the cmrc blog

Showing posts from November 2015
  • Posted on 13 November 2015

    The Song of Abigail (1986) is a melodrama. Not in the sense of the moustache twirling nonsense of the Victorian melodrama, but in the 18th century sense of spoken text with music. There are a few major 20th century pieces of this sort – such as Debussy’s Le Martyre de Saint Sebastian and Schoenberg’s Ode to Napoleon. And of course there is Pierrot Lunaire (Schoenberg’s not mine) which is described as a melodrama, and has a bit of both definitions – spoken text (sort of) and histrionic performance. The Song of Abigail has some singing in it, but most of the text is spoken, in order to tell a quite intricate story very clearly.

  • Posted on 6 November 2015

    Songwriter David Breslin, replying to my first Words and Music blog, raised the issue of Latin settings: “Whenever I set a poem in English to music, it seemed only fair to make the words as clear as possible. This ruled out or made tricky many kinds of musical device, and made the idea of writing my own ‘text’ simultaneously with the music too tempting to resist. And yet, I certainly have no objection to hearing complex polyphonic Latin settings!”

  • Posted on 2 November 2015

    We seem to be an accident prone lot here at York. A few months ago the composer David Lancaster fell off his bike resulting in a broken shoulder, cracked collarbone and two broken fingers in the winter ice. I nodded sagely when he told me of his injuries, a fellow biker, almost succumbing to the winter ice a couple of times myself.  I offered sympathy and understood the resulting injuries would leave him home bound with no way to get around. Luckily as David announces elsewhere on his post it turned out to be a fruitful time of rest resulting in new approaches to his own music.

  • Posted on 1 November 2015

    What is the sound of white?

    Edmund de Waal, the ceramic artist whose eloquent porcelain installations are inextricably bound up with this colour, asks the question early in The White Road, but offers no answer.

    I am no synaesthete; I am no more able to respond than de Waal. In any case, the question is, strictly speaking, nonsensical. But it is an intriguing proposition. If we could hear the colour of milk and snow and clouds and sunlight, what music would it make?