Friday, 15 October 2010

New Composition Draft: "The River Aire"

In the Rivers Movement Project, the overall theme of climate change and environmental protection is related to rivers in Yorkshire. Much of the work of the artists who are involved in this project, relates to the River Aire, which flows from Malham to Castleford.

In the past 6 weeks this Rivers Movement has organised a set of exhibitions and workshops in the Bridge Arts Gallery in Castleford under the theme "70 Reasons why I love the Earth" - that is the context in which I held my music composition workshop two weeks ago. Today, Friday. 15.October, is the final evening.

The River Aire has inspired many artists. One of them, David Wilders, has for this occasion (Rivers Movement workshop series) written a poem about the River Aire. This poem describes in a set of nouns the river, from its source to its merging with the river Calder in Castleford. Officially the river Aire continues until it merges into the river Ouse at Airmyn - I will have to talk to David about this.

The poem by David evokes images of the river in its various stages. I thought that it would be very well suitable to "musify" this (can I claim the copyright on the expression "to musify something"? Apparently not...). So I sat down and tried to translate the words of his poem into orchestral sounds, phrases, themes.

So far I cam only up to the line 5: "The birth, the source, the origin", which describes Malham Cove from where the river begins to flow. The music (following the poem word by word) describes Malham Tarn, storm, might, rain, deluge, sodden, saturation, overspill, energy, flow, movement, partially going down into the Gordale Scar, partially seeping through the earth, until in Malham cove the water is collected, and the river begins.

I plan to continue and "musify" the poem until Castleford, maybe with an extension to Airmyn.

For now I have the "draft" of the first part of this music ready. I was wondering if it is a good idea to put it out now in this unfinished state... it really needs a lot of fine tuning and polishing; also it ends abruptly, as the river would from here on continue to flow.

The final event of this "70 reasons..." workshop series tonight provides an opportunity to play this music to an audience, and so I am thinking that I should put it out there now. The cellist and composer Geoff King from Harrogate will also present a composition about this poem, and he will even play it live on his Cello - I am very much looking forward to this. I will only play my piece as a recorded wave file.

Here is the WMA file of my composition "Birth of the River Aire".
And here is the MP3 file of this music.
These files are currently not yet listed on my official web site, but are only available to readers of this blog.

The event tonight, with the premiere performance of this music piece, will begin at 18:30. Venue: Bridge Arts Gallery, Sagar Street, Castleford, WF10 1AF.

Please let the organiser's know that you saw this note on my web page.

--- Why am I posting this so late? Well, the idea to this composition came to me yesterday night, around 23:00, when I decided that this poem is really nice, and I should do something. So I improvised until around 2:00. The resulting 3 minutes of "music" are the result of 3 hours work. I think that the whole composition would then take about another 10 hours of work to complete, plus another 10 hours to create a well-balanced performance-recording.

Sunday, 3 October 2010

After the Music Workshop

The workshop at the Bridge Arts Gallery in Castleford on 2.October went well. We had five participants with a varied background: some with professional music experience, others with a general interest in music and arts. The first half of the workshop I presented the general concepts of making music with a computer. After lunch with good fish&chips from a nearby outlet we continued to explore the use of a sequencer for music making. I demonstrated some of the sounds of the Garritan Personal Orchestra sample library. Then I played the first movement of Gustav Mahler's Symphony No.1 through the sequencer. The participants, most of them in general not very fond of classical music, found it very enlightning to see the visual indication of the music structure in the piano roll: each voice had its own color, and one could observe the up and down motion of these voices. A teacher saw the great possibilities of this for introducing children to music. Also the intuitive note editing of sound duration through the length of the note bars on the piano roll view appeared to the participants as a major step forward from the traditional 5-line note staff view.

We did not have time to actually start a joint collaborative composition of our own, as I had originally envisioned - we may do this at another time.