reserved space Biography of Fuengsin Trafford

Her Musical Tastes

It has been said (by Ven. Sangharakshita, I think) that music is useful for refining the emotions, so it is interesting to examine people’s record collections in light of this statement. Fuengsin’s was a veritable mixture: she brought over from Thailand a collection of very traditional Thai music, including classical ballads and traditional folk. Many of these told a tale and I guess that Mum would often reminisce about her childhood.

In time, Mum became acquainted with Western music - both popular and classical and this endured as she tuned in to ‘Sounds of the Sixties’ on Radio 2 - sounds to which she had been introduced as a student in London during ‘63/’64. It was generally music with lightness and vitality that she preferred, be it pop or classical. Of the classical composers she enjoyed Mozart, Chopin and Tchaikovsky, rather than Wagner, which always proved a bit too heavy.

But what particularly became her mainstay in later life was an offering from further West - across the Atlantic, in fact: Country and Western. So on Thursday evenings she would tune into Country Club on Radio 2 which was presented by Wally Whyton and tape her favourite songs (although she claimed she was a bit of a technophobe she could manage quite well with the equipment if she needed to). Her interest may have been met with tepid indifference by her husband and son, but she got a very enthusiastic response from the window cleaner, who just happened to be a mate of Wally Whyton! He supplied tapes and information about relevant programmes on BRMB, Beacon Radio and Radio Wyvern, all local radio stations and would bring back news of his trips to Nashville.

This might seem a million miles away from serene solitude in the forest or mountains, which are more common images of the devoted Buddhist. Are not peace and quiet more conducive to progress? Maybe. Certainly, Fuengsin related that she had problems in sitting meditation due to tunes playing in her head, but such debris is common to virtually all minds. And Mum was told by a Thai monk that attachment to crude objects is more serious than attachment to refined objects. Indeed when her concentration increased at the centre of her body, her mind would have been well beyond such distraction.

- Paul

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