The Music Shop playlist by Rachel Joyce

Music is central to Rachel Joyce's latest novel The Music Shop – here are some of the key pieces that bring its pivotal moments to life

Double Violin Concerto by JS Bach

Later he switched on the Dansette and she played the Concerto for Two Violins in D Minor. She explained how the music worked like a conversation. Sometimes the violins were telling the same story, and sometimes they were having an argument; first, one led the way, then the other. They might be so close they were like a piece of braid, or so far apart they had to call for one another across the dark. This wasn’t like Vivaldi’s ‘Four Seasons’, when one instrument took centre stage and became (in Peg’s words) a right fucking show off. Bach’s Concerto for Two Violins was about learning to be two halves of a whole.

A Night to Remember by Shalamar

Henry didn’t know this music, he had no idea how you were supposed to dance to it, but as Mandy began swirling round and round, and he hovered close by – not exactly in her way, but in her general vicinity – he discovered a happy movement that struck him as a little like digging, without actually employing a spade. Now that he listened, he felt there was something irrepressibly good about this song, as if everything would be all right. More than that. As if everything was about to happen. Henry put down his spade and began swinging a pair of imaginary tassels. Meanwhile Mandy also seemed to have moved on to something different with her dancing. Hands clasped above her head, she rolled her hips as if she were riding a pony. A button on her blouse slipped loose and he saw the softness of her skin. Smelt the earthy sweetness of her.

‘And I’m filled with a love that’s oh so tender. Get ready. Tonight—’

He wasn’t thinking any more. He was just dancing. Henry lunged past the three-piece suite and grabbed hold of his wife.

God Save the Queen by The Sex Pistols

‘So this is “God Save The Queen” by The Sex Pistols. The song came out in ’77, the year of the Queen’s silver jubilee, when the whole country was planning a street party. And what it says is the future’s over. England’s lost the plot. It makes a mockery of establishment and royalty, but it’s also kind of witty in a really British way. Here was this group of four reprobates who could barely play. And they looked at everyone in their party hats, and they said the one thing no one was supposed to say. They said, Fuck the Queen.’   

Ilse Brauchmann sat, stunned. She even forgot she had a boiled egg. ‘The song got banned by the BBC and half the shops wouldn’t sell it but I played it all summer. I considered it a public service. Not that I have anything against the Queen – I like her – but it was important there was a place where the unsayable could still be said. And fair do’s to the Queen, I guess she agreed with me. She didn’t chop off John Lydon’s head or anything.’

Moonlight Sonata by Beethoven

She held up the new album cover. It showed – surprise, surprise – a full moon and some water. ‘I mean for fuck’s sake,’ said Peg.

‘So it isn’t about the moon?’

‘No! It’s a revolutionary piece. It’s crazy. It’s Beethoven taking the rules and snapping them in half. It’s not fast, slow, fast. It’s slow, fast, fuck off. It’s anarchy!’ Peg told the story of the ‘Moonlight’ Sonata. Beethoven had fallen in love with one of his students. He was a complicated man. Moody. Abused as a kid. No idea about things like personal hygiene. He was always falling in love with his students but this one was a countess and she was seventeen.

‘Then bam. A bombshell. Beethoven finds out two things. One: the countess is going to marry a count. Two: he – Beethoven, not the count – is going deaf. He is poleaxed. The man IS music. What will he be without it? So he pours all those feelings into his piano sonata and he dedicates it to Julia. It’s like rocket fuel. I mean, a full moon. For fuck’s sake.’

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