Music has long been an important part of cultures across the globe. From ancient civilizations to modern times, the power of music continues to evoke our emotions.
While most people consider music as entertainment, it cannot be denied that music has remained an integral part of most cultures when saying farewell to our loved ones.
Honouring those who died remained the central theme of ancient civilizations. One major part of honouring the tragic demise in a family would be the use of music to convey the heavy grief left behind.
Ancient Greek women, for example, would often wail and sing their sadness into the air, rendering it heavy with melancholy and painting the void left behind.
While times have changed, the use of funeral songs hasn’t. There are many examples in modern cultures of expressing emotions through this medium, such as:
- Jazz funeral marches of New Orleans
- Dancing pallbearers of Ghana
- The Haka dance of the Maori people of New Zealand
- Modern funeral string quartets, popular in Western nations
These examples give us a look into this tradition of letting the solemn tunes of funeral processions pay respect to those that have left our material world.
And thus, it is very important to decide on the right music to elicit emotions that would perfectly portray those who have passed away.
The Importance of funeral music
Music has a strange hold on us. Throughout our lives, we go on associating various songs with our emotions, our styles and our identities. These experiences get interwoven with our memories, bringing nostalgia when we hear a certain song—our song—because we’ve lived with it all our lives.
The same holds true for funeral music: a consolation and a chance to revisit memories associated with the loved-ones we lost, bringing respite through joyful moments shared together.
We’ve often written about the power of stringed instruments in music, such as the violin, viola and cello. Already a representative of melancholic notes, violins (especially in a funeral string quartet) have the power to completely unearth sorrowful emotions from within.
Thus, in a funeral planning—despite the limited amount of time to process and persevere—the right funeral music can make all the difference, giving us a sense of comfort while filling the void when we find ourselves at a loss for words.
Without any emotional notes to carry you, the silence can feel deafening, amplifying the absence of those we give our respects and final goodbyes to.
How to choose the right funeral music?
Preparations in planning a funeral go hand-in-hand with those of selecting the right music. Hiring a funeral string quartet is an easy choice to set the mood of the procession.
Of course, deciding on the right kind of music requires you to take care of the following:
- Consider the departed
Many families take into consideration the kind of music that their loved-one used to like. This can range from various genres, such as jazz or classical. If they ever had expressed a desire to have a certain genre of music to be played, this is the time to honour it as a final tribute to them.
- What was their personality?
This happens to be a great starting point when deciding on the funeral string music. Reflect on highs of your loved-one’s life. What did they accomplish? Was there a turning point, which transformed them drastically? What kind of a person were they?
These questions can help you narrow down the kind of tone that’s to be achieved: one that describes—through delicate and mellow notes—the kind of person they were, while also setting a metaphorical umbrella during the whole scenario, in order to reinforce and cherish the memories that family and friends shared with them.
- It doesn’t have to be sorrowful
Music—especially for a wake or a funeral—is often expected to be melancholic. But that is not true. When you look at other cultures, you will find that death is marked as a celebration: the passing of the soul from this world of hardship into a better one. Life is a celebration, so shouldn’t death be as well?
This holds true if your loved-one believed in living life to the fullest. To match their personality’s tone, consider choosing uplifting music to send others into an easy mood, reminiscing the good days spent with a joyful soul, brimming full of life.
There are many classical songs that a funeral string quartet can perform, which are teeming with energy and a sense of happiness. Jazz, too, can be a great alternative to mark your loved-one’s departure with riveting notes. Our string quartet can play many jazz tracks.
- What kind of service do you have?
Our string quartet for hire can perform all genres including religious music, classical music, reflective music, romantic music, modern pop music, folk music, jazz – the list goes on. We’ll do our best to cater for your needs.
We’ll perform suitable background music while guests arrive and are seated.
When the procession begins, we can perform a suitable song for the entry, such as ‘Air On The G String’ by Bach—setting a reflective mood for the service.
We can perform your loved one’s favourite songs during the service as required, for example during the reflection and/or slideshow.
The service can conclude with a farewell song, for example ‘A Time to Say Goodbye’ by Sarah Brightman and Andrea Bocelli.
Similarly, Pachelbel’s ‘Canon in D’ can serve as a lovely backdrop during the wake (and is a great choice for live classical music for wakes), when everyone leaves their remembrances and goodbyes for the departed.
The language that touches the heart
A good string quartet for funerals plays an important role in providing an unspeakable comfort to the bereaved, while serving as an expression of the departed’s life and the impact they left on everyone. This closing chapter in your loved-one’s journey deserves the best – a musical performance that honours their life.
At String Musicians Australia, we believe in bringing hearts together to honour and celebrate the life of your loved-one, having performed for hundreds of funerals and wakes in Australia since 2011.
It would be our honour to celebrate the life of your loved one.
Article by Hussain Delhvi and Jennen Ngiau-Keng