Thursday, 8 September 2016

Acrid winds

I've spent the day today scoring music for a Brass medley in the forthcoming National Youth Music Theatre gala concert, which, for the record, takes place on October 30th. They're celebrating 40 years of existence. The orchestra for the concert is larger than the pit orchestra for Brass, so I'm expanding the orchestrations to include a wind section. Friends, colleagues and regular readers of this blog will know how much I hate wind instruments. They make such a ghastly noise. I'm literally forcing myself to add them to the sonic equation. The problem with wind instruments is that, whatever you do with them, they end up sounding like 1970s sitcoms or cruddy Broadway shows. They are so unbelievably lacking in versatility. A bassoon will always remind you of Ivor the Engine, an oboe will always sound like the moment the barricade revolves in Les Mis, piccolos are Frank Spencer and a wind ensemble is either the music to that dreadful show with Hyacinth Bouquet or Peter And the Wolf - which isn't, admittedly, a 1970s theme tune. Wind instruments provide nothing but comedy sounds, or, in the case of the oboe, fake mournfulness. Even the word wind is silly. The instruments even effect the way that people look. Players often have odd lips. Flautists are genetic predisposed to have long blonde hair. I could go on...

I realise this is all deeply subjective and I very much appreciate that I'm the one with he problem. I should probably go into therapy. But by adding wind to the Brass orchestrations, I am attempting to tackle my intolerance head on. Perhaps the players will make such a glorious noise that I'll instantly be converted. Or maybe the fact that I simply can't think of anything to do with them will mean, if they do sound rubbish, it will all be my fault. Maybe I need a one on one session with a bassoonist to see if they make anything other than duck or train noises. Pah pa pah. That's my impression of a bassoon.

I worked through til 7pm when I decided to do a load of cooking in time for the Great British Bake Off. I had it all planned. I'd cook some biscuits, make some pasta, and everything would be ready for 8pm. At about 7.55 all hell broke loose. The pasta wasn't ready, the biscuits were still dough and the Halloumi on the pan was starting to curl up. I sat back down at my computer to send one email, "what the hell's that smell?" Asked Nathan. He threw open the oven door and acrid black smoke filled the room. The biscuits had gone from anaemic to charcoal in a matter of seconds. I tried to photograph them and the carbon shimmered in the flash like stars in the night sky. Straight into the bin they went, like one of Fiona's experimental wheat-free loaves. Moments later the pasta turned soggy and started to fry. It was a culinary disaster of epic proportions and we ended up having to watch Bake Off on catch up, with a fresh batch of biscuits, huge, wet lumps of pasta and rock hard Halloumi. The bake off was good though. Bread week. I'd love to bake bread but I think we need a new oven before I'll consider making anything but biscuits.

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