Monday, 17 October 2011

Autumn winds blowing outside the window

We’ve been sitting in the house working all day. It’s 10pm and neither of us has stopped, except to eat at the kitchen table twice. I didn’t go to the cafe and now have a rather shocking case of cabin fever. We’re going to have to go for a walk, I suspect, or my legs may well up dancing in my sleep.
Because we haven’t been anywhere today, I don’t have anything to say. I’ve had a number of emails this week about my Requiem which seems to be piquing people’s interest without my actually having to big it up in any way. People find the concept of the piece fascinating. I just hope they’ll be as interested in the music itself.

That said, every time I hear it, I feel proud, even though it’s nothing but silly computerised noises at the moment. It’s tragic, but I sneak a listen every so often and allow myself to be taken into an imaginary world where I’m hearing the piece played by a full string orchestra on a recording made by Decca! It occurs to me that the juxtaposition between the traditional Latin text and the English additions (in the shape of the gravestone quotes) works quite well. Let’s face it, most people don’t really bother to listen to a text when they first hear a piece of music - particularly if it's in a foreign laguage. In most cases Latin words are destined to simply become musical mush. Your average Joe gets over-tired if he's forced to concentrate for too long, and after a while the music simply begins to wash over him. The odd word pops out, and this shapes his understanding for another minute or so. As such, I’m convinced that most people think the “dies” in “dies irae” means “dire” or “death” rather than simply “day.” All this, I feel, could work in my composition’s favour, as audiences might be more likely to tune in to the few passages that are sung in English, which are, of course, the heart of the work, and the bit that I feel people should be listening to more intently.

I continue to imagine who the people are whose graves appear in the work. What did they look like? Would I have liked them? Did they choose the quotes that appear on their head stones? Who was Yasi, buried in Brookwood Cemetery? I know he was 39 when she died. The only other thing I know about him is that her gravestone reads “...and we laughed, and laughed and laughed.” And isn’t that how we’d all want to be remembered?

350 years ago, Pepys was invited to a “venison pasty” which turned out to be a disappointing pasty of salted pork. I say disappointing but Pepys merely states the facts. A venison pasty was obviously a very special thing, however... As one seemed to be able to attend one, like one might attend a hog roast nowadays.

Pepys spent the afternoon in a Cook shop (a sort of cafe) with Captain Lambert. They talked about Portugal. It was where Catherine de Breganza, English Queen in waiting, was from, and as such had become a hot topic of conversation within wealthy society circles. The place was regarded as something of a back water, where they even refused to put glass in their windows (probably because the weather was considerably better...) The Portuguese King was apparently an incredibly rude, uncouth and lazy man. His daughter – the future Queen of England, was considered by many to be equally hideous! Oh dear...

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