Sunday, 28 November 2010

One Night

So much to think about, so far to go.
The only image that remains is of
Following the tyre-tracks across the snow.

Cold? Perhaps it was, for all I know.
However, all that matters here is love:
So much to think about, so far to go.

The way was slippery, the going, slow.
This one thing counted: I was on the move,
Following the tyre-tracks across the snow.

The future turned on one event, or so
It felt to me, then, when push came to shove:
So much to think about, so far to go,
Following the tyre-tracks across the snow.

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

The Two Zappas

I've never been a Frank Zappa fan. Goodness, I've tried. I even went to see him in Manchester in the seventies. However, I am a newly converted fan of Francesco Zappa, his 18th Century almost-namesake. So was Frank. He was overjoyed to discover Francesco (the similarity was a coincidence) and made an album using his music.

This is a movement from Francesco's String Trio Opus 3 No 6, which I've rendered electronically. I was in the process of arranging it for 3 guitars. However, I decided the music just didn't fit comfortably on that instrument and so as not to waste the work I'd done on it, I decided to make this version. That's not the only reason: Francesco Zappa deserves a wider audience and, as I didn't have a string trio handy to play it, this was the only option...

Francesco Zappa by Dominic Rivron

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Paul Edis

Last night, we went to the Opus 4 jazz club in Darlington -an oasis of cultural excellence if ever I saw one- to see the Paul Edis Sextet. This is an expanded version of The Paul Edis Trio which plays all over the North of England. If you live there, and get a chance, go and see them. They're fantastic.

Their set included a startlingly Monk-like tribute to Thelonious Monk and an arrangement of Bud Powell's Un Poco Loco. The latter was one of the first bits of jazz I ever seriously encountered. Years ago, a friend gave me a pile of mostly unmarked "car tapes". The music on them blew me away, and I only gradually discovered, years later, who the artists on them were. One was Thelonious Monk and one was Bud Powell playing Un Poco Loco, among other things:

Before that, I have to admit, the only jazz I'd really encountered was Kenny Ball and his Jazzmen on The Morcambe and Wise Show. (Although they're not my cup of tea, they are, unbelievably, still at it!). Oscar Peterson was on TV a lot then, too, but I was a young, serious prig in those days, and the glitz and showmanship put me off. (OK, I'll say it before anyone else does: I suppose, now, I'm an old serious prig). I knew, vaguely, that all kinds of interesting music existed between the worlds of Kenny B and free improv, but had never taken the time to find out about it. Where I studied music they never showed you how to do this with a piano, a cig and a hankie. Thelonious Monk:

Saturday, 6 November 2010


Quite by accident I found myself listening to yet more serene music played on a virtually extinct string instrument. In the last post it was the baryton: here it's the theorbo, played by the Swedish lutenist/guitarist Jonas Nordberg. Thanks to The Classical Guitar Blog for drawing my attention to it.

Monday, 1 November 2010

What are you doing in the Piano?

Apologies for not being around for a while. I'm still very busy, what with teaching and playing - not to mention going on holiday to Wales.

I've just been arranging a movement from a Haydn Baryton Trio for three guitars (for three pupils - I've published it on my other blog). I had a look on Youtube to see if I could find the movement I'd arranged - but I couldn't. I found another, though, which I hope illustrates why I don't think there are many composers better than Haydn. Not only is there is a wonderful sense of proportion in his music, but there's a good-naturedness to it, which always seems to shine through. Interestingly, people who knew him used to say what a thoroughly nice chap he was.

Getting a bit carried away, I thought I'd search Youtube for one of my favourite bits of Haydn, and I found it. His Symphony No 6, "Morning", begins with what I think is one of the best portrayals of the dawn in music. The sun rises, in a stately fashion, with strings. Then the birds start singing, in the form of the woodwind. No crude imitations of birdsong, just an impression.

The Burlington Chamber Orchestra is directed by Michael Hopkins:

I don't think translations of Sanskrit were around in Haydn's day (the earliest European translations I've heard of were 19th Century) but I like to think he would have approved of this poem. It certainly goes very well with the opening of the Symphony. I read somewhere that it was by the Sanskrit poet, Kalidasa (who I know very little about):

Salutation to the Dawn

Look to this day!
For it is life, the very life of life,
In its brief course
Lie all the verities and realities of your existence
The bliss of growth
The glory of action
The splendor of beauty.

For yesterday is but a dream
And tomorrow is only a vision,
But today well lived makes every yesterday
A dream of happiness
And every tomorrow a vision of hope.

Look well, therefore, to this day!
Such is the salutation of the dawn. 


And, almost finally, from the sublime to the ridiculous.In case you don't know, the title of the post the first line of a very old musical joke:

Ist person: What are you doing in the piano?
2nd person: I'm hidin'.
1st person: No you're not, Haydn died years ago!


And finally, completely off the subject, (and this shows how long it is since I last blogged) isn't the Poetry Bus Magazine good?