Friday, 21 April 2017


I sat in the cafe yesterday writing music and trying to get my head around this ludicrous general election, which I'm beginning to feel is testing the very concept of democracy because it's clear that May (having promised there wouldn't be a general election until 2020) is only calling an election because she thinks she's going to win it, rather than because the country actually needs one. She's a megalomaniac. And a tragedy. I bet she smells weird as well. Like cloying perfume and farts.

Anyway, whilst sitting in the cafe, I realised they were playing Wuthering Heights on the sound system. They play music mercifully quietly in Costa Highgate, and the seat I usually opt for is as far away from speakers as it's possible to get. The glorious tones of La Bush, however, are unmistakable, and made me very happy, particularly when a woman on the next door table started joining in. Rather convincingly, as it happens. And in full belt!

Imagine my extreme further joy when I suddenly heard a short snippet of the iconic opening piano notes of The Winner Takes It All by ABBA, superimposed on top of the Kate Bush song. Pretty much my two favourite songs vying for attention! It turned out that the bloke wearing the kippah on the other side of me had set the ABBA song as his text message alert. Throughout the morning I heard those glorious bars of piano music several times. Each time they caught me off guard and I found myself getting a little emotional. There's something about that particular musical phrase which cuts straight to my heart. Every time. Like the smell of wood smoke in Thaxted, the taste of potatoes roasted in flour, or the very mention of Wales! Is it a bit weird that I cry whenever someone talks about Wales?!

Johnny Vaughan engaged me in conversation on the tube a couple of nights ago. I'd been in town for a meeting and I was in a filthy mood, so flung open my laptop and immersed myself in a song from Em. I could sense the bloke next to me looking over my shoulder with great interest. Just as he stood up to get off the tube at Camden, he asked the name of the music writing programme I was using and engaged me in a brief conversation about the merits of Finale vs Sibelius. It was only as he left the carriage that I realised who I'd been talking to. I'm not altogether sure why I think this story is worthy of this blog, but I guess there may be Jonny Vaughan fans out there who might be vaguely titillated. Obviously Jonny Ball would have excited me slightly more. And a conversation with Jonny Morris would have been a proper story. I loved Jonny Morris. I've just read on Wikipedia that he left his house to Terry Nutkins when he died. I've also just read that Terry Nutkins is also dead. I guess you reach an age where you have to expect that all your childhood heroes are no longer with us! Terry Nutkins had eight children. However did he find space for that sea lion?!

I am still on target to deliver a song from Em every day, although I haven't quite managed to finish today's offering. I was adding quite a large amount of new material, so it feels really important to sleep on what I've done today. For the last week, on and off, during in my spare time (as it were), I've been working on a song from the show called A Little Balance, which I can't quite manage to put to bed. It's right off the radar in terms of my usual musical theatre offering, which might mean it's blinking brilliant or it will fall flat on its face. I'm working incredibly hard to make sure the latter option isn't the case, and, in the process, am finding myself simplifying and simplifying. Stripping chord after chord, note after note, so there's more and more space. It's actually a really good exercise because it means you lobby only for what's absolutely necessary in terms of the spacing and density of chords. I've decided to run a drone all the way through the song, which I'd like to realise as a man's voice, loosely on a single pitch, reading the news. I think it could prove to be an extremely atmospheric and quirky device.

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