I recently had a new listener tell me how much they would’ve liked to have cover-notes for the track listings on the first album. This was not only an oversight on my part but, also not a part of the format for uploading the album through my digital music distributer Songcast. Perhaps it warrants inclusion to the upload process? Other than that I couldn’t fault them. Thus, concerning my album Suffolk Skies, I write a little (or a lot) about the individual tracks:
Suffolk Skies; The title track to the album finds the listener immediately immersed in the theme. I crafted no introduction in order to emulate the way one simply comes upon the skyline or vista and, by looking at it, is instantly a part of it. Having traveled across most of Suffolk over the years, I let the general sense of grandeur come out in this piece. It is largely romantic with a touch of drama, like coming around a bend and suddenly seeing a gorgeous view.
East Anglian Rhapsody; A rhapsody is any work that coveys strong emotional depth, and follows an ‘episodic’ form. The East Anglian Region should be a celebrated part of the country, not only for agriculture and industry, but also for its gentle beauty and subtle drama. I felt the sounds of this piece reflected how we all feel about our region, pride, appreciation, and acknowledgment of the depth and breadth of what the region has to offer.
At the Breakers; I had initially thought of calling this piece the North Sea splash. Upon reflection I decided to focus artistically on the breakwaters and (usually) gentle wavecrests. The beaches here in Southwold, unless pummeled by storm, are calm…at least in comparison with those of the Pacific. I am priveleged to hear the waves in the distance from where I live and used that sound to form the undulations in the arpeggios. In this way the piece expressed the overall regularity of splash but also includes a bit of the surprise when an unexpected tide turns or a wave looms larger than anticipated.
Romance in C Maj.; This one was written as a dedication to my partner. I followed a simple ‘riff’ on the piano and the arrangement fell quickly into place.
The Norfolk Cantabile; There are many links between Southwold and Norwich; arts, business, shopping, banking, and tourism. As one drives past the northerly edge of Suffolk, very quickly does the Norfolk landscape give way to broad open fields. The flatter terraine extends to the horizon and that visual invitation to look miles into the distance is reflected in the simplicity of the cantabile.
Sotterly Road; I set about composing this piece after a delightful drive with an old friend. Rather than the known route home I took a little detour and we enjoyed the curves, narrowings, and openings whilst on this country lane. Set in a light jazz format, the cello adds depth and sonority while the piano engages the cheerful sentiment that drives (pardon the pun) this work.
Venerable Morning; Every morning brings a new day, and it is a miracle or a gift which warrants adulation. The process of waking isn’t always easy, and leaving the comfort of one’s warm bed to begin facing the challenges of everyday life don’t always feel like a gift. But, the morning begins, and to a great extent, the day is yours to meet. Hence, a piece to venerate the early hours of the day.
Reydon Pastorale;Reydon is a lovely little town with its own charms. It is a close-knit community with a fairly good proportion of people who regularly attend church. One can hear this in the overall form of the pastorale, as I thought of the good neighbours, close ties, and strong moral fibre that characterise the town.
Southwold Repose; Lullaby in F Ma.; I wrote this to serve as an ‘adult’s lullaby.’ Of course, living and working here for residents can be a vigorous endeavour. But, I was thinking of my memories as a tourist and how relaxing is can be to visit the town. I hope you find the piece relaxing and sonorous.
Nursemaid’s Green; I recall many a time when I saw a child or children at play under the watchful of mother or grandmother in the little park in Southwold. For anyone, such a sight must also bring back memories of being looked after whilst exploring the world in play. It grants memories of being a child. For such reasons did I write this piece, trying to emulate the sentiment of feeling safe whilst playing on the grass of the tiny park.
Wind over Wheat; Fields of wheat crop are a common sight throught the county of Suffolk and, indeed, across all of England. It is, of course, an ancient agricultural practise on which all modern civilisation is built. It is a timeless sight to behold and the piece conveys the delicacy of a breeze brushing over the tops of the crop which makes the wheat heads dance to form larger patterns. The same effect may be seen, naturally, over grassy meadows. Something to marvel and give pause for, wouldn’t you agree?
Autumn Birds May Flock; a.k.a. As Starlings Amass; What a sight when, in autumn, the Starlings group and gather to perform their skilled and varied shapes en-mass! I suppose it is called flocking and they are testing their social interactions and preparation for migration. But, what a mysterious and magnificent sight to watch the amorphous and undulating forms they create together. The repeating bass note which opens this piece serves as the mysterious call that brings them together. Then, the first chords and very tightly packed, and the mystery of their group flight exercise plays out. I hope you find the piece a suitable representation of this incredible phenomenon.
Summer Sonnet; One of my Mother’s all time favourites she found it to be a source of great cheer. I hope you agree that it provides a happy sound and I meant it as a tribute to the lovely moments/hours when Summer is at its best. There’s no place finer than England when the weather is pleasant! And if the weather isn’t obliging may you find strength to create your own internal sunshine.
Piano Concerto #1, 1st mov’t; I was walking from the Southwold Pier toward Easton Bavents when phrases and themes for the concerto came to me. I rushed back home, abandoning the walk, to get some of the ideas down on paper. The process of outlining song, and then colouring the work with harmony and texture reminded me so firmly of the process of drawing. Hence, I dedicated the concerto to my Mother who did wonderful animal portraiture. We each wondered how the other could accomplish their respective art forms. Hers was a mystery to me, and, mine also to her. Inspired by a walk, and voila, pen to paper the work seemed to write itself through me. I nicknamed the full concerto ‘The Etherial’ because of that.
Sunset Celebration; We enjoy very languid and often stunning sunsets at this northerly lattitude. Because the setting of the sun ends the day, I chose this as a final track for the album. I hope the metaphor in sound works for the listener as well. The piece is highly patternated, but changes mood slightly as it moves forward. Music, for most people relates closely to sight and mood. I tried to craft a shift in tone – from bright to maudlin to dark – in a positive way to finish the piece with the optimism of a return journey across the sky to, again, appreciate the setting of the sun over the North Sea horizon.