Sunday, 3 March 2013

Thursday 28th February, 2013

Horrified to see that one of my blogs didn't publish this week. For what it's worth, here's what I wrote on Thursday, but forgot to put online...


I didn't sleep a wink last night. All sorts of thoughts were riding around my head like a game of Pacman. Just as I started to drift off to sleep, another cherry would appear behind a wall, and I'd rush off in pursuit. Fiona was sleeping on our sofa cushions and I got up in the night to talk to her. It all felt a little surreal, wrapped up in a blanket at 3am, talking through the dusty haze of the wee smalls. I eventually went to bed, and drifted off to sleep, listening to the song of what I think must have been a nightingale. 

I suppose I was worrying a little about money. The car cost £550 to  be repaired, and then, of course, when I went to pick it up, we were clobbered with a 20% VAT bill. I hate VAT. I hate paying it, and hate the fact that some rich people don't have to pay it at all. I've never understood how that works. It always feels like another way simply to make the rich richer.

I wanted to sleep all day, but instead worked hard at the Four Colours songs, marvelling at quite how much I've developed as a composer in the last couple of years. I'm much more of a minimalist when it comes to scoring. I like to see a lot more open space on the page, and can't believe how complicated and frilly the music I used to write seemed to be. I genuinely think this is the most important lesson any writer can learn; the need to continually strip back to reveal the power of a simple melody.

Of course this is  not to say that throwing everything at a page doesn't have its attractions and can't be quite exciting, but maybe this is the prerogative of an exuberant youth and I, with my creaking bones and aching feet am no longer young. 

Benny and Bjorn reached the 1980s - and their 40s - and suddenly started stripping back the orchestrations in ABBA songs alongside the scope of their melodies. Benny has often said that the power of The Winner Takes it All, one of their later compositions, lies in its profound melodic simplicity; two almost identical phrases, essentially, repeating again and again. By the time ABBA reached the end of the road even their trademark multi-layered backing vocals had started to vanish. 

I don't know much about the output and time-lines of less-significant European composers, you know, like Mozart but I'd be interested to know
if any of that lot became more sparse the older they got. One assumes the opposite is true of Beethoven whose orchestrations got bigger and bigger. Or did they? I've no idea... My friend Sam will be wincing. Literally wincing. I can see his knowledgeable toes curling up as he reads this. I appear to have based an entire thesis on my love of ABBA! And not for the first time! 

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