Friday, 18 July 2014

Frida Bah!

I'm currently walking along the sea front in Worthing. There is, what can only be described as a trade wind blowing. The merest hint of freshness in the air is all that prevents this place from feeling like a Spanish resort. Well, that and the architecture. And the pebble beach. And the slightly chavvy people staggering home from the travelling funfair which closed hours ago. One of them is singing songs from the shows rather loudly. He has a passable musical theatre voice, but is shouting to show off. Odds are that he's a local performing arts student.

The moon is deep orange. Almost red. It's enormous but incredibly low in the sky. I don't think I've ever seen it looking like this. I think I'm only seeing it because I'm by the sea and there's nothing tall between me and the horizon. There's a dark cloud passing in front of it at the moment. It looks like a finger of black smoke passing over a glowing ember.

I've been with Paul Kendall all day, taking a much-needed mini-sabbatical from Brass to do two days' work on The Pepys Motet. We're working our way through Movement Five of the work with the same forensic detail we've employed with the other movements. I've written here before that we're using a process which would make most classical musicians turn in their graves, but what we're doing is actually brilliant from a composer's perspective. It means every last note that I've written not only sounds, but sounds in perfect tune and time. Some would argue that it's the imperfections that actually give music a groove, a vibe or emotional intensity. Who knows? I certainly don't think we're lacking in these aspects and we're very deliberately not taking the quirkiness our of lead vocals. Certainly what we're not doing is cheating. This is an intensely creative process which involves us both pouring over the score in a level of detail I've not encountered before.

It's bloody hot though! At one point in the afternoon, as sun poured through the skylight in PK's loft, I wondered if the two of us were going to melt, and as I walked to the Travelodge where I'm staying tonight, I was aware that my walk was becoming increasingly John Wayne-esque as my weary thighs  started to chafe! Too much information?

We had a slightly surreal moment in the studio today when, for no apparent reason, I decided to show PK the rather crazy TV moment when ABBA sing a set of bizarre improvised pop songs with Olivia Newton John. For some reason the three women are also playing percussion instruments with varying degrees of success. Frida has a tambourine. Newton-John is actually playing a snare drum with a brush. It's hopelessly surreal, but it goes to prove how sad it was that ABBA and Newton-John didn't team up in the recording studio. Imagine the wall of sound that those three women would have created?

Anyway, apart from all of that being utterly fascinating, the particularly surreal moment came when PK got bored and returned to the Pepys Motet, hitting the space bar to play the sequence we were about to work on to hear Little Michelle in isolation singing a string of notes to the word "ba". Simultaneously, the ABBA girls, at the very same pitch, burst into song with the opening of Barbara Anne... "Ba ba ba ba Barbara Ann!" There were bas coming from all angles!

Art imitating art! I've never felt so close to Frida!

No comments:

Post a Comment