River of Golden Dreams
A movement from “Whistler Suite 2010”. The piece is programmatic in that it projects sonic images inspired by the “Sea to Sky” journey from Vancouver to Whistler. The River of Golden Dreams is an actual river and stunning images greet you as you travel along the valleys past the city of Squamish towards Whistler. The ‘Canadian Marimba’ bars were cut and recorded from pine, maple and cedar. Fundamentals are tuned to A = 440 but not the harmonics. The resultant timbres are unique.
Marimba modelling: Canadian wood
Piano, Bass, Strings.
St Christopher's Plight
Saint Christopher and the angels sadly don’t always succeed in protecting us on our journeys. (In this case they did: the occupants survived.) Composed in 2014, this piece depicts the sounds of the road, the thundering horn-honking traffic that drives past you, on yours and the other lanes, regardless. For the crash victims time has suddenly changed; life flashes before your eyes, things happening in slow motion and 'NDEs' are often reported. It takes time for the emergency services to reach the injured. This piece may be too evocative for some: “slow down”, “don’t text while driving” etc. Piano duet, Trumpet, Horn & Trombone, Synth.
Some compositions take longer than others and “Radiation” is no exception: In 1984 I read the book ‘When the Wind Blows’ written by local Westmeston village author/illustrator Raymond Briggs. The book scared me to my core and my first ever panic attack: As a young man I dealt with the prospect of Cruise Missiles and ensuing Atomic War, Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) destroying all life as we know it by writing a stage musical based on this book by Raymond Briggs. It is full to the brim with ‘dark comedy’. The song RADIATION segues to a full chorus, Dies Irae for mankind. The eVocoder synthesiser is a recent addendum: “Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Fukushima, nowhere you can hide! You can’t see it, you can’t feel it, so how can it do you any harm?” Great guitar work from Dave Bryce (Aged 11) Dave Worth aged 13.
Latterly the multi-talented Will Roberts on Euphonium. and Trombone. (Dies irae, 2017)
The drama that plays out at the quantum level within our body: nucleo-peptide messengers, Telomeres with their repetitive (TTAGGG) DNA–protein complexes at the ends of chromosomes, are crucial for the survival of cancer cells. Helper T cells, and rogue pre-cancer cells are locked in a battle.
2nd Viennese school 12-tone serial rules are very loosely applied in a Post Serialist model: I use 13 notes instead of 12: repeating a G# which represents ‘Genetic aberration and GOD, or CODE’: ‘aberration’ rogue cells, inverted, retrograde, augmented and stretto., But which prevails? Healthy cells? Reverse vocalisation chants invoke healing at the quantum level. Tonality is restored with an A-minor melodic purity. Why do we crave purity and beauty of tone? Did Pythagoras discover the healing properties of sound?
Flute, Keyboard, Sound design: Logic ProX.
The Ceramics Exhibition 2014 created/staged by Professor Michael Rice (AUD Dubai) provided rich ‘sonic pickings’ for a sample-based suite of percussion pieces. (Carefully struck with various mallets)
Earthworks Nr. 1 uses the samples in their raw state, ‘anchors’ pulled to suit the length of notes. The form is Arch: ABCBA. The timbres are dark and evocative. Mother-earth tones emerge like cathedral bells struck by objects dropped from a crow’s beak.
Timbres: All original samples. Sequencing in Logic ProX.
A Matter of Life and Death
A new music technology: In the 1990’s AKAI produced a range of ‘Samplers’. They were expensive 19” rack units that allowed the user to manipulate sounds via a tiny 3.5”x1.5” LCD screen. A tactile data wheel and little ivory-white buttons provided some degree of editing, if you could be bothered to persevere.
This composition uses samples of a ‘Blue-bottle’ fly trapped in the bathroom and flying around a microphone. "Super-fly-wing-vibrations" transmogrify to Jumbo jet resonance at the 4 x 8ve basso. Carbon-based life forms are superseded by silicon-based life forms. Short sonata form with glass marbles, wine bottles, Cola bottles and YAMAHA synth and, naturally THE FLY!
The sounds of live Arabic music playing in Dubai is always a source of intrigue and more detailed listening for me: The melodic improvisations are assured enough, but too often for my liking the texture becomes overpowered and there is little room for the nuances to breathe. In “Dubai Beats” I combine elements of ‘Western Classical tradition’ and make no apology for the resultant ‘commercial’ feel to the track.Indian influences are also prevalent. I had hoped to produce a vocal track within this piece but alas none was forthcoming. :-(
Oud, Percussion,Bass, Samples, Flute plus sampled strings. Re-mixed by Dave Bryce.
"There will be Death"
COVID-19 Strikes a chord of Chopin in every musical quotation.
Here is an unfolding sketch during LOCKdown.
I will add to this as the Lockdown progresses.