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Track of the week; why? how? so what?

Over the 2019 Christmas holiday I took stock of new music I was working on. There were around 100 compositions I quite liked and had recorded. There were another 150 which had potential but I wasn't succeeding in finishing. And nobody was listening. Why would they? There are thousands of new pieces released each day and the whole history of recorded music to listen to on line. There are some artists producing new music which I rate highly but life is usually too busy for me to follow their work. And I'm one of the lucky ones who has time to listen actively!

Nowadays I tend to listen to music on youtube mostly, even though I subscribe to Spotify. The sound quality isn't great but the visuals often make up for that and the range of stuff you can find tends to be wider. So I had the idea of putting some pictures with my music and building a mailing list so I could encourage more people to listen.

The idea to release one ilustrated track each week came soon after. There's something about the challenge and scale. One of my inspirations is the album "69 Love Songs" by the Magnetic Fields. The number and variety of those songs allows scope to take risks and the result is exciting, even though individually not every one is a classic. It also gets over the "big music, small music" dilemma but it's still a challenge to make it good enough; there's rarely any doubt that a short piece from one of Bach's suites is big music!

As the first few weeks unfolded the project taught me lots of things. One is that different people like different tracks, and the ones I'm not sure about often get the best response. The titles also seem to make a big difference to how people respond; of course many pieces don't have a title until I release them so finding the right one has grown in importance. Another thing is that adding visuals can complement music is a big way - but it can also be a distraction if you're not careful. I've found that visuals can also help complete a composition; rough out a film to a half finished track and it become more obvious what needs to be added or subtracted.

Some people have asked "where do you get the photos?" Where possible I use shots or film taken by me, my daughter Judy or friends and that makes up about 50%. The others are found by using an "advanced" google search for images which are free to use or share. Just go to "images" in your browser and choose "settings -> advanced search"

"Whistler" is..............

Fuzzy Logic is one of the favourite things I've written, because it gets to ideas which are often inaccessible. And the words reflect the music; jazz and the blues are brilliant examples of fuzzy thinking. Basically "fuzzy logic" is a way of dealing with uncertainty; if you're designing a system to deal with things which may be true but also may be false then you need something more than binary logic. One simple example is modern washing machines which decide as they go along how much detergent a load needs and how long it needs to be rinsed. Another is satnav programmes which adjust your route depending on traffic conditions.

Blues and jazz are built on ambiguity. The whimsical loser, the blue note, the swing syncopation which is hard to tie down. The strange thing is how it all fits together; the Mississippi delta which is neither land nor sea.

My first experience of Grizedale Forest was getting lost for hours in heavy rain. A compass isn't much use when you can't walk in any chosen direction due to dense trees and water hazards. The people who eventually showed us a way out said "don't worry, everyone gets lost here." A few years later I met head forester Bill Grant. Bill had the idea of putting landmarks around the forest to help people find their way. He decided to commission sculptors to create these landmarks; over 27 years he created one of the world's largest collections of sculture in landscape.

Track of the week


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