Wednesday, 18 July 2012

A humble son

I’ve just spent a long day in Worthing, mixing the Introit from the London Requiem. Out of all the movements we recorded its proving the most tricky to get right. It was the first movement we recorded in the choir sessions, and we hadn't yet found our rhythm, so there are some awful moments where everyone is being rather slap-dash with their consonants, there are balance problems, and a few tuning issues in some of the internal parts. The irony, of course, is that it took longer to record than any other movement, and was a piece that many of the choir had sung before. Perhaps because of this, we let down our guard.  I probably need to take most of the blame, however, for not spotting the problems as they tumbled past.

Still, after spending ten hours of studio time polishing the vocals, we're in a much better shape than we were this morning, and both Paul and I have a matching sense of where we now need to travel with the movement; from now on it’s a process of thinning the music out, picking out the weeds to allow the flowers to bloom. My ears are tired right now. I suspect I may well wake up in the morning and suddenly think we’ve created a sonic masterpiece.

It’s nice to be in Hove again, however. The soft sea air agrees with me. I took a walk down to the sea front this evening and watched the waves crashing onto the pebble beach. The window is open in Fiona’s flat and I can still hear them relentlessly going about their business. Meanwhile, the seagulls chatter like excited children in a playground.

350 years ago, Pepys continued to work like a trooper. He worked so late, in fact, that he was still at it when the sun went down, and had to finish his business by candlelight, which even he considered to be a little over-the-top. Cromwell is a controversial figure, but his stint in power did serve to make Britain more of a meritocracy. Pepys knew that, if he worked hard, he could earn good money, and gain social standing – he already had a series of clerks who answered directly to him - and this was a powerful motivator for the humble son of a tailor.

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