Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Sounding out the Season...

A piece written leading up to and when contemplating Christmas, both the joy of being together yet also the sadness of those missing from families or potentially so...


Thursday, 19 December 2013

Full Choral Hide and Seek with Imogen Heap

Having already listed this song and Imogen Heap's original version of Hide and Seek as a 'stop you in your tracks' song how delighted was I to discover this full choral version?!

Featuring the University of Washington choir with Imogen, totally amazing and so Secret Chord!


Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Jeff Buckley - BBC Soul Music Archive - Take 3

I'm delighted to report the BBC has increased the duration of the archived pieces from Radio 4's wonderful Soul Music and have included this edition along with many others, link above.

Here's a re-post of what I wrote about this broadcast back in 2010 which includes some of the content discussed with Jonathan Evens in our book 'The Secret Chord':

BBC Radio 4's edition of 'Soul Music' which featured Dido's Lament turned out to be really special! It always gives me enormous encouragement (and pleasant surprise!) to hear top notch classical maestros admitting truths that most of their colleagues would consider heresy.

The program moved from a fairly conventional start covering thoughts from the mezzo soprano Sarah Connolly and the view of the conductor of the band at the Cenotaph for Remembrance Day.

Jeremy Summerly, the big boss of the Royal Academy of Music and a renowned conductor, issued the first challenges to conventional thinking about the approach to singing the piece. He asked how would anyone know how 17th Century singers would sound and then introduced Alison Moyet's version, praising her approach, the clarity of her timbre and the fact that every word is intelligible. For someone of Jeremy's stature in the classical world to say this is really something, especially as he stated that Purcell's masterpiece is 'the great tune of the 17th Century'.

The closing section of the programme introduced Philip Sheppard, cellist and now composer. He spoke about how he was invited along to be part of the supporting orchestra for Elvis Costello's Meltdown Festival in 1995. One of the pieces was to be Dido's Lament which would be sung by charismatic rock singer Jeff Buckley. Although Philip had never heard of Jeff Buckley before once he heard him singing it had a most profound effect on him:
He seemed to screw every ounce of meaning out of the words and physically he looked like he was wracked with pain and anguish as he was singing it. But what was coming out was beyond ethereal his voice had this quality where it meant so much more than when I had ever heard it before.

But then when he sang it it seemed to be a Lament so much more and it really went beyond what I would consider to be classical music...and to date it's actually probably the greatest musical
experience of my life, in as much as it turned my world inside out.
As a result Philip had to admit:
I know NOTHING about music - at all!
Up to that point I was a musican who played through study rather than a musician who played through feel and now I have to say I seek out people to work with who do not necessarily read music who have their first sense is one of 'ear' rather than of 'technique'...
Philip then goes on to say how this became a pivotal moment in his career which helped him to become a composer, enabling him to move away from being 'a player who just repeated other people's music'.

Jeff Buckley died in a tragic accident just two years later in 1997, sunsequently his version of Leonard Cohen's 'Hallelujah' reached number one in the US Billboard charts and is considered by many to be the definitive version.

Now Philip thinks of Jeff nearly every day and is ever grateful for the effect of the encounter, even though he only met him for around half an hour...

Listening to this has changed me forever, too, thank you so much...


Sunday, 24 November 2013

A Lament for President Kennedy..

I doubt this tribute needs much explanation..?

I was a mere fourteen years old when President Kennedy died, our neighbours called round to tell my sans TV family the news. Whilst we have subsequently experienced other defining historical moments the shock factor and instant recall of the time and place does not fade.

Since Friday I have pondered appropriate phrases to break my blog silence to mark this particular anniversary. The words of Christ on the cross seemed to resonate along with a prayer for forgiveness. I also noticed Bishop Nick Baines blog made the same connection. So knowing these liturgical phrases would have been very familiar to the Kennedy family when inspiration came I recorded it there and then, last night 23rd November...
Father forgive them, for they know not what they've done
Father, in your mercy, hear their prayer, hear our prayer
Rest in my peace, you who have loved, you who have served
Today you're with me, in Paradise, in Paradise...
And then the official reading for today? Luke 23:33-43


Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Billy, Billy, can you hear what I say?!

Whilst the proverb 'confession is good for the soul' rolls off the tongue readily best selling author and Greenbelt Festival speaker Frank Schaeffer has made it into an art form in his latest novel 'And God Said "Billy!"'. Having already given us the fictional 'Portofino' and autobiographical 'Crazy for God' confessions he now offers readers an even more compelling work, a gritty and challenging literary journey beautifully written with lashings of humour encased in layers of grace.

The characters are so authentically vivid that they spring to life within Schaeffer's colourful narrative to such an extent that I felt I, too, became part of the story, surely indicative of a great piece of writing?

Schaeffer is known for his antagonism of right wing fundamental evangelicals and they do not come off lightly in this book. Yet they are not just a soft target by any account, there is far more to this with layered themes that cover many challenges including homophobia, racism, pornography, corruption, spiritual abuse and hypocrisy. I doubt many 'evangelicals' will ever read this and if they did their prejudices about Schaeffer would be re-inforced rather than challenged, he tells it how it is in a righteous and ruthless fashion with f-bombs in the dialogue rather than tame cliché.

The irony is that the Bible is quoted frequently throughout and whilst initially the book's hapless hero justifies everything he does, including criminal acts, utilising a blatantly literal interpretation of biblical texts, as the book progresses that approach morphs into a genuine quest for the deeper meaning contained therein.

In summary it's a romp into the dark from the different darkness of assumed light and a subsequent rescue in the most unlikely of places. It's a tale of losing 'redemption' to be truly and profoundly redeemed via a heady mix of thriller, some Russian Orthodox church history and a gut wrenchingly moving ending that took me completely by surprise. I simply couldn't put it down!


Thursday, 15 August 2013

Thinking Naughty Thoughts... (in church!)

How could anyone resist a request to review a book on church practices entitled thus?! The byline, 'On church, and why I think we need to change', will bring groans from most clergy whilst the rest of us, that rapidly growing denomination on the edge of Exile, will celebrate. Written as a personal journey of discovery, de-discovery and re-discovery by South African author and 'thinker' Johan van der Merwe (JVDM), Thinking Naughty Thoughts covers a handful of sacred cows many Christians hold dear.

Despite the author having many close friends within the clergy, he tackles each topic, broken down per chapter, with vigour and clarity giving historical and theological context that question validity of much we accept without question. In fact, it is, indeed, written in a questioning style and although I sometimes found it a bit long winded that was only because my emerging thoughts have so much resonance with his subject matter.

JVDM covers questions such as 'Do I really have to belong to a local church?' and other thorny issues such as church leadership, tithing, church buildings and the biggie; worship. And it was when I reached the discussion on worship I was tipped over the edge, the PDF I'd been sent was no longer sufficient, I had to order the paperback!

In addition to the questions and personal conclusions there are some great quotes:
p96: ‘Christianity started out in Palestine as a fellowship; it moved to Greece and became a philosophy; it moved to Italy and became an institution; it moved to Europe and became a culture; it came to America and became an enterprise.’ (Sam Pascoe)

p226: However, now it seems that Christianity is more affected by Western culture, than Christianity is actually affecting the West. (John Michael Talbot)

p239: In my own case, the natural progression in my understanding and practice of worship went from noise and sound and lights and music to silence and solitude. Embracing silence and solitude, which Thomas Merton called 'the supreme luxuries of life,' has opened up my life to a rich and deep heritage of worship of which I was unaware in the time when my practice of worship was too one-dimensional and preoccupied with itself. (JVDM)
Some will say the practices critiqued are an easy target and I personally have some sympathy with that view, I cannot say I agree with absolutely everything JVDM says, particularly as he appears to still view through a lens tinted (tainted?) by fundamentalism, yet overall it was such a joy to read even if it serves to simply reinforce my own views. Regardless I feel hats need to be tipped in his general direction, at last someone has articulated views of all of us on that narrow edge of Exile, I rest our case...


Wednesday, 10 July 2013

THAT Secret Chord!

h/t Shelley Fritz

Of course I have to mention that there's a cute wee book, The Secret Chord, available at a bookstore near you ;-)

Friday, 28 June 2013

The Islanders nail the World Record...

Had a splendid day up Londinium yesterday to watch The Islanders team with two of our Mersea boys aboard break the World Record for a non stop unassisted row round the British Isles in the GBRow2013 challenge. Went to the 02 Dome first and watched them pass through the Thames Barrier before legging it to the Thames Clipper to overtake them, as per the film above, and then watch the record breaking finish at Tower Bridge. (Sorry about the noisy soundtrack, inspiring music to follow!)

Nearly there - only 100 metres to go (after a mere 2,000 miles)!

Let me through, I'm a rower!

And relax! Made it in a new world record time 26 days 09 hours 09 minutes and 58 seconds!

So light up the fire let the flares burn!

'Incoming! Here comes race director Chris Usborne to remind us how to stand up again!'

It's been emotional! L-R: Gavin, Josh, Alan, James

Morgan versus Liggins - enthusiastic supporter of the endeavour from BBC Look East

'Now Chris, if you'll just sign our cheque, that'll be grand!'

Well done boys, enjoy your rest and welcome home!


Sunday, 16 June 2013

Gabriel's Anthem for Father's Day...

Whether recently parted, as for Peter G, or for a longer time, miss you so...


Saturday, 8 June 2013

You spin me right round...

Our The Islanders rowing team have been holding station at sea anchor awaiting more favourable wind conditions before moving North through the St George's Channel and into the Irish Sea... Although they are now adrift of the world record and have team member Gavin Sheehan suffering with a back sprain we long to see them back on course leading the GB Row 2013 race.

The billing as the world's toughest rowing race has been proved true with 4 of the 6 starters running into difficulties and no longer competing.


Sunday, 2 June 2013

Press toward the mark...

Excitement builds on Mersea Island once again as we support our boys in The Islanders team rowing 2000 miles non-stop round Britain's coast in the GB ROW 2013 race. At the time of writing The Islanders in Black Oyster are just nudging it ahead of the rest of the fleet which now comprises 6 entrants.

It is possible to track their progress, updated hourly, on both the official GB Row Challenge website and the corresponding smartphone tracking app, yellowbrick.

Press toward the mark for the prize boys, God speed and stay safe!


Monday, 13 May 2013

Location, location, location...

...plus context, environment and many other factors. Thoughts and prayers for Commander Chris Hadfield and Soyuz crew's safe return to earth today...


Wednesday, 1 May 2013

It was thirty years ago...

As listed here: Billboard Charts from 30th April 1983

Although, technically, by 1983 After The Fire was no more we re-convened to film a video ready for the early days of MTV in the US. The first part was filmed in The Venue, Victoria, and then the crew re-created the scene on the top deck of a double decker bus. This was then driven around London during the early morning between 3:00am and 5:00am, I think it was February, with all and sundry getting very cold indeed! Ultimately the video was banned in the UK by the BBC for having the 'scary' tarantula spider. The irony was that when we were filming it was so cold the spider became ultra docile and the only way the owner could get it to stir was to heat the underside of the table with a blowtorch. Suffering for our art... (no animals or insects were harmed in the making of this video).

And we were SO broke!


Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Spontaneous Indigenous Intervention...

Checkout the natural and instinctive harmonies that break out as NZ folk celebrate a significant change in their laws with the Māori love song 'Pokarekare Ana'...

Full story here.

P h/t Steve Lawson

Friday, 12 April 2013

Turning audiences into congregations...

This video of Coldplay performing their hymn-like anthem 'Fix You' is discussed on the excellent Rock and Theology blog, curated by Dr. Tom Beaudoin. Am honoured to have been invited to write a guest post for them which includes references to that post. Additionally this gave me an opportunity to respond to both Jen Logan's post 'Music and People' on the Greenbelt Festival blog and my chum Tim Nevell's personal views on her thoughts.

Of course, I felt compelled to draw out some of the themes that Jonathan Evens and I develop in our book The Secret Chord ;-)

Read the full post here: A Matter of Time and Space


Tuesday, 26 March 2013

A year of being comfortably green...

It's been just over a year since the solar energy photo voltaic panel (PV) system has adorned this house and has provided me with another distraction - I do love my stats! Additionally it has provided many surprises along the way, anyway, let's start at the very beginning...

On Mersea Island it is apparent there has been a substantial take up of the electricity micro-generation using solar panels as they are clearly visible on many homes. Indeed, there are a handful of proactive installers based on this relatively tiny patch which would contribute towards the prevalence.

One of the first things I discovered when having decided to embark on having an installation was to invite quotes from the local teams as well as further afield. In total I contacted six, all but two visited and quoted for different configurations, that was the first puzzle. I settled on a fairly local off-Island company, Igloo Environmental, who already had happy customers on the Island.

This property does not have a South facing roof, the pitch roof is East - West with additional flat roofs, one which is fairly large. An initial proposal was for brackets to angle panels on that flat roof, but the first surprise was that panels can either be laid flat with only ~10% reduction in output OR be installed on an East - West roof with a similar reduction. Igloo eventually came up with an optimised solution with panels on the flat roof, on the East side of the property, positioned as far East as legally permitted and panels on the West facing pitch. In fact the West roof is slightly inclined toward South, even better!

The outcome of this is that the flat panels receive sunlight much longer than if they were on the East facing pitch, so overall we get a really good result, only marginally less than an ideally aligned house with a South facing pitched roof.

Igloo were up against a bit of a deadline, only partly my fault, principally due to interest and take up peaking as deadlines approached. This resulted in a dearth of components, mainly the panels themselves. However, all parties were delighted that deadlines were met and everything worked first time. Since the original installation they have been back just once and then only to address a couple of minor, aesthetic matters.

Another major surprise was that when everything was connected and tested I noticed that it was immediately started generating electricity even though it was overcast. It intrigued me that none of the sales pitches had ever mentioned that the generation depends on the level of light rather than sunlight. A good selling point, surely?!

Another key point that only really has any clarity when it is explained is what the Feed In Tariff (FiT) really is. In a way FiT is a bit of a misnomer, because the main income is from the total electricity units the system generates whereas the Feed back to the grid bit is estimated at half the generated units and paid at something like 3p. I managed to scrape in when the rates were higher, around 43.3p per kWh unit generated, even though it is now around 20p/kWh the sums still work out very favourably.

All the companies provide detailed graphs and figures of expected generation, in this case Igloo predicted that in the first year we could expect to generate 2954kWh whereas the system actually provided 3432kWh, a 16% excess, result! Furthermore when the system is generating more than you use, that is when the surplus is fed back into the grid. A light on the main electricity meter indicates when this is the case. It is quite hard to accurately calculate how much is returned but my billed usage has dropped from around 5000kWh to 3000kWh per annum. So roughly the system has made up that 2000kWh therefore an estimate for the surplus would be 1432kWh which the provider can resell at around 17p per unit.

Having the system does make one much more aware of daily usage, early on I would go round the house looking for lights I could switch off to trigger full parity for 'free' electricity. Now I am careful not to switch two power hungry devices on simultaneously, so kettle followed by toaster and only slightly less obsessed about switching devices off. However, I am still a bit crestfallen every night when the light finally goes!

As an investment it is brilliant, to receive tax free 'interest' of around 25% pa is incredible, the cost was under £8.8k and well worth borrowing for. I know there is criticism that this is only financially accessible to some but it is reducing energy usage. In an earlier post I relate how we had bees in the roof space and their re-deployment. That renovation also included serious extra insulation along with further upgrades to the main roofspace insulation. This is just part of a cunning plan to reduce costs and energy consumption and, despite a certain amount of ignorance, I embarked on the solar energy journey to be environmentally responsible rather than to make any money back. That's a rather pleasing by-product of being a bit naïve, a somewhat green Green!


Friday, 15 March 2013

Bring back bronco...

Sometimes even Apple cannot deliver... iPad #fail...

P h/t Lawrence Wood

Friday, 8 March 2013

Kicking up Good Vibrations...

Terri Hooley is a radical, rebel and music-lover in 1970s Belfast, when the bloody conflict known as The Troubles shuts down his city. As all his friends take sides and take up arms, Terri opens a record shop on the most bombed half-mile in Europe and calls it Good Vibrations. Through it he discovers a compelling voice of resistance in the city’s nascent underground punk scene. Galvanising the young musicians into action, he becomes the unlikely leader of a motley band of kids and punks who join him in his mission to create a new community, an Alternative Ulster, to bring his city back to life.

Good Vibrations is released in the UK and Ireland by The Works UK Distribution on March 29, 2013.

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Music holds, heals and invigorates, gives Dignity

A cracking little project for the metropolis of Leeds recorded and produced in Hope & Social's studio The Crypt... Checkout the full song from the gifted Jasmine Kennedy, available for just one of your British pounds (or more!), a sensitive cover of Deacon Blue's 'Dignity' here:


Saturday, 16 February 2013

Is Somebody Singing...?

A fascinating collaboration between the International Space Station Commander Chris Hadfield, the band Barenaked Ladies and the Canadian junior choir the Wexford Gleeks. Band lead singer Ed Robertson is a self confessed space geek, a common theme amongst many musicians ;-)

I watched the video a couple of days ago, thanks to my blogosphere chum Mike Todd (checkout his original post here) and found I kept returning to watch again. I find there is something deeply moving despite the simplicity of the piece. To me it exhibits the characteristics of a Secret Chord moment, where many elements combine to make it thus...


Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Eat, Fast and Living so for 6 months...

About 20 years ago I had a random cholesterol test when the local surgery were carrying out tests with a new piece of equipment and I hit the jackpot! After a further test with an the overnight fast the GP said I should change my dietary habits and, as a result, 6 months later was in the higher end of the ok zone.

One of the outcomes of Dr Michael Mosley's own tests, comprehensively documented on BBC's Horizon programme where he utilised the 5.2 fast system, was a substantial reduction in his cholesterol levels as well as a reduction in Insulin-like Growth Factor 1 (IGF-1) plus a healthier pancreas. The loss in his weight was almost a by-product benefit of this process, rather than the core mission. When this program was first transmitted back in August 2012 I was captivated by the notion of both the health and spiritual benefits of the fasting aspect of this scheme so decided to embark on it too.

I have now reached the six month mark (26 weeks) of consistent adherence and, whilst I have yet to have a current blood test to measure the cholesterol levels, I definitely feel better for it overall and I am now no longer in the BMI overweight category. I have to say the first few times I underwent fast days (I've now settled on Mondays and Thursdays) it was tough, particularly in the evening after eating the restricted calorie meal... I longed for some extra nibbles!

Using my weight as a guideline, it seems I have reached some sort of plateau now, although I can tell letting up on the regime would gradually restore the pounds. So, just for the record and in case you're thinking of trying it, here's the evidence:

If you missed the full programme, it is available on Dailymotion here and the book, co-authored with Mimi Spencer, which effectively covers what was in the program and also gives some suitable restricted calorie recipe ideas, is called The Fast Diet: The Secret of Intermittent Fasting - Lose Weight, Stay Healthy, Live Longer.

Of course, am now pondering timely Lent thoughts ;-)


Sunday, 10 February 2013

Dancing with the angels...

I was saddened to hear the news that author and founder of Wiconi International, Richard Twiss, died yesterday. I read his book 'One Church Many Tribes' last year, a real insight into the world of indigenous folk both in the United States and worldwide that, despite everything that history rained down on them in the name of God, have revealed the Divine in a significantly deeper way:
We seek to live and walk among all people in a good way, as we follow the ways of Jesus-- affirming, respecting and embracing the God-given cultural realities of Native American and Indigenous people, not rejecting or demonizing these sacred cultural ways.
I have already blogged about Richard, including a video of him in conversation. For a fuller tribute, checkout Shane Claiborne's Facebook entry which includes this:
One of my favorite emails was him teaching me the Lakota phrase “Ikce Wicasa” – which means “common man”. He put it like this:

“In Lakota tradition it is an anathema to becoming a bigshot - arrogant, boastful, proud, highminded, etc…. To be humble, simple, “one of the guys” is to be a common man, Ikce Wicasa -- it is a thing to be sought after… in my life, I strive to be ikce wicasa -- "common man."

So thank you Richard. May your courage and wisdom continue to inspire us to greatness, and may your humility and common-ness continue to inspire us to smallness.
Meanwhile I simultaneously finished the extraordinary novel 'Indian Horse' from Canadian author Richard Wagamese. The riveting narrative follows the life of Saul Indian Horse from native childhood through time spent in a church run 'corrective' schooling system and beyond. Despite serious abuse Saul finds redemption in ice hockey and commences to navigate a new journey whilst still subject to taunts and discrimination because of his heritage. Again this book provides a revealing insight, reading like an autobiography, or memoir, which prompts one to research more background to the text.

Online interviews with the author point out that some Canadians see this book as primarily about hockey and even suggest that it should have a title that reflects that. Wagamese is adamant that it is actually centred on the need to face up to the past rather than simply revelling in the fulfilling aspects of the national sport.

Reader beware, though, as some dark truths emerge in the final twists and turns, it is gut wrenchingly disturbing. So, be prepared to shed a tear but don't expect to be able to put it down once you start...


Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Driving in My Car...

Info-graphic from research carried out by the Tesco Insurance Comparison website, click image to zoom in...
Tesco Compare users respond: UK’s most popular Driving Music

February 5th, 2013

What do Brits listen to most while driving? The results of a recent competition held by Tesco Compare showed that, from postcode to postcode, Queen are the champions – and by some distance, too.

In September 2012, the comparison website launched a competition that questioned motorists on their choice of in-car music. 30,000 responded to the question, "What is your favourite song to drive to?" The results are published today in the infographic Queen of the Road. Over 75% of the country’s postal districts returned a decisive Mercury as Motor Monarch vote, almost exactly 50% more than Adele, their nearest competitor. Queen’s Greatest Hits, originally released in 1981, was recently confirmed by the Official Chart Company as the UK’s biggest selling album, with sales approaching 6 million.

The London-based rockers did not top the charts in every district, however, and the pockets of resistance make for interesting analysis in themselves. The survey showed that Adele keeps the motorists on track in Bromley, Truro, Wigan, Crewe and Southall, while she shares equal stereo time with other artists in Ilford (with ABBA and Michael Jackson), Worcester (Coldplay and Take That) and Sunderland (George Michael).

Perhaps the most unusual findings showed a small outcrop of passionate Louis Armstrong supporters at the wheel in Slough, and a loose but significant scattering of Killers and Gerry Rafferty fans populating the roads around Llandrindod Wells.  
The Drivers’ UK Top 10 came in as follows:

1.        Queen
2.        Adele
3.        Madness
4.        Coldplay
5.        ABBA
6.        Take That
7.        The Beatles
8.        Meat Loaf
9.        Bon Jovi
10.      Rihanna

Individual songs that scored very highly included Don’t Stop Me Now and Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen, Someone Like You by Adele and Driving in My Car by Madness.

“Despite the abundance of modern pop music, it turns out that Queen retain the audio affections of the UK’s road users,” said Gemma Whitton, spokesperson for Tesco Compare. “Personally, I find listening to music while driving is quite therapeutic and helps me concentrate on my journey. I remember that when I bought my first car, the most important feature was the stereo. These days, I have a playlist of Driving Music on my iPod." 
So we prefer the anthemic stuff then? Happy to reveal my in transit listening habits are a tad different ;-)


Sunday, 3 February 2013

Folk music tradition matters...

This last week I decided to watch the BBC red button transmission of the annual Radio 2 Folk Awards. I have learnt that there are more sub divisions in this genre of music than realised at first, with various factions trying to claim their particular style is more authentically orthodox than the rest. My sense is that this is a problem that tends to arise where there is a clearly defined sub-culture, which folk music surely is.

One of the issues that manifests itself is the 'big fish, small pond' syndrome. Some of the music was simply not that great! A bit like poor versions of mainstream equivalents, even prog. rock (to my prejudiced ear) got a look in. There were notable exceptions from the delightful Karine Polwart and the sublime rendition above from Lifetime (he prefers 'lunchtime') Award recipient, fiddler Aly Bain.

This piece is played with such amazing sensitivity and surpassed anything else that I heard during the evening. Of course, it may have been different actually being there, but from the audience reaction I reckon this was most likely a Secret Chord moment! Unashamed plug warning: read more in Jonathan Evens and my wee book, The Secret Chord!

There are those that have managed to 'crossover' (that dreadful description) to the mainstream, in the last few years Seth Lakeman and Bellowhead to name but two, both of whom have amazing talent and virtuosity. This year an 'outsider' was invited to cross back, as a guest, into the fold, from the big outside world, namely Billy Bragg, who also received a special award.

It was all a bit like going to church, those who knew what was going on were fine, to us on the fringe some aspects were a total mystery (church), lots of meaningless drivel (bad sermons), some inspiring speeches, (good sermons), plenty of average music (typical), a rousing hymn at the end (predictable) and the transcendent rendition from Aly Bain and Phil Cunningham (a rare and precious sacred moment which reminds us what it's all about).

There seems to be plenty of energy devoted to maintaining traditions (back to church again!), but those that choose a higher calling prefer rather to build on the traditions and land up producing something very special, long may that continue...


Friday, 1 February 2013

Big Bang Practice...

Bomb disposal visited this fair isle to destroy a hand grenade on the beach a bit West of Monkey Steps that was trawled up today. Yes, I did mean gaffa tape really...and it was VERY loud!


Thursday, 31 January 2013

Motif Matters

Here is an example of a musical element that now resides in my composer's toolbox. This is by no means a finished product, just a better quality version of an idea on real piano that I recorded onto my iPhone to capture the inspiration. On the iPhone I tend to use Voice Memos or, if I can lay my hands on it at the time, the Blue Microphones Blue Mikey 2.0 iPhone/iPod Recorder. Then the next stage was to re-record using the Avid / Digidesign ProTools LE (version 7.4.2), two tracks of Nord Stage in real time. Having create an instrumental mix I then 'heard' this soprano vocal part in my head during playback, so promptly added that and re-mixed as above...

Sometimes these 'sketches' are absorbed into complete pieces, such as those included in the collection entitled Sotto Voce on Bandcamp.


Saturday, 12 January 2013

How can I keep from singing...?

A marvellous Flash Mob performing The Beatles 'Here Comes The Sun' held in a Spanish unemployment office where, typically, unemployment rates are around 25%.

Check out more about the story from The Atlantic.

P h/t @Giles_Fraser