Choosing funeral music

Abbey Road Final Fling funeral

Beatles moment for Final Fling

When it comes to choosing funeral music, there are no rules, lots of options and plenty of help from Final Fling.

Beatles or Beethoven? Elbow or Elgar? King Singers or Kings of Leon? Frankie Vaughan or Frankie Goes to Hollywood?

Get Final Fling’s Top 10s for ideas for choosing funeral music:

These cover:

Funerals, memorials and life celebrations these days are as likely to feature disco divas as death marches. Monty Python’s tongue-in-cheek Always Look on the Bright Side may be your idea heaven or hell.

The best thing is to chat to those closest and involved in arrangements to try and settle on a ‘playlist’ that works for everyone.

Capture your favourites on your Wishes in Final Fling so others know what you like. Your idea of an uptempo number might be just the thing to set the tone but at the time of loss, it might be harder for others to make that call.

Tips for choosing funeral music

Think about mood and tone throughout the ceremony and build a simple soundtrack of four or five pieces of music or songs that allow for celebration, reflection, grief, goodbyes… maybe even joy and laughter.

You may also want to think about music for the wake or after-funeral gathering… a ‘mixed tape’ that allows for some reflection and some celebration. See 3 classics that work well in the mix. Think about live music too. There’s some great Scottish funeral music… like Highland Cathedral (also popular for weddings). Somehow bagpipes and traditional instruments feel very poignant.

Timing funeral music

A  Traditional Funeral  in a crematorium lasts 30 minutes. You can use that time whatever way you want but if you’re sticking with the usual convention, these are the typical elements of a funeral or ceremony in a crematorium to help you think about music length and timing.

We’ve marked slots where you’re likely to be choosing music for a funeral. Depending on how many elements you have, each music slot will be around 2-3 mins long.

1. Guests arrive – MUSIC
2. Words of welcome
3. Music/ reading – MUSIC
4. Person’s story
5. Reflection – MUSIC
6. Reading/words
7. Commital (when the curtains close / coffin is lowered ) – MUSIC
8. Guests depart – MUSIC

See our guide to who does what at a funeral.

More resources for choosing funeral music

See Songs for Funerals or Funeral Helper for a library of funeral music and hymns.

Get more ideas from The Guardian’s Six Songs of Me.

Copyright and recorded music

Depending on the crematorium or venue and how up to date their music system is, you may need to have a copy of the original music to be allowed to play it. The wonder of Amazon is that you can download just the one track and make up your own ‘mixed tape’ for a fueneral. If you are supplying a CD, the crematorium usually expects you to provide the disc at least 24 hours before to check it works on their system. You should have all the music clearly marked on it with any instructions on timing.