Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Hyde Park

There was quite an extraordinary mist in North London when I woke up. I could see it in the night, swirling and rolling like smoke outside the window, but this morning the sun was making a concerted effort to burn through, which had the effect of turning everything into a monochrome or sepia silhouette, which was really very beautiful. It was all rather Victorian - particularly in Highgate. I felt as though Jack the Ripper might have been on the prowl...

The journey up to Wakefield was accompanied by varying degrees of fog. I stopped off at my favourite trucker's cafe on the A1. Stibbington is just north of Peterborough, somewhere near the Nene Valley Railway. I had a vegetarian breakfast surrounded by Scottish lorry drivers and traveling salesmen in dodgy suits.

I did some composing whilst there and the music software caused quite a stir. "Is that the 1812 Overture?" Some bloke asked, "I wish!" I said, lying. "Well you might get there one day," he countered. I felt a little insulted.

Bizarrely, for a lover of all things Yorkshire, this is my first visit to Wakefield. I can't say I've particularly fallen in love with the place. It's full of out-of-town malls and tacky-looking clubs and I can't imagine it's a barrel of laughs on a Saturday night. I passed a group of grotesque Irish women who, at 5pm were already pissed and squawking like obscene farm animals.

Nathan and I drove to Leeds this evening to a recording studio in a house in the Hyde Park area of the city, which, co-incidentally, is where many of the characters I'm writing about in Brass are supposedly from.

Hyde Park is the student-cum-bohemian district in Leeds. It's got a reputation for being quite edgy. In fact it remains the only place I've filmed in where we were provided with a body guard! I adore the area, however, and would happily live there. It's where great rambling Victorian mansions rub shoulders with back-to-back terraces, where old ladies still hang their washing out across the street. The area features prominently in A Symphony For Yorkshire.

Anyway, this evening I was with Hazel Plummer, who produced the soundtrack for the aforementioned film, and the lovely Em Brulee, milliner and burlesque hostess, who was one of the stand-out performers in it.

We're recording a piano vocal arrangement of Sing A Song of Yorkshire, the anthem from the fourth movement of the symphony, which we're going to sell as a digital download.

We did take after take, the decision having been made to record both the piano and the vocal in the same room, which means there's no scope for tuning or moving anything about in the process of mixing. We effectively recorded as live... Every time either of us made a mistake, we'd have to start all over again. It's a hugely pressurised and exhausting experience, but ultimately rewarding. I'm excited to hear how it sounds.

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