A Free Playlist of Music From The Works Of James Joyce (Plus Songs Inspired by the Modernist Author)


Last week we quot­ed a review that Carl Jung wrote of James Joyce’s Ulysses in which the psy­chol­o­gist called the labyrinthine mod­ernist nov­el an “aes­thet­ic dis­ci­pline.” Jung’s phrase can describe equal­ly the reader’s expe­ri­ence and Joyce’s own high­ly sophis­ti­cat­ed artistry. The author him­self pro­duced a detailed schema of Ulysses’ struc­ture for his friend Stu­art Gilbert: in addi­tion to pri­ma­ry fields of ref­er­ence like human biol­o­gy and col­or sym­bol­ism, Joyce con­nects each chap­ter to a par­tic­u­lar “art”—theology, rhetoric, archi­tec­ture, and med­i­cine, to men­tion but a few. But for all this rig­or­ous schema­ti­za­tion of each episode, music spills out into every chap­ter and ful­ly per­me­ates the nov­el: adver­tis­ing jin­gles, hymns, sonorous high ora­to­ry, sen­ti­men­tal bal­lads, brood­ing folk songs…. Joyce heard music every­where.

And it’s no sur­prise, giv­en that the nov­el­ist once aspired to a career as a per­former. Joyce com­posed his own songs, played piano and gui­tar, sang in his high tenor, and cham­pi­oned the work of fel­low Irish­man and tenor John Sul­li­van. He was also, again unsur­pris­ing­ly, a schol­ar of music. Sun­phone Records, which released a two-vol­ume set called Music From the Works of James Joyce, remarks that he had an “ency­clo­pe­dic mas­tery of music of every type and genre, rival­ing his vast knowl­edge of world lit­er­a­ture. As a writer, he nev­er­the­less incor­po­rat­ed music into all his works in increas­ing­ly com­plex ways.” (For detailed info on the music that inspired Joyce, vis­it the Sun­phone Records site and click through the links.)

Music From the Works of James Joyce com­piles many of the songs Joyce allud­ed to in his poems, sto­ries, and nov­els (such as music-hall bal­lad “Finnegan’s Wake”). It also includes Joyce’s own work—his col­lec­tion of poems, Cham­ber Music—giv­en “musi­cal set­tings” by com­pos­er Ross Lee Finney. Inspired by this enlight­en­ing col­lec­tion of Joyce’s favorite music, blog­ger ulysse­s­tone of Spo­ti­fy Clas­si­cal Playlists com­piled the playlist above of all the songs avail­able to stream. This playlist includes not only songs that influ­enced the author, or were writ­ten by him; ulysse­s­tone also added sev­er­al songs that Joyce inspired, such as Syd Barrett’s “Gold­en Hair,” based on a poem from Cham­ber Music, Kate Bush’s “Flower of the Moun­tain,” based on Mol­ly Bloom’s final solil­o­quy, and Jef­fer­son Airplane’s “Rejoyce,” a “high­ly selec­tive cap of Ulysses.” John Cage’s Roara­to­rio appears, as does the work of sev­er­al oth­er Joyce-inspired clas­si­cal com­posers.

The playlist begins with the voice of James Joyce, not singing alas, but read­ing from Ulysses’ “Eolian” episode. DJ Spooky (alias of Paul D. Miller) mix­es the author’s voice with Erik Satie’s Gnossi­ennes. To hear the unadul­ter­at­ed Joyce read­ing, check out our post on the only two record­ings of his voice.

Note: If you need to down­load Spo­ti­fy in order to hear the playlist, you can find/download the soft­ware here.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

James Joyce Reads From Ulysses and Finnegans Wake In His Only Two Record­ings (1924/1929)

James Joyce Plays the Gui­tar, 1915

Carl Jung Writes a Review of Joyce’s Ulysses and Mails It To The Author (1932)

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness

by | Permalink | Comments (2) |

Sup­port Open Cul­ture

We’re hop­ing to rely on our loy­al read­ers rather than errat­ic ads. To sup­port Open Cul­ture’s edu­ca­tion­al mis­sion, please con­sid­er mak­ing a dona­tion. We accept Pay­Pal, Ven­mo (@openculture), Patre­on and Cryp­to! Please find all options here. We thank you!

Comments (2)
You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

Leave a Reply

Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.