Wednesday, 28 May 2014


On my way to Camden today I stopped off at the little cafe kiosk at the back entrance to Highgate station. The Algerian chaps who work there are ludicrously friendly, and, as a result, I often go out of my way to give them custom.

The guy who served me today, Samir, seemed a great deal less cheery than normal. I watched him as he prepared my cup of tea, engulfed by sadness, and came to the conclusion that he must be in mourning. This isn't something I usually decide about someone and it was some time before I realised the actual truth...

My perception of the what I was looking at had been entirely altered by the music playing on Samir's radio! I'm not sure what it was. It was probably from a film; something mournful and repetitive played on solo piano, but I realised in retrospect that it had started as Samir stood up from his chair to serve me, and that the entire transaction had taken place with that going on in the background!

Then it struck me how we're all hugely influenced by music in ways we don't even realise; not just in obvious cases like films, where incidental music tells us how to feel, or when we start walking in time to music playing as we pass a shop. This is, of course, why they play soothing classical music at rowdy tube stations and why, at the end of a club night, the chill-out music informs us that it's time to stop taking drugs and go home!

Of course, it's an oft-debated concept; very much a chicken and egg sort of thing. Do we associate minor chords with sadness because early writers used minor chords to denote tragedy? Or is there something inherently sad about the interval of a minor third?

It's fascinating to me that music can be used - in isolation - to represent almost every emotion; danger, loneliness, comedy, intrigue...

I'm aware this philosophy is central to GCSE music and that I'm ridiculously late to the party in discussing it here; but I suppose I've never been quite so subconsciously drawn in by the eerie wiles of music!

I was heading to Camden to have our wedding photographs printed yet again. I feel if I'm going to throw my money at Snappy Snaps, they can at least print the pictures properly. I sat writing in a cafe waiting for them to be developed whilst drinking more tea. I've had tea coming out of my ears today and am feeling somewhat jittery as a result.

By the end of the week I shall be half way through the process of orchestrating Brass. I have to say, it's fairly heavy going. My heart sinks when I'm faced with a blank manuscript at the start of a new song. By the time the underscoring goes in, I'll have orchestrated up to two hours of music, which is by far my longest ever composition. It's exhausting. Genuinely.

I collected the pictures in the midst of a rain storm. They hadn't been done brilliantly, but there was a noticeable improvement from the last lot. I find this weather more than a little distressing. It is, of course, the fault of the Chelsea Flower Show, which I've noticed always brings with it buckets of rain. But this is cold rain. The sort of damp rain which gets into your bones. Hideous.

1 comment:

  1. Of course it's raining. It's half term! Ellie x