Friday, 19 June 2015

A Composition.

"I wrote this piece for rebec and Sasanian glass.
I wanted to evoke the idea of Persian orange groves,
So the vessel is full of gin, rather than water,
Flavoured with Seville orange peel.
This is a representation in liquid of the imperfection
Of the clarity or transparency in the sillica-soda-lime,
From which the Sasanian examples differ in class,
Containing more plant ash, at different periods of time.
(The Seville orange which we associate with marmalade
Was introduced from Persia.) It behoves
A composer to try out his ideas, and I ought to,
But I thought it would be fun to hear the piece played
For the first time in the concert hall, perhaps it is crass
To assume the audience, who, after all, have paid
A good deal to hear this work will go along with the spirit
(Pun intended) of the thing, but I hope they will.
And if the glass is too dense to reverberate and produce
A note, then it won't really matter.  I have tried to distil
(Pun intended) the essence of ancient Persia
Into the sounds I have written for rebec, which will induce
A wonderful effect; the instrument has been sprayed
With a fine mist of rose oil.  I can reveal
That I got over my composers block, my inertia,
By allowing the notation to take its direction
From the pattern of a Tabriz carpet. So each note
Is genuinely Persian, but you hear it as an oblique
Reference, which allows you to devote
The time you spend, sharing this musical space, to heal
Yourself, and float away on a magic carpet in your mind.
This interpretation,
This transformation of a visual art form into sound,
Has been around for a while,
But there is something about the style
Of my composition which I think you will find,
Is unique."

Thursday, 4 June 2015

Naturism and Music

Bartok wrote Bluebeard's Castle, in the nude,
Except for a pair of sunglasses, which presumably he wore
As symbols of the last door,
To try and keep things dark.
The whole opera is different because he wrote it stark
Naked, as a naturist in a camp;
In bright sunlight,
Not in the night,
Not by a lamp.
But one must not make crude
Assumptions about the choice
Of instrumentation, the orchestration.
It is the human voice,
And the words, on which one must concentrate,
The idea of repressed violence and fear.
One doesn't think of Bela as being wild
Or even wildish,
So one must always hesitate
Before being childish,
And writing silly verse.
This sort of behaviour - hanging around,
Exposing while composing,
We attribute more often to his contemporary Percy Grainger,
Who was no stranger
To nudity and self flagellation and worse.