Monday, 21 June 2010

The longest of longest days

The longest day. And It’s been a terribly long day. We’re finally putting everything together in the studio but unfortunately things are not sounding too good. There are rough ends all over the place. Tuning is appalling. Some groups are playing almost a semi-tone sharper than others so that everything played at once sounds just awful. The strings en masse sound a bit like members of a junior orchestra; which frustrates me because they were the only professional players we engaged in the whole project. It also makes the entire walk-out episode during their session seem even more... well unprofessional. I say fair enough if you’ve played like Gods but if the noises you generate make it clear you haven't looked at the music in advance, then you have to be prepared to stay until you get it right.

Worse than this, even though we thought we'd been really careful with timings, recording everything to a click track, we discovered that in many cases, people are playing so so far away from each other in terms of the beat that at some points it sounds like all the musicians have entered some kind of echo chamber. At the moment, apart from the third movement, the whole thing is a cacophony. It's a proper mess and I have to take a great deal of the responsibility for this. In my defence, I suppose, we didn’t have the time to finesse anything we recorded - and musicians were being pushed to the very limits of their abilities - but once again, that comes back down to me. I really don't want to let the people of Yorkshire down.

Not everything is lost. There are obviously things we can do that will improve things, but all of these processes are horribly time consuming and I’m so tired right now that I can’t keep the spirits up in the recording studio. We have huge holes as well; specifically moments where I was forced to cut all the strings either because they played so badly or because they were playing so badly we ran out of time in the session. This leaves us with whole sections of woodwind music that now don't work out of context. So we have to think of alternatives; which include bringing in guitarists and other musicians to develop or pad out the sound. It’s moments like this that I wonder if I’ve been too ambitious and pushed the whole project over the edge. Perhaps some things just aren't achievable. I sincerely hope I’ll look back on today as the lowest point in the project.


Unfortunately I'm away from the studio for the next two days checking out locations with our cameraman, so all of this is going to be on my mind, niggling away, making me doubt myself continually. In life I've tried my hardest to continually push and push to make things bigger, better and more professional and I suppose I’m always waiting for the moment when I mess up and fall flat on my face because I’ve finally bitten off rather more than I can chew. I really hope I'll be able to pull something incredible out of the bag... Not just for me, but for all the musicians who have given us their time and worked like crazy people to be part of the most ambitious community project that surely can ever have been attempted.

Pepys spent the longest day of 1660 rushing around London in a typically Pepysian style. There was a trip to the King’s Great Wardrobe, which was situated between modern day Blackfriars and Mansion House. It was to become Montagu’s Grace and Favour London residence. Unfortunately when they got there, they discovered a group of poor children “in tawny clothes” who’d been living there for the past 11 years. These children were unceremoniously dispatched with a few gold coins to make way for Montagu and his grand lifestyle.

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