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In this chapter we consider social experiences, relationships, and involvements, and how music may facilitate social attachment and affiliations in later life. Presented are the role of social support networks and coping mechanisms that help reduce stress. We also consider systems of community and social support, such as mentoring, community bands, and how music may offer a bridge between age and cultural groups. This discussion importantly acknowledges that through music we can practice social justice.
In 2014, James MacMillan established a music festival in his hometown of Cumnock, calling it The Cumnock Tryst. MacMillan has explained that the festival’s title was inspired by a simple love song he wrote in 1984 called ‘The Tryst’, setting a poem by William Soutar. So brief is this song that it might have fallen into obscurity. Yet its melody has infused no fewer than twelve works in MacMillan’s oeuvre, spanning over a quarter of a century. The scope of genres in which it appears is striking: from a folk song to an early orchestral tone poem; from a large-scale setting of the Christian passion to a congregational mass setting. Although MacMillan has reused musical material from numerous works, The Tryst is unarguably the most important and fruitful of these reincarnations, revealing the most significant degree of his self-retrospection. The broad variety of musical contexts in which the song features demands a range of interpretations to understand the various ‘meetings’ MacMillan proposes with each use of the melody, from the erotic, to the sacred, to the communitarian. By examining these ‘Trystian’ works, we may come to appreciate the extent to which this love song has permeated his career to date.
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