Thursday, 24 June 2010


Today we began the enormous task of working through the symphony in detail. Sadly, we’re having to do an incredible amount of remedial work; there’s some kind of mistake on almost every single instrument in almost every single bar. Part of me hates having to spend all this time mopping up. Musicians at all levels can be fairly arrogant and assume all too often that they're making a wonderful noise regardless of the reality. Some came out of the studio moaning, saying things like; "he made me do it over and over again until it was perfect". Well, yes, that's my job! But it shouldn't be my job to make people who couldn't be bothered to practice sound like mini-virtuosos! Unfortunately, I have to, because I don't want anyone to feel rubbish and I refuse to allow the overall quality of the piece to be brought down by a few rogue elements. Things are slowly beginning to come together, however, and for the first time I think Hazel the engineer got a sense of what this piece could be. I had a few rushes of excitement as well, but the bottom line remains that we only have three more days left in the studio and there is an almost bewildering amount to do. I have requested that Hazel and Simon do split days from now on. If needs be, I’ll be in the studio from 9am til midnight. This work is gathering so much steam that nothing short of perfection will now do!

The highlight of today was definitely recording the wonderful Bhupinder Chaggar playing the tabla. Watching him tuning his drums with a tiny metal hammer was almost hypnotic. He had a i-phone application which played the droning sound of a tempura, and used that to tune to a G and a D to fit in with the music that we’d asked him to play. He is a true master of the instrument and I feel hugely privileged to have him involved in the piece.

This evening, after we’d finished in the studio, I walked all the way home from Leeds 13 to my apartment near the station. It took over an hour, but the sunshine was intense, and I felt as happy as Larry.

Tomorrow, I’m heading back to London for the weekend. It’s the last break I’ll get before I deliver the symphony and I can’t wait. I’m missing Nathan rather a lot and am looking forward to snuggling up on the sofa with a pizza watching crappy telly. I’m also almost desperate for a bath. This shower-only thing is beginning to make my muscles ache!

Pepys started his day 350 years ago with a morning draft at Harper’s Tavern in Whitehall. Curiously, he also brought a pair of gloves there. Perhaps a peddler was wandering around with a bag full of things to sell, or maybe taverns in those days doubled as mini-bazaars. Not much else happened during the day. It was a Sunday, and Pepys spent much of his time wondering around London looking for his master like a lost puppy. He went to church, met up with friends, laughed at some “simple” letters written by his friend Lieutenant Lambert, but there was really only one thing on his mind; the prestigious job he was soon to start as Clerk of the Acts.

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