[PLAYLIST] The rainy-days playlist

Rain can be annoying... or inspiring. Sometimes it rains when you're least expecting it and the whole country gets wet feet. Let it rain! Since there's nothing else to do, here's a selection of 10 pieces to listen to as you watch the rain fall.

So, because the sun is obviously on strike too in May, because we know that rain is good for plants but a 3.10m high geranium is a bit much even so, because you've already run through three umbrellas this month, because not liking tennis is hardly a reason to sabotage Wimbledon... in short, for all of these reasons (and a few thousand others), here is the ultimate 10-track playlist of music that's perfect to listen to on a rainy day.

"A little tap at the window, as though some missile had struck it, followed by a plentiful, falling sound, as light, though, as if a shower of sand were being sprinkled from a window overhead; then the fall spread, took on an order, a rhythm, became liquid, loud, drumming, musical, innumerable, universal. It was the rain." * (Marcel Proust, *Swann's Way)

In Marcel Proust's In Search of Lost Time, he describes the rain in terms that reflect the narrator's mood or situation. The rain swells to a symphony, becomes an object of contemplation that is as magnificent as it is anecdotal, or is compared to the tears of childhood sadness: "like a fine, penetrating, icy rain, and seem as though never would they cease to flow".

That rain is musical, either because it underscores the notes produced or because it paints a sound scape: it is the same for composers. On one hand, music springs from the sound of rain falling; on the other, from rainy atmospheres and watching showers. There are raindrops falling (Chopin's Prelude No. 15, the "Raindrop Prelude"), rain falling in gardens (Jardins sous la pluie by Debussy), the signs of an imminent storm ("Winter" in Vivaldi's Four Seasons: "*while the rain outside pours in sheets") or a forest of droplets that fall and scatter (Rain Tree by Toru Takemitsu).

But the rain shower is also symbolic. Although it is often associated with sadness, as in Tränenregen (Shower of Tears) from The Maid of the Mill by Schubert ("Then tears welled in my eyes, / And the mirror dimmed. / She said: "It's going to rain, / Good bye! I'm going home."), it can also have a divine quality, especially in the Baroque period. This is the case in Johann Sebastian Bach's Cantata BWV 18: Just as the rain and snow fall from heaven... So shall the word, that goes forth from My mouth, be also; described as a sower whose word sprouts in believers' heart. This kindly view of rain is in stark contrast to the more commonly-held view at the time, in which rain and storms are sent by the gods to punish humans (such as in Platée by Rameau or Alcyone by Marais).

In this public lecture on Debussy's Gardens in the Rain, Yvonne Lefébure presents an Impressionistic, symbolic, musical view of rain when she says "Here's the rain... poetry... the rain continues...":

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