It’s Sunday!

churchbellToday, for the most part, I was grumbling about the thought of having to go shopping. A tussle between opposing wills – you HAVE to go, no I don’t WANT to go – which got quite heated. Until, that is, I realized it was a Sunday and not a Saturday. Working so hard on finishing the score of my new piece I had lost a day. (Well that’s nothing – I also discovered an entire meal that I thawed out yesterday in the microwave but forgot to eat…….). Of course, now I have one day less for finalizing everything, but that loss is more than compensated for by the delicious fact, thanks to the Christian religion, of not being able to go shopping. The sun is shining, yes, but I think I will just IMAGINE a walk. And with all this lack of exercise I have been having lately, I am rapidly losing weight – another compensation………..

I am very pleased with à la mémoire for vibraphone and piano. It was written for Miguel Bernat and Ananda Sukarlan who will give the première in July, in Spain. The piece was almost complete even before I discussed the possibility of a performance, so this time I am spared all that anxiety about “writing something suitable”. Though of course I am deeply concerned about communicating with the common man etc.

The title (which floated into my head as I was reclining on the couch in the room above, where I compose) is a reference to a work by my former teacher Giuseppe Sinopoli. I remember him talking about his Souvenirs à la mémoire many years ago in Venice. I am just not sure whether I ever actually HEARD the piece.

I had been thinking about the ethos of my new work and fiddling around with various titles in my mind. I could appreciate that it was quite somber, yet, also gently wistful. I thought of the word lament and then all of a sudden the French title just, as I say, floated into my mind. It seemed appropriate.
Of course, I should add that I believe absolutely in Stravinsky’s views about music and expression…..

“For I consider that music is, by its very nature, essentially powerless to express anything at all, whether a feeling, an attitude of mind, a psychological mood, a phenomenon of nature, etc….”

Oh my goodness, yes, how true this is. In reality, music is not expressive at all. It is no more expressive than athletics. Does anybody care whether a discus thrower is expressing himself? We want to know how far he can fling that thing, that’s all. And we want to know if a pianist can get to the top of the keyboard without any lumps in his scales. Double thirds all round. Chromatic ones if you like. Personally I think of a dominant 7th as a sort of lapsed triad – a loose 4th finger could easily account for that F if we are in C, or that Bb if we are in F.

Music is sound. And painting is paint. Poetry is words and religion is sore knees. The world itself is sods of earth gummed together by green stuff we call grass. It’s all very simple if you think about it.

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