Signature Sound

Each whale has one song - and this they repeat as their ID. It can evolve over a lifetime, and sometimes a pod of whales synchronises their song, but each individual's version is never identical. We humans think we have many songs, but the reality is that we have only one true heart-song and all the rest are variations on it.

I have been thinking about this over the last 9 months as I have been evolving an idiom for my current opera project: As I was going to Strawberry Fair. The answer always seems to emerge after a process of subconsciousness reconciliation between one's native inner voice and the musical context in which you wish the result to be heard. Yet ultimately, if I look back over my music I find there are consistent, if constantly evolving, harmelodic patterns - a preference for evoking certain qualities of sound & feeling in music, which must qualify as 'my song' when taken as a whole. In Indian music this would be described as a rasa, a flavour or essence. You could compare it to the unique odour each of us gives off.

I am frequently accused of making things too hard. If I write for people I know I tune into them, but there is noone then I write what I hear. With known collaborators I can easily adapt my ideas, indeed much prefer to model something directly for the capacities of an actual human being: but since that isnt an option that my solitary life often yields I feel free to write what I hear, as-it-were for an optimum performer, rather than for the specific limitations of an individual. Unfortunately this tends to result in difficulties for performers. So if more of them made themselves available it would be easier all round ...!

One of the 'decisions' I had to make was exactly what height of brow to pitch the opera at. I found all my initial ideas came out as a bit cheap & cheesy. There's nothing wrong in this per se, except that if one is pitching to the popular end of the musical market things can never be cheap & cheesy enough since the whole thing is entertainment-driven - moreover the market /audience is so segmented by social & idiomatic prejudices I couldnt feel any musical /moral centrewhere my own musical authenticity could ground itself in a collective (musical) awareness. I therefore needed to allow the process of refining my ideas to continue until I felt that what was emerging was calculated to appeal some-how/where/when to the great tradition of opera.

The other point of contention in my mind was, and has always been, the conflict between the natural voice & the produced voice. The essential point is that I'd like my work to be sung by natural voices; however noone who hasnt had training can sing my music, ergo I cannot avoid trained voices. 

As I was going to Strawberry Fair is a working title. The piece is my attempt to express the cognitive dissonance between the magical world of imagination and beauty where people are open to each other (which is the Glastonbury/Avalon of our dreams) and the workaday world of money & contracts where people seem to consider themselves unfettered by any principle of compassion or cooperation. IMO finding a way to pitch this light against the engulfing darkness is a calling for everyone on a spiritual path.

The control which computers have given those who manage money means that more and more of human society can be controled by those who hold the purse strings. People must be taught that they have the power of individuality. It is not obligatory to surrender your existence to a bourgeois concept of career and comfort. To me whatever Glastonbury signifies, for better or worse, it is that there are people for whom the spiritual search is paramount. From where I am it sometimes feels as if noone is searching, but it's important to remind oneself that whatever the adharmic present there is, and has always been a solid core of men and women of goodwill who are seriously searching for their way to connect with the spiritual heart of existence.

To those people my piece is dedicated. Whether I have penetrated to & exprest the deepest archetype/s with my music I may never know. Is there a resonant truth within it? Validation would be a great bonus. There are so many questions I would ask the future, but I just have to put my hand in the hand of my saviour/s and trust.

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