Postcard 5

Over at Patreon I have a few different “rewards” for different levels of funding. The idea is to thank my patrons for their support, while also doing things that are musically useful or relevant. If you want to learn more about Patreon I’ve given a brief explanation.

For pledges of $3/work or more, if patrons disclose their postal address, I send a hand-drawn postcard with a short, unique melody by me on it. Here’s the fifth one:
postcard005

This one is for @tall_rich, who I met through Twitter. I think he’s also a fan of some of my recordings on Bandcamp, and he’s always been quietly supportive.

I’ve taken a photograph because, in addition to sending them to people I want to thank for their support, I plan to use these melodies at some point; I haven’t yet decided whether to combine them into a larger piece somehow, or to take each one and expand on it, to form a multi-movement work or a collection of pieces. As with most of my work, these postcards are licensed with CC BY-SA, so if you want to use or modify the image or the music you are quite welcome to do so. Just make sure you attribute me, and release any derivative work under the same license.

Postcard 4

Over at Patreon I have a few different “rewards” for different levels of funding. The idea is to thank my patrons for their support, while also doing things that are musically useful or relevant. If you want to learn more about Patreon I’ve given a brief explanation.

For pledges of $3/work or more, if patrons disclose their postal address, I send a hand-drawn postcard with a short, unique melody by me on it. Here’s the fourth one:postcard004

This one is for Alex, who I’ve known for a while now; I’m very grateful for his support, not only as a musician but in various other spheres of my life.

I’ve taken a photograph because, in addition to sending them to people I want to thank for their support, I plan to use these melodies at some point; I haven’t yet decided whether to combine them into a larger piece somehow, or to take each one and expand on it, to form a multi-movement work or a collection of pieces. As with most of my work, these postcards are licensed with CC BY-SA, so if you want to use or modify the image or the music you are quite welcome to do so. Just make sure you attribute me, and release any derivative work under the same license.

Love (III)

At St Andrew’s Leytonstone we had the final service of our much-loved parish priest, Fr Duncan, this morning. I’ve interrupted the Song Cycle pilgrimage to come back and play. He is retiring and we will all miss him loads.

I wanted to do something special for this service, so I asked him for a favourite poem. When he said “Love bade me welcome” by George Herbert, I was delighted; and I had already started working on it, anyway.George Herbert stained glass window

Love bade me welcome: yet my soul drew back,
Guilty of dust and sin.
But quick-eyed Love, observing me grow slack
From my first entrance in,
Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning
If I lacked anything.

“A guest,” I answered, “worthy to be here”:
Love said, “You shall be he.”
“I, the unkind, ungrateful? Ah, my dear,
I cannot look on thee.”
Love took my hand, and smiling did reply,
“Who made the eyes but I?”

“Truth, Lord; but I have marred them; let my shame
Go where it doth deserve.”
“And know you not,” says Love, “who bore the blame?”
“My dear, then I will serve.”
“You must sit down,” says Love, “and taste my meat.”
So I did sit and eat.

It should be available on the Choral Public Domain Library from sometime tomorrow. I may yet revise it; there are some bits I’m not entirely happy with… but as things stand I needed to get something finished so that the choir would have music to learn! They sang it well this morning and there were positive comments from some in the congregation, anyway. And as always, this is licensed under a Creative Commons license, so anyone who wants to can use it as long as they do attribute me.

Passing Notes 2014-07

I am delighted to announce the publication of the second edition of my monthly newsletter, Passing Notes. You can read it online or subscribe to future editions.

The content is eclectic: news about what I have been up to, what I’m going to be up to next, things I like and so on. This edition contains details of first non-music “day job” I’ve had in about a decade, various musical goings-on, and the cake recipe I use most often.

Postcard 3

Over at Patreon I have a few different “rewards” for different levels of funding. The idea is to thank my patrons for their support, while also doing things that are musically useful or relevant. If you want to learn more about Patreon I’ve given a brief explanation.

For pledges of $3/work or more, if patrons disclose their postal address, I send a hand-drawn postcard with a short, unique melody by me on it. Here’s the third one:

postcard003

This is for @revphilipgreen who follows me on Twitter, and says he likes what I do and wants to support it. I’m very grateful!

I’ve taken a photograph because, in addition to sending them to people I want to thank for their support, I plan to use these melodies at some point; I haven’t yet decided whether to combine them into a larger piece somehow, or to take each one and expand on it, to form a multi-movement work or a collection of pieces. As with most of my work, these postcards are licensed with CC BY-SA, so if you want to use or modify the image or the music you are quite welcome to do so. Just make sure you attribute me, and release any derivative work under the same license.

I walked in darkness: recording with video

I’m very pleased to be able to offer this video:

Enjoy! If you’d like to sing this in your choir, the sheet music is available online for free. You have to print it yourself though!

If you want to hear more, as soon as my pledges on Patreon reach $70 per new work, I’m going to commission a recording of Christ has no body now on earth but ours.

I Am

I wrote this, like “The Message of the Wind“, for the Nicola Dando Choral Composition Prize. The judges didn’t choose it but I still like it.

The poem, written by John Clare, seems to have a few different versions of the fifth line in the first stanza. I set the one that I was given for the competition: “Like shades in love and death’s oblivion lost”, which rhymes with the final line of the poem; but other versions include “Like shadows in love’s frenzied stifled throes” or “Shadows of life, whose very soul is lost”; I don’t know the provenance of these different versions, but the version I was given does better justice to the words, given the metre, than the others. The last line of that stanza has some variations too.

Here’s the full text as I set it:

I am—yet what I am none cares or knows;
My friends forsake me like a memory lost:
I am the self-consumer of my woes—
They rise and vanish in oblivious host,
Like shades in love and death’s oblivion lost
And yet I am, and live with shadows tost.

Into the nothingness of scorn and noise,
Into the living sea of waking dreams,
Where there is neither sense of life or joys,
But the vast shipwreck of my life’s esteems;
Even the dearest that I loved the best
Are strange—nay, rather, stranger than the rest.

I long for scenes where man hath never trod
A place where woman never smiled or wept
There to abide with my Creator, God,
And sleep as I in childhood sweetly slept,
Untroubling and untroubled where I lie
The grass below—above the vaulted sky.

While it would be pushing things to call this a secular work, I’m not sure it would be suitable for liturgical use; it isn’t really an anthem. So perhaps it is more suited to a choral concert, especially if there is a theme of mental health or alienation and how people express that through poetry and art. I’ve tried to present the turbulence of the first two stanzas and the wistfulness and longing for peace of the last stanza.

There is a .pdf and .midi at the Choral Public Domain Library, and as usual, this music is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike license. This means you can use it, reproduce it, whatever you like, as long as you attribute me and you release your work under a similar license.

Passing Notes

A while ago I mentioned the possibility of starting a monthly-ish newsletter or mailing list.

Only five of you have signed up, but I’m pleased to announce the first edition of Passing Notes is live! If you haven’t signed up you can also read it here, and subscribe if you like. The idea is that for those of you not in the habit of checking this blog or following me on twitter, it’s a way to keep up with some of what I’ve been up to, projects you might find interesting, and things I like. This month features a cheesecake recipe as well as updates on various projects.

 

Mystery Plays E11

On Sunday, 22nd June at 3pm St Andrew’s Leytonstone is hosting Mystery Plays.

The modern script is firmly in the tradition of the ancient plays: it doesn’t just recount the Bible stories but offers some interpretation as well. There will be drama, poetry, dance, music and even video, by a mixture of professional and amateur actors from the local and wider community, including people of many different faiths and backgrounds. Rather than each play being an hour or so long, these are twelve shorter playlets of ten to fifteen minutes each, with plenty of audience participation.

Tickets cost £10 including some bread and wine (or grape juice if you prefer) at the interval, and all proceeds will go to the Organ Fund.

We still need to raise about £10000 to repair the failing leather bellows of our beautiful pipe organ. This historic Edwardian instrument by Lewis & Co retains all its original pipework, and has been part of the musical tradition at St Andrew’s since its installation in 1914. A hundred years on, the leather bellows are cracked and worn, leaking badly. The bellows with the worst leaks have been blocked off, leaving only just over half the organ working at all. Even this is a temporary solution: it is only a matter of time until the instrument fails completely.

A total of £25000 is needed to fully repair the bellows, but we’ve raised over £15000 so far: the Mystery Plays are just one event to help reach our goal and restore the organ to its former glory.

O come hither

One of the pleasures of singing and playing in the London Gallery Quire is being allowed to spring my music on them from time to time. A greater joy is the privilege of performing, from time to time, the work of our musical director, Dr Francis Roads.

I like his work enough that I asked him to write a piece for my wedding; he did, and “Set me as a seal” was just the right thing for the context, making good use of the combination of the St Andrew’s choir and the London Gallery Quire singing together. It’s not every day one receives such a wedding gift.

My favourite piece of his so far, though, might be his setting of Psalm 46, verses 8-10:

“O come hither, and behold the works of the Lord : what destruction he hath brought upon the earth.
He maketh wars to cease in all the world : he breaketh the bow, and knappeth the spear in sunder, and burneth the chariots in the fire.
Be still then, and know that I am God.”

This is dedicated “to the immortal memory of William Knapp”, that composer of the fine hymn tune known as Wareham, as well as many good West Gallery anthems. In the sheet music the word “knappeth” is capitalised, “Knappeth”. I rather like the implication that the music of Knapp and other church musicians is one way that God ends violence, though that’s probably me reading too much into the pun.

You can listen to the music here if you have the Sibelius Scorch plug-in, or download a Sibelius file here which I believe plays in some sort of eye pad app, but really the robots don’t do it justice. The best way to hear it is to come to our concerts! The first concert is at St. George’s German Lutheran Church, 55 Alie Street, London E1 8EB, on Wednesday 18th June at 7pm. Tickets are £5 and doors open 6.30pm.

If you miss that one, or like it so much you want another, the next is at St Peter-in-the-Forest, Woodford New Road, Walthamstow, E17 3PP,
on Saturday 28th June 2014 at 7pm.

Perhaps that will inspire you to download the sheet music and suggest it to a good SATB church choir; or indeed to join us in London Gallery Quire and have the pleasure of singing more of the same.