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Parchment of Leaves-Voice of the Mountains By Silas House
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A Parchment of Leaves
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A Brief Glance at Music in A Parchment of Leaves By Silas House
Since the earliest settlers sundered their way into the dense woodlands of the Appalachians, music has been an integral thread in what is the ever so intricate fabric of regional culture. As such it is almost essential for anyone looking to provide an anywhere-near accurate depiction of the daily lives of mountain folk to include music as major element. Often though, authors (particularly those not from the region) fail to properly reflect what is a wonderfully multi-faceted musical tradition. They instead tend to fall back on the always dependable and ever entertaining “woo-bow-y” drunken hootenanny stomp banjo fest that has become so proliferative in modern media-no doubt largely thanks to a certain alcoholic Southern writer.
It is refreshing then to see that Silas House has been careful to incorporate a wide range of musical styles into A Parchment of Leaves . Moreover, he has been prudent in showing that music served a vital and necessary role in the lives of his characters. Music was an ever present and powerful force for the people of the mountains. From the aforementioned drunken “pickin & grinnin” sessions to the rapturous throes of the Holy Spirit, music is the affinity that binds sinners and saints all.
It is interesting to note that even beyond setting the underlying tone for the regional culture presented in the book, music is critical in the character development for Vine. It is Aaron’s persistent strumming and seeming artistic flair that early on blinds her from his truer, more malevolent nature. Serena’s crowd silencing vocal prowess captures the attention of Vine and brings about what is arguably the most significant relationship Vine has in terms of preserving her own well being. For as much as music serves as a cultural bridge for Vine it is also at times a segregating factor. Take for instance the Easter church service Vine and Saul attend with Esme. Vine, although curious and reasonably respectful of it, finds the parishioners haughty embrace of musical celebration into their religious ceremonies to be more than a bit alienating.
What Silas House has done best with music in Parchment is to make it so much more than just a character all itself. He has managed to so seamlessly weave it amongst the backdrop of the book that the true essence of music as a figure in Appalachian life is presented almost perfectly. Music isn’t an incidental happening occasionally stumbled across in life. It is life. The ballads-the jigs- the lullabies-the hymns; these are details so salient in the lives of these folk that they just as soon be the crisp, invigorating mountain air they breathe.
Silas House reads from A PARCHMENT OF LEAVES
Johnny Cash Interview from "The Appalachians"
- The Appalachian Region - Appalachian Regional Commission
The Appalachian Region, as defined in ARC's authorizing legislation, is a 205,000-square-mile region that follows the spine of the Appalachian Mountains from southern New York to northern Mississippi.
- Appalachia - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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