Categories
Music

Scarborough Fair

The traditional folk song, Scarborough Fair, dates back to Medieval times and refers to an old fair in Scarborough, Yorkshire. The market fair included traders, merchants, entertainers and food vendors, starting from the 14th century until the 18th century. Today, several fairs are held in remembrance of the original.

‘Scarborough Fair’ Lyrics

The lyrics in ‘Scarborough Fair’ are about unrequited love; a man trying to attain his true love. The young man requests impossible tasks from his former lover, saying that if she can perform them, he will take her back. In return, she requests impossible tasks of him, saying she will perform hers when he performs his. In the Middle Ages, the herbs mentioned in the song represented virtues that were important to the lyrics. Parsley was comfort, sage was strength, rosemary was love and thyme was courage.

Simon and Garfunkel’s Version

“Paul Simon learned the song in 1965 while visiting British folk singer Martin Carthy in London. Art Garfunkel adapted the arrangement, integrating elements of another song Simon had written called “Canticle,” which in turn was adapted from yet another Simon song, “The Side of a Hill.””

History of the Folk Song ‘Scarborough Fair’ – LiveAbout

My Version

In my re-imagined/re-composed version and recording of the traditional tune, thought was given to the costume and the videography. During the editing light balance and overall visual appearance were adjusted to convey a dreamlike, fairytale atmosphere. When I was recording the vocals it seemed, at times, as though I was fighting an invisible enemy. This gave my voice a different quality: (a) a sense of weak, youthful innocence similar to a feeling of indolence (Scarborough Fair), (b) a strong, macho/masculine presence similar to a military officer recounting events on a battlefield (Canticle).

Click here for the video: Scarborough Fair/Canticle

Categories
Poetry

‘A Natural Virtuoso!’

I went to the National Poetry Library in London earlier this year. I was on a mission: to find out which magazines published similar poetry to mine. For the next two hours I looked at everything that was available. All, bar one, had absolutely no poems about music — not even remotely! In my first poetry book ‘Soaring Higher’ (see ‘books’ page) there are six full length poems with such tasty flavours!

This poem is about a musician — and no ordinary musician at that — but a Virtuoso. “But what is a Virtuoso?” I hear you cry. According to Grove Music Online:

Virtuoso ( It., from Lat. virtus : ‘excellence’, ‘worth’ ) A person of notable accomplishment; a musician of extraordinary technical skill. In its original Italian usage (particularly in the 16th and 17th centuries) ‘virtuoso’ was a term of honour reserved for a person distinguished in any intellectual or artistic field: a poet, architect, scholar etc. A virtuoso in music might be a skilful performer, but more importantly he was a composer, a theorist or at least a famous maestro di cappella. In the late 17th and 18th centuries a great number of Italian”

“A Natural Virtuoso!”

“Just a few words I’ve penned over tea

That I hope will warm your heart and bless

Who in all the wide-world could it be?

An appreciative music lover no less…”

A piece of music that requires virtuosic technique is J. S. Bach’s famous showstopper: Toccata and Fugue in D minor. Fragments of the Toccata are included in a video of myself performing the poem.

For the full poem click here: A Natural Virtuoso!

This video is one of eighteen poems available in my VideoBook. Click here for more details: Soaring Higher (videobook)

Categories
musical poetry

‘The Ultimate Renewed Environment’

What are your thoughts and opinions on the world around us? Are you happy or content with life, the universe and everything? What would you change? Considering the history of everything around us, would you change anything and everything? Do you long for everything to be perfect? And, do you want this to never end?

In my poem, The Ultimate Renewed Environment, I include an interpretation of the universal state beyond the end of the world.

The Ultimate Renewed Environment”

At the end of time

When the new order has begun

And everything as we know it

Has been changed in the twinkling of an eye…”

The music in this video is Beethoven’s 5th symphony. Although the piece is known world-over for its ‘fate knocking at the door’ opening, the second movement is comparatively serene, with elements of a longing tranquility. As if to say that there is a beautiful existence beyond cosmic judgement that will be well — very well, indeed!

For the complete musical version of this poem, click: The Ultimate Renewed Environment

Categories
musical poetry

‘My Peace’

Quotes about ‘peace’ from the worldwide-web:

“People have been trying by all means to gain peace. Therefore history of human beings, in one aspect, is the history of searching for peace. Peace has been talked, thought, taught and studied in many ways and many aspects”

“It means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart”

“tranquility with harmony”

“love”

“authenticity”

“intuition”

“freedom from disquieting or oppressive thoughts or emotions”

“the state of peace within man himself that means there is no conflict inside one‘s mind’

Below is the first verse of my poem about peace followed by the full YouTube musical verson.

“My Peace”

🍊  Before my eyes open in the morning

        At the instance of emerging from sleep

        Even before I am aware of anything external

        I experience something so powerful and so deep…”

The music in the audiobook version of this poem, as here, is Erik Satie’s Gymnopedie No. 1.

Click here for the full poem: My Peace

Categories
Music

Greensleeves + 3 Variations

After this traditional tune, I play three variations on the piano. I composed these variations in 2020.

Analysis:

Variation 1

The title of variation 1, is: “The Twos”. This name comes from a two-note chord in the right hand which acts as punctuation, whilst the left hand plays the melody in the lower part of the keyboard emulating a sonorous cello. These two-note chords are a tone or semitone apart throughout, except on one occasion. These rather terse sounding chords are always forced. The whole variation sounds like a tussle between mellow and sour.

Variation 2

The title of variation 2, is: “The Slide”.  In this variation, the left hand literary slides up and down the keyboard as fast as possible. After each slide, the right hand plays a single note which is held for a judged length of time, acting as a distinct contrast to the quick notes of the sliding left hand. The struck single notes are held depressed for as long as artistically possible. Imagine these notes being played on the down bow of a violin. NB: the slides are flamboyant, free and need not be accurate.

Variation 3

The title of variation 3, is: “The Agitator alla Toccata”. A translation of this would be: “to be played agitatedly in a manner where touch and virtuosic technique is required”. This is firmly a postmodern variation on the traditional Greensleeves tune. The pulsating left hand hammers out the melody and combines obsessively repeating notes at certain key junctures with continuous sweeps of passagework. It can be seen, and heard, as relentless driving machine-like kinetic movements at a moderately fast pace. Although the right hand retains some resemblance to the vertical movement of the melody, the notes are dissonant. On their own, one could hear a logic but, when played with the left hand the whole piece almost does not make sense. Highly entertaining with an emphatic end.

Click here to hear me play: Greensleeves + 3 Variations

Categories
Poetry

‘This is the Month – Eastertide

Facts around the writing of this poem:

In the Spring of 1990 I set about writing a poem about Easter with the intention of having it published in a journal that would be available at that time. When the poem was eventually finished, it was without ‘Eastertide’ in the title. Although I had virtually no church attendance since childhood, I found myself including elements of the Easter story.

Then, before summer was in full swing, some Christians started to befriend me. They were from a local church canvassing the area. I was eventually invited to a Sunday morning meeting and someone named Colin Spurdle was due to pick me up. However, for a good reason he forgot and said he would come the following week. That Sunday came and I was so eager to go that I decided to go by myself. I have now been attending the same church for thirty years, plus.

During my years at this church, the poem was redrafted, extended and finally finished.

“This Is The Month — Eastertide”

“This is the month

When they say that it rains and pours

Down come the showers

From heaven’s open doors…”

I hope you enjoy this extract: “This Is The Month — Eastertide”

Categories
Poetry

‘The Garden of Eden’

This rhyming poem is based on the Biblical events that took place in the Garden of Eden — and includes a reading of the future. When writing these verses, care was taken to adhere to the fidelity and the sequence of events as given in the Bible.

The music that goes with this poem is the Elizabethan Serenade by Ronald Binge. It is light and grandiose with such positive, live giving vigour.

The Garden of Eden”

“God created the garden of Eden

A pure unspoiled paradise

An ordered beautiful landscape

That could grow and increase in size…”

For the first verse of this poem, click: The Garden of Eden

Categories
Poetry

‘Swaying, Swaying in the Breeze’

It was a windy May afternoon when I was walking down the garden path. I happened to notice, it seemed for the first time, an array of beautiful flowers in bloom. Maybe it was their swaying that caught my attention. Anyway, I stopped for a closer look and saw bumble-bees indiscriminately landing on them; one, then the other. To capture this nature in action, I made a video recording with my phone.

The following morning this scene, with words, was going round my head, and before breakfast the poem was complete.

The music I paired with the poem, Beethoven’s Pathétique Sonata, echoes the back and forth movement of the flowers. For added imagination, one could imagine dancing ladies instead of flowers.

Swaying, Swaying in the Breeze”

“Swaying, swaying in the breeze

Dancing, dancing beneath tall tree

Moving another way in slight air

So handsome, so pretty, so fair

Hues and shades, rare and fine

What invention, what design…”

Click here for: Swaying, Swaying in the Breeze

Categories
Music

Antonia

I composed this song in 2021, earlier this year.

The Story Behind ‘Antonia’

One evening I was on a Zoom call with about a dozen other people. Some I knew from previous occasions, some new. There was a particular woman I had not seen before — her name was Antonia. She was elegant: stylish attire, clipped back brunette curly hair on one side and Queen’s english reinforcing her intelligent utterances. She must have spoken only about four sentences the entire time. But I was infatuated!

During the next week or so I started writing a poem with Antonia in mind. The intention was to include it in a poetry book. The morning after I completed it, I found that there was music in my mind to go with the words. And so, during that day I sat down at the piano and sketched out the notes on the keys. To polish off the composition, I wrote out the music on my laptop. Along the way, I decided to make the music fifty bars long — her exact age.

Analysis

Before we hear the voice singing, we have an introduction that begins with a downward, calm serenity. It continues with a ‘hop-skip-and-jump’ figuration representing the gaiety of youthful love, and/or the plucking of the heart strings. Then the singer announces the object of love: “Antonia!” The song then continues with poetic flows with injections of: “Antonia!”

After the singing, we have an ascending and descending passage depicting running up the mountain (where he meets his love and sings) and the running down.

When the opening bars are repeated at the end, they take on a happy nostalgia with a softer conclusion.

For my recording of this song, click hear: Antonia

Categories
Fine Art

South Norwood Baptist Church

 !taste This ecclesiastical black and white desiGn.

Computerised monochrome in GOTHIC baron flavours. It’s All in the square – action.

Recommendation:

Try experiencing this image in a multitude of different ways — any which way you can. Let your imagination be the limit. Jump in and be immersed with thunderous organ music in glorious surround sound for the full effect — the louder, the better. Johann Sebastian Bach’s Passacaglia and Fugue in C minor BWV 582 always reaches parts in other people — just try not to laugh — especially at concerts. Full-stop.

South Norwood Baptist Church Art & Design No. 29

And here are the first few bars of the music to get you in the mood: