Ideas for funeral music & choosing musicians

Selecting funeral music that captures the essence of someone who has died can seem like an insurmountable task, even for those who really knew the person well and who appreciated their musical preferences.

Ideas for funeral music

Of course, we can be guided by the funeral director who will advise on the most appropriate music and help with choosing musicians for the type of funeral involved. But, ultimately, those nearest and dearest are best placed to decide on the most fitting musical tribute that will truly encapsulate and celebrate the life of the deceased.

Choosing musicians

The choice of music and musical performers is largely dictated by the nature and format of the service and whether the funeral is religious or secular. However, it is important to bear in mind, when choosing musicians and music for a funeral, that the musical input should, first and foremost, aim to celebrate the life and personality of the deceased in the most dignified and sensitive manner possible. A Christian funeral service, for instance, will focus essentially on the religious interpretation of death and afterlife. The music and hymns chosen will reflect these Christian beliefs and observances, although most religious services will also accommodate an element of secular music, provided it is played or sung outside the actual religious service; for example, before the service starts or at the end.

Non-religious ceremonies – contemporary ideas for funeral music

Humanist, secular and civil funerals, on the other hand, will always embrace a wider diversity of secular, popular or spiritually-oriented music and songs which may have been particularly relevant to the deceased; the focus throughout, is on remembering the person who has died, in the context of music that they enjoyed during their lifetime.

Ideas & musical inspiration

A live instrumental or solo musical performance by a friend, relative or acquaintance will add a profoundly personal and poignant touch to the proceedings. Alternatively, one might consider engaging professional musical artistes to perform at the funeral service. Popular options include vocalists, opera singers, harpists, pipers, classical instrumentalists, jazz musicians, bagpipers, or even a full string quartet. With religious funerals, there is always the option of asking the choir, organist or a soloist if they are available to perform during the service and lead the hymn singing.

Find musicians for the funeral service

For more information on specialist funeral music providers and musicians, please click on the following links on this website: Musicians for funerals.

Practical issues

For those who choose to play recorded music at the funeral, it is advisable to check with the funeral service venue that the music system is of sufficient quality to do justice to your selection of music. Unfortunately, not all funeral reception venues or crematoria have state-of-the-art musical systems installed and the musical output may, therefore, be disappointing.

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