In my last blog for Drystone.co I wrote about how I go about making up a piece of music and what I try to achieve. In this one I will try to explain the motivation and inspiration behind the works.
I mentioned that I began composing music a while ago and my memory tells me I was just trying to make pieces that pleased me and that I could play on the piano. As a result, they were short and very simple. I didn’t even think of playing them to anybody.
My musical life was more oriented towards performance, mainly clarinet which I started playing at secondary school thanks to an inspirational music teacher, Alan Wragg, who provided we musicians with lots of playing opportunities. He persuaded me, along with my friend Peter, to perform Stranger On The Shore, a big hit at the time for dear Acker Bilk, at the prestigious school Speech Day. We were still in the first year at that school.
So, for seven years playing my clarinet was the thing. At University I was required to compose some substantial works for my degree. Later, colleagues inspired me to write shows, one such was a pop musical based on the Robin Hood tale. This was called Rockin’ Robin which went down well with the pupil performers and brought together many teachers who helped in the production.
For many years composition skills took second place to arranging and performing. Until my great friend John Tams asked me to join him in a new venture, Drystone, set up to encourage and help develop creativity in Derbyshire and beyond. My main role was to be as composer. I was flattered and thrilled to be involved.
Not only that but it started me off composing again. Talk about inspiration! John has encouraged me to write a range of pieces from the half-finished Derbyshire Suite for full orchestra and based around Derbyshire songs and tunes to a piano rag-time piece which I called Mister Rag (can you see what I did there)? John has acted as motivator and by commissioning works and suggesting starting ideas, has truly fulfilled the aims of Drystone, on its own doorstep. The Drystone Waltz which you hear on the website was another new piece to emerge from this collaboration. John has planted the seeds for so many pieces I will be busy all next year completing them.
Covid lockdown meant lots of time to sit at the computer indulging in the fun task of building musical work. I must also thank the software I use called Sibelius, a very useful tool for composers and arrangers. The sound quality is pretty good for some instruments but obviously doesn’t compare to real musicians and instruments. Maybe one day we will have an orchestra to perform the premiere of the Derbyshire Suite. Fingers crossed eh?