Tuesday, 21 May 2013


I'm on the Northern Line heading north from Clapham Common after a day spent in the studio, recording music for the White City project. The session started with the wonderful Sam Swallow, keyboardist with the Hoosiers, who tinkled the ivories with extreme precision. Sam lives in White City and is the musician in residence in Bob the vicar's church, so it very much made sense to invite him to play piano on the tracks. I had no idea his playing would be so beautiful, however. He managed to make the piano sound like a symphony orchestra and seemed to   understood implicitly what it was that my music required. It is very rare that I find myself moved by piano playing, but there was a sadness in his touch which made my eyes prickle. 

We worked through lunch. My dear friend Rachel popped her head into the studio to do a quick hour recording a piano line for the Four Colours piece. We dashed out for a quick mouthful of lunch, and then returned to find Mustafa from the Egypt House on the estate waiting to record his solo, which he did very well, although I felt like a proper slave master; "do it again... Again... Again... Now once more with feeling!" There's a fair amount of tweaking and pulling around that will need to be done in post to make everything sound lovely but I certainly think we've got enough material to make that happen.

After Mustafa left, I recorded some more piano parts for White City, which I found a deeply stressful experience. I'm not a pianist, and find playing in strict time to a click track a little unnerving. You think you're doing so well, and then hear yourself and wonder why you ever put yourself in the firing line. Julian insisted that I persisted, believing firmly that a composer playing his own music brings a unique vibe and integrity to a song. He might be right. I just wish I had a better vibe! 

So, I've come home feeling a little disconsolate; like things could have gone more smoothly, partcularly as they started on such a high with Sam this morning. I'm also rather dreading tomorrow as I have a ridiculously early start which involves taking Nathan to Heathrow at 6am, before a day of strings at Sonica, which itself is a prelude to the mayhem of Thursday; a 12-hour session at Bush Studios where up to 80 White City residents will have their voices and instruments recorded. God help me! 

Someone with rather silly, heavy hair is standing by the door on this tube and I genuinely don't know if it's male or female. I guess, ultimately, it doesn't matter as I'm not expecting for us to have a conversation, despite the fact that he or she is staring at me in a rather off-putting way, probably wondering if I'm a boy or a girl.  I'm assuming it's a bloke, but there's definitely more than a whiff of the Sharleen Spiteris about him. It must be odd going through life knowing you're generating so much confusion. Perhaps he doesn't realise. I'm sure he doesn't care. And anyway, who am I to gender stereotype in this manner? I'm ashamed of myself! (Still fascinated...)

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