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The Soundtrack to School


I am fascinated by the music in my school. Every morning when I head into my JHS, there is an instrumental version of Danny Boy floating ethereally in the air (I have often joked that I can tell how late I am by whether he’s dead or if the pipes are still calling). I have asked around at the school, and none of the teachers have ever heard of ‘Danny Boy’.

During cleaning time, a riff on The Sorcerer’s Apprentice plays (I like to think of the students as the little animate brooms, especially when they’re carrying the buckets to and fro). Once again, I checked with the staff and none of them have heard of Dukas or even, gasp, Fantasia.

Sports Day, although but once a year, presents a smorgasboard of new songs, plucked from myriad sources (The Pirates of the Carribean theme being played over sixty kids skipping in unison being my favourite). Some of these songs are fairly new, certainly having been composed after the school was opened, and I can’t quite imagine my stoic (but kind) Honcho-Sensei kicking back with the soundtrack albums to all the latest big summer blockbusters, looking for that one song which, to him, screams ‘Tug-o-War’. And, besides, they used the same songs last year and he only started here in April.

So, this begs the question: who picks the school’s soundtrack?

I actually asked the Headmaster of my current school, who speaks near-impeccable English, whose job it is to pick these songs. He seemed not to know…or not to want to tell me? Is it, in fact, a massive conspiracy exactly who makes the music play.

I know there are the students who do the announcements and play some music at lunch, but I have a hard time picturing them all getting together of a morning and unanimously agreeing that a ballad about the impact of war on paternal bonding in the Irish diaspora is exactly what the school needs to hear of a morning. I wonder, do they even have Danny Boy on Spotify? Maybe they were searching for ‘David Guetta’, typed in ‘D-A-‘ and then discovered a whole new meaning to the phrase ‘depressing earworm’.

As for old Dukas and his dancing brooms, I like to think that they were searching Youtube for Disney songs in other languages (you know you’ve done it) and thus came across the only Disney film which truly defies linguistic boundaries- this is how I discovered Chernabog and his terrifying adventures on Bald Mountain.

As for the Sports Day music, I think it’s obvious that Disney, around the time they acquired Star Wars, Marvel and the Statue of Liberty itself, also bought an obscure Japanese Junior High School for reasons to nefarious to print. Stage one of the experiments involve jaunty tunes to which they just happen to own the rights, blasted at high volume while students vigorously exert themselves in the midday sun. What the end goal is, no one can say, but we know it involves a sizeable portion of the Marie Byrd Land glaciers.

Or I could be wrong and maybe there’s just a very savvy and, judging by their choices of music, somewhat soulful AV club student holed up near the weird DJ booth thing behind the staffroom. Or maybe the songs were put in place long before the current staff started working at the school and they can’t be bothered to change them.

I don’t have an answer for this, by the way. I’m more of a Mycroft than a Sherlock and the amount of legwork it would take to solve this case seems to me frankly distasteful. I would rather stick to my wild theories and umbral figures, running around the school unseen, making the music play, perhaps wearing a half-face mask and fetching opera cape?



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