Entries for Jan 2013
Listen to it here:
Golden... is a piece I've written about before, but it was in a comment on Facebook. What I said then mostly holds true now, so I'll re-use: I wrote the song when I was about 18 or 19. I know this because when I found it just over ten years later, it had my handwriting of that time and my name at the top. But when I found it I didn't understand it. I am looking at the original now—and I still do not understand it as I wrote it then.
From what I can gather, when I was 19 I was actually much smarter than I am now, and really into connecting harmonies in different keys using web-like structures. When I look at them now they remind me of boron cage structures, and that would align right with my degree days; but I did not know about boron cages at the time when I wrote it.
It took me days to decipher what I'd first written. I remember writing it down on a scrap of paper and swore I'd never lose it in case I ever had to explain it again—but I've moved house many times since then. I'm never going to find that scrap of paper. But I still have the original, so if anyone wants I'll try and work through it again!
What's really interesting for me was that as I was re-scoring this I realised that it'd be pretty difficult for me to write like this now—it's like a totally different voice... but SOUNDS familiar.
Anyway, when I was putting together the music for Argentum I felt I needed a driving, optimistic song [I think it sounds optimistic, anyway]. I was listening through my old MIDI files and found two work-throughs of Golden... and thought "wow. how does THAT work?"
I then searched for my old folder with all the scraps of paper and found my mad teenage notes and just shook my head. But it sounded like the song I needed to finish the gig, so I worked between my notes and the MIDI file to transcribe it in my old notation software. I then handed it over to the group.
I have to be honest, I'm still not sure if I get exactly how it works in a functional harmonic sense. But I still feel it works from a musical sense.
At some points the different harmonies just reduce to the same chord, but some parts are definitely polytonal.
Anyway, if you feel like playing it, please download the PDFs! I've produced transposed melody parts too.
Although I updated the score for it last week, I didn't talk about Bereft specifically. But today marks the anniversary of the death of the person for whom it was written.
Here are all the recorded versions: the download also includes the score, in concert and transposed versions.
In 2002 Bernadette Coles was killed while crossing the road after work, by someone who was driving while using a mobile phone. Because we'd had a bit of a disagreement a few days before, I didn't find out until a few days later. At the time I was distraught: Bernie and I used to hang out all the time and chat on MSN [remember doing that?], and were just really good friends. She had a great effect on people and her friends and I know there are a bunch of us that still miss her—we keep in touch.
At the time I had no real way of expressing how I felt, so I wrote three songs. One of them has never been played; the other used to be played by my old quartet and once with Josh when he used to live in Derby; but Bereft was first played on 23rd February 2002, with Walt and Tracey Hague [previously Sutcliffe].
I then stopped playing it, as I found I could not play it. I felt almost detached from the meaning of the song, and thus practised it—playing the melody on the piano or singing it in quiet moments, and reading.
I re-visited it in 2007, first in January with Robert Mitchell for our first ever duo gig; then in March that year for Argentum, with words written by Deborah Jordan. I don't remember telling anyone what the song was about: I thought it better to have people interpret it as they wished. The only thing I asked at the time was that people understood what the word "bereft" meant.
I hesitated playing it again, after the Argentum gig. At the time I felt I perhaps moved on. But then in 2011 I played it with Robert for the Adventures In Sound gig in November; and I felt more at home with the piece, more able to find the voice I needed to use for the song; and hearing it reminds me of Bernie but in a more positive way than previously. It is a love song, but not of the romantic nature; and it does not have to be sung.
I hope you enjoy listening/playing it as much as I do now.
A really nice write-up of the Orrery gig!
A great interview with friend and fantastic pianist/composer Alex. Required reading!
A couple of years ago I created a few pieces based on some of the writings in Kahlil Gibran's Madman. They were personal, really; the recording quality is quite hazy. But this one sounds thereabouts fine, so I thought I'd share it.
It's an electroacoustic piece, which takes me back! Would love to start working in this vein again.
That's right—I've set a date for the CD release of don't overthink it. You can still download it—but if you're keen to get your hands on something more tangible, then put in an order now and it will wing its way to you when it's out!
Many thanks to everyone who's checked out the music so far.
Got to see the Orrery DVD yesterday. It looks amazing! It was also the first time I'd heard the the first half, and was really pleased with it. Not sure when it'll be ready, but if you sign up as a Friend of Derby Jazz, they'll send you a copy for free: you'll also be helping them keep going!