Sunday, July 31, 2005

New Puritan

Another difficult week, all kinds of financial pressures pressing down on all my other commitments, hence another big cache of pieces to post. I missed out on Friday, as I got waylaid in the evening, but hey, a boy has to have some fun, and I did two yesterday to make up for it. Call it Puritan guilt.

Monday, July 25, 2005


A combination of all kinds of work and computer troubles has left me a bit behind here, I haven't been neglecting my piece-a-day challenge though, so here's a big catch-up for the past week or so...

Friday, July 15, 2005

One Week on...

No words. What words can there be?

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

I wrote an email to the Director General of the BBC today asking him if he thought it was perhaps inappropriate that upper management were being awarded enormous bonuses paid from public money while nearly 4000 employees face the sack as the DG says they cost too much and we need to save money. I don't expect a reply, still, better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.

Otherwise I continue work on the orchestral piece I'm writing for Kensington Symphony Orchestra (of which more anon) and I'm also starting to scribble down a few ideas for comics for various upcoming publications. Here's a character design I did yesterday (for someone else's script). I shan't say any more than that it's going to be... disturbing.

(image copyright 2005 by me!)

Sunday, July 10, 2005

There's been a lot of stuff in the media about the tremendous will of Londoners to return to normal life as quickly as possible, but what else are we supposed to do? Stay at home for the rest of our lives? If I want to go anywhere, the scale of this city is such that I have to use trains/tubes/buses. Enfield to Shepherd's Bush is not an easily walkable journey. And let's face it, the risk of being blown up on the tube on Friday was probably lower than it's been for years. So it's back to normal; long silences between commuters almost hidden by the screech and clatter of wheels on worn tracks. Londoners united in their determination not to speak to strangers on a train.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

After the bombs

I never really saw the point of most blogs, or saw any reason for me to publish one. Who on earth would be interested in my generally not particularly insightful or informed thoughts? And wouldn't it be tremendously presumptuous of me to imagine anyone would be?

At this point, I should mention that I'm a composer - not a particularly successful one, but a composer nevertheless - and of course if I'd thought about it for a few minutes I'd realise that that's exactly the presumptuous thought that I, or any creative artist, has every time he or she produces something that, for want of a better term, I shall call a work of art.

I've long had a vague, ill-defined gripe about the position of composers in the world, especially what seems to me to be the insularity of the whole business. I've met many people in the so-called serious music business and grown increasingly frustrated at the levels of complacency and the lack of any sense of duty to the wider world beyond the cosy smug coterie of "contemporary classical music" (whatever that means).

These sort of thoughts came back into my rambling and frankly drunken mind a couple of nights ago. There was an incident in London that day (you may have heard about it on the news) and, having thanked my lucky stars that my train had pulled into Liverpool Street on time for once that morning, so that I was a good 10 minutes down the Central Line when the bomb went off, I'd decided the best course of action in the uncertain atmosphere was, rather then attempt a potentially difficult journey back home to Enfield, I'd impose on my brother's hospitality in Wimbledon. So, much booze later, I was sitting on his couch watching the TV, where among other pundits Will Self was sitting on a couch discussing the aftermath of the attacks. And it occurred to me that there was no way a composer would ever be asked onto such a discussion. A writer, certainly, a painter maybe, hell, Bono and Bob Geldoff have been all over the telly this last week talking about Africa, but anyone involved in so-called contemporary classical music (which I'll abbreviate to SCCCM from now on)? Of course they wouldn't be asked, and why should they?

So I started to think, how does a composer try and offer a reaction to the world? And the answer, it seems to me, is to forget about trying to produce some finely polished work of art, and just get something written down and out into the world. Don't worry about whether it's tremendously well crafted or cleverly constructed or whatever, the idea is to get something out there quickly. You can always refine and reuse the ideas later in something more reflective.

And then I realised that what I was thinking of was essentially a diary. I've been scribbling tiny ideas down in a notebook for a while now, which I've always thought of as diary entries - little scraps of ideas and thoughts, which may or may not germinate into something more significant, the point being simply to write stuff. Or, in the words of Elisabeth Lutyens, "If you're a composer, bloody well compose."

And once you're talking about a diary which is distributed widely, well, that's as good a definition of a blog as any. So here's mine. Apologies to Joe Sacco, from whom I stole the title, and here's the little piece I scribbled down either side of midnight on the 7th/8th of July. The idea is I'll post up bits of music on a regular basis, possibly along with the odd random thought I've had or cartoon I might have drawn. But I've no real plan for this, just to see what happens.

If you've managed to wade through all the above waffle, I hope this bit of music isn't too disappointing. I imagine it being played on the piano, but do whatever you like with it, although if you're going to use it in some sort of creative project of your own it'd be nice to know about it. And if you're going to make money from your use of it, well I'll be wanting a chat about getting a cut. I'm not that altruistic.