.

It starts (depending on the version you listen to) with a D major chord, and off you go thinking the song is in D. Second line, however, it shifts to A-minor of all places, not one you associate with D (A major perhaps, but not A minor), then up to C, then down to G... aaah I see, we were in G major the whole time! Next phrase, we're back to D and the thing repeats. In fact, that four chord sequence continues for the entire song - that's it, nothing else - but the curiousity of feeling like you're in D when you're actually in G holds it together surprisingly well.

Meantime the vocal soars in the chorus, another one of those that feels like your soul is welling up and exploding out (see 'From The Inside Out' at number 33), and the version in the video above by Kelanie Gloeckler (who had a couple of her own songs on the long-list that didn't quite make it) has a step-up from A-minor to C via an A-B-C bassline walk that again feels like the gear-shift thing from Like You Promised (number 27). The whole thing simply adheres together to give you the idea of what it would be like to catch a glimpse, just a glimpse, of a glorious heavenly other-world which is as beautiful as it is different.

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