Monday, January 22, 2007

Dies Irae Rises Again--to Rap. Hmmmmmm....

A few years ago, the Latin Liturgy Association published an item in which they claimed to have found over 80 musical quotations of the opening musical motif of the Gregorian Chant Dies Irae.

At that time it was over 80. It may be well past that today. Brahms, Rachmaninoff, and many others "classical" composers have used it. Britten used the tune in his own way--backwards and upside-down, as the opening motif for the Dies Irae in his War Requiem.

Shortly after the article was published, I heard the theme in the first violins of the orchestral score behind the scene where Papa Lion dies in Disney's Lion King--but that's not likely the only "non-classical" quotation used in the LLA study at the time.

And it's back, again!!

Yesterday, you saw a Nike commercial featuring a number of basketball players who were rapping.

Yup. The orchestral music behind them was the Dies Irae.

By the way, the text of the Dies Irae is not exactly heartwarming. It is a classic memento mori for those who have ears to hear.

And, yes, it may be used for funeral Masses, even in the Novus Ordo.


Anonymous said...

I'm glad to see someone else noticed the Dies Irae in the "Second Coming" Nike commercial. I blogged about it here. If you get the chance, please check out what I wrote.

I'm surprised they only found 80 musical quotations of Dies Irae. It's a very, very important icon in the history of music.

Judging by the number of hits I'm getting, however, Nike advertising and basketball shoes are hugely important to our culture. Lots of people - young ones I assume - want to know who did that music (someone named Juelz Santana). Hardly anyone recognizes the melody or knows what it means.


Anonymous said...

I recognized it. I did wonder what the hell Nike was doing with it--though i can't be too shocked. Obviously they just had enough of O Fortuna.