A composition for winter
Music | Visuals | Words
A composition for winter
Music | Visuals | Words
Don’t miss it!
Wrynose Pass is a mountain road in an English National Park called The Lake District. It has been described as Britain’s most difficult road.
During a photography holiday in this part of England I was coming to the end of a particular day. I had been driving far and wide to many locations with my camera, rural and otherwise.
The time was approaching sunset when I reached Devoke Water, the last location before returning to the B & B. Although I had been to this lake before, this second visit was a trifle peculiar… What was not different was the voices of the angels and the view of the lake itself, made extra special by the setting sun with all its colours.
After the photography I returned to the car and started to make my way back but, unlike the previous occasion some years earlier, the journey was marked by a thick, nocturnal atmosphere – and I had no idea what lay ahead.
The location I chose to film this poem was an almost forgotten road somewhere that reminded me of Wrynose Pass… but where’s the car!
The first verse:
I’m on my way back to my lodgings
Not long, I hope, ‘till I’m safely back
I set the SatNav and follow its commands
It’s getting darker and will soon be pitch black…”
The music I chose for the video is titled: Sonata quasi una fantasia (translates to: Sonata in the style of a Fantasy). Although the sonata is also known as the Moonlight Sonata, I wanted to bring out the drama and sense of fantasy when I recorded it on my piano. The recording of the music also went through a mysterious and eventful journey. The morning after I had made the final edit, I played it back on my HiFi. Immediately after this I turned the radio on and exactly the same movement from the same piece was being played.
Here is the first verse from my videobook: Wrynose Pass
One evening when it was warm I took a walk to the shops. It was still daylight and the atmospheric conditions were good. The lighting was that which accompanies the setting of the sun. However, it wasn’t the setting sun that caught my senses, glorious as it may have been, but the quality of the ambient light. It was as if I was looking through a veil.
As I walked home, I found myself thinking about the first line to a Shakespeare sonnet: Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day? (sonnet 18). Much of my preoccupation at the time concerned the sky – particularly writing about it. Within 24 to 48 hours I had drafted three poems about the sky. The feel of the first line of sonnet 18 lead me to write my first line: What is there in all creation…?
The ‘What Is There In All Creation…?’ poem is written in four verses, each verse with an ABBA rhyming form. That is: line 1 rhymes with line 4 and line 2 rhymes with line 3. At the time of composing the poem, I had no knowledge of any other poem written in this style. This knowledge came later.
‘What Is There In All Creation…?
What is there in all creation that can compare to the sky?
She, at times, can be quite calm as well as electrifying
Also, sometimes, conveys sadness and happiness — quite confusing
This is because she is pure and 3 times very high…’
In my videobook, the music that accompanies this poem is J. S. Bach’s Prelude No. 1 from his Well-Tempered Clavier, Book One.
Here is a video clip from the poem: What Is There In All Creation…? (verse 1)
For those willing to go further, the music that concludes the video is the Ave Maria by Gounod which is based on the Prelude.
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
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
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)
An art house photography production that could be in the style of Lewis Carroll. Amongst the different hats he wore were: Photographer and Author. The title of this video, Alison — Daughter of Alice, is my original idea, and taken from Carroll’s two books starring Alice. My thought here imagines Alice as having not a son, but a daughter — hence: Alison. And, just to put the cart before the horse, I wrote a poem about these images before making the video — the poem includes a line about the Alison / Alice relationship and adventures.
All the photographs include reflections and have been processed to high-key. The music had to be heavenly, and so I chose Karl Jenkins’ In Paradisum, making the video uniquely atmospheric. As with the Penge video I posted two weeks ago, the music here was recorded and mixed by myself. The finished footage was processed to the lowest quality at high resolution which, paradoxically, had an enhancing effect giving the video an ethereal quality.
The images in this video are from the Anerley and Penge area of South East London, England.
Click here for the Alison — Daughter of Alice video
Penge is my home town in the suburbs of South East London, England, and comes under the London Borough of Bromley. It is where I went to Secondary School, Sea Cadets as a teenager… and fell in love — many times!
After leaving Secondary School, I moved away from the area and lived in different locations. I returned to the area in 1990 and moved into my current Penge address in 2002. It was here that I completed my three-year Photomedia BA (Hons) degree — and this was only the beginning…
Since then: explosions in my artistic output, writing and publishing two paperbacks, narrating and producing two audiobooks, creating and producing a videobook, and the beginning of music composition.
The Penge Video
This video contains photographs of Penge: landmarks, parks, flowers, abstract sequences, skies, perspective photographs, signage, street art, nighttime scenes and music.
The music is my recording of W. A. Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 23, second movement, and recorded at home. To be more precise: I recorded the piano solo on my Broadwood acoustic piano, orchestral instruments on my Yamaha electronic keyboard and edited the recordings on my computer.