A Royal Pageant for TOK purposes:

A pageant without music is very dull affair.

Students starting the Arts module of TOK are asked, amongst other statements, to comment on this: “Without music, life would be a mistake” Nietzsche. The discussion usually takes a while to get going, but generally provokes plenty of comment aimed at opening up the discussion of what Art is for.
I was reminded of this during the coverage of the Royal Pageant yesterday afternoon. Now, before I go on:
i) I am a monarchist with nothing other than respect for The Queen
ii) I know that I could have braved the awful weather and attended in person
iii) I know that the Queen is addressed as HM, not HRH, unlike some fool on the coverage.
So what is irking me more than anything?
TOKKISTS might want to reflect on the language of the day. “Iconic” was the mot de jour, closely followed by endless references to the music barges. These barges were, however, utterly absent from the coverage until the very end. The LPO, David Parry and the most bedraggled group of music students ever seen at a Royal event were given ten minutes of glory in the pouring rain, once everyone had gone home. How hollow it sounded, especially since the commentary was focused entirely on the fact that the “wow” moment had been cancelled.
It certainly had.

Words are not enough to generate emotion in this case. Film of slow moving boats in the rain holds only so much allure. Whilst the cameras visited the banal Tess Daly in Battersea park or focused on some slightly bemused parents – not to mention babies – in St Thomas’ Hospital, the boats crawled past. Commentators either flagged their ignorance of the route – the semaphore atop Butler’s Wharf being my favourite example – or simply returned again and again to the same hyberbolic statements telling us how awed we were, or at least we should have been.
What if the music barges had been used? Music does have the power to inspire emotion in its own right. Music can speak to us in a way that empty words can not. Music makes us laugh and cry. The BBC silenced the music. Remember that this was not just “highbrow” classical music either – The BBC seemed keen to airbrush all the music from their coverage. What of the non classical groups? Men and women inspired to give their energy to the pageant and then removed from the perception of millions. What price cameras in the music barges? A sound feed? Even, whisper it gently, five minutes of music accompanying film of the event itself. Instead, we heard voices telling us how iconic the event was and then displaying utter ignorance of the significance of even the Dunkirk Little Ships.

For my Yr12, there’s a TOK presentation in here somewhere; for anyone chancing on this – I hope it does not seem like too much of an ill-considered rant.

The BBC let me down on Sunday, but hopefully I’ll get some good work from it in the end.

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3 Comments

Filed under IBDP support, IBDP:TOK

3 responses to “A Royal Pageant for TOK purposes:

  1. muddepaws

    Hi Jonathan, I couldn’t agree with you more. The BBC was really struggling to “make television” and it cannot all be blamed on the rain. Interviewees who actually had something to say were cut short or had words put into their mouths through banal questions (I am thinking of the war veterans and the artists on the bridge).

    There was a lot that could have been said with regard the history of the river and of many of the boats, but instead we were “treated” to a ghastly “horrible history” and a lot of self-indulgent twaddle.

    The music, as you say, was almost non-existent. There was a lot of talk about the music barges, but viewers were not allowed to see and hear the music barges in a way in which we could appreciate them.

    For me the highlight of the event was when we did get a musical snippet and saw Prince Charles tapping his heels and doing a very restrained jig, clearly showing his pleasure with the music at the time.

    It would have made far better television to silence many of the inane and self-indulgent commentators and allow viewers to see and, more importantly, hear the music of the procession.

  2. celticgirl

    Yes, I did wonder where the music disappeared to too…all the orchestra and choir barges they kept harping (excuse the pun!) on about – and why wasn’t there a fanfare when HM’s barge pulled out to join the flotilla? Thought the whole idea was fantastic…a real spectacle, but yes, the BBC was scraping the bottom of the barrel with those commentators!

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