Archives for posts with tag: music
Opera House Haymarket edited

By Thomas Rowlandson (1756–1827) and Augustus Charles Pugin (1762–1832) (after) John Bluck (fl. 1791–1819), Joseph Constantine Stadler (fl. 1780–1812), Thomas Sutherland (1785–1838), J. Hill, and Harraden (aquatint engravers) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

And music

again. A new tip for setting limits
plenty, more besides. It’s all
there you hear the benefit
after a couple the other
way would be to try
put it back. Cue
the lights


I hope you enjoy today’s verse distilled from sentences off the interweb. No, I’m not quite sure what it is all about.

Cue the lights and the music, for sure.

BeadedQuill
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Pigeon krakow
By Kulmalukko (Own work) [CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)%5D, Dead pigeon via Wikimedia Commons

The evening of score

You will stand at a window
The clouds will part.
A dead pigeon will fall
down thud down at
your feet. The day will turn.
We now bar the exits.

Cower. Plead.
Waste your breath.


As mentioned last week, I have been expanding my Spotify playlists to include Grime and Rap. The latest is Trap (which as a term new to me I had to look up in the urban dictionary).

It is lazy of me to describe these tracks generically as ‘angry music’, but in contrast with ambient woodland meditation, on the surface they are. It was out of curiosity about this perceived musical-emotional attitude that I clicked on the playlists in the first place. And hallelujah! Because angry music is hard liquor from which I am enjoying a good drink at the moment.

The rhythmic beats and aggressive vocalisations takes my current writing along some highway with pace and fury. I recognise the creativity in compiling a whole song about ‘Shutup’ or ‘Shutdown’ or ‘Feed ’em to the Lions.’  In my time, I’ve struggled to configure resonant poems and pages about topics like disappointment, revenge, hope, personal and collective narrative. It’s there in these songs and many many people are moved by them. These Rap, Grime, Trap creators make it look easier and more fired to write such material than I’ve found it to be.

To my surprise, it’s the verse among the beats and aggression that makes me stop and listen. I jot down the lines I really like. Some blog appropriate ones include: “Tomorrow I’m going to come scoop you.” “Go on, then, go on.” “I’m so London; I’m so South.” “I used to wear Gucci, but I put it all in the bin. That’s not me.”

Granted, what I’m absorbing is commercialised and comfortably distant from my quiet, rented room with its pink lampshade and chintzy duvet cover. I acknowledge that I am not tough or ‘cool’ or ‘street’ or whatever. Not by the longest shot. I am a library geek who enjoys opera and symphony concerts. At the moment, I don’t drink, I spend my evenings doing press-ups and am reading Chinese poetry in translation and a volume of Afrikaans letters. In the words of JME, compared with the heavy flavours of the Rap, Grime and Trap world, I may have, “No taste, like vegan cheese.”

Here comes Skepta with ‘Track 5.’ Like other wanderers, he taps into his surrounding urban landscape, “Suffering from the dark psychosis”… “Just me and my cats and the foxes roaming the streets at night.” Through the song he treads London streets and the back alleys of one’s personal, vocational and creative direction. Such London street narratives take me back to the Museum of London’s Dickens exhibition of a few years ago. One of my favourite exhibits was an artist’s video. Footage of London streets was voiced over with Dickens’s descriptions of his night time wanderings around the city. Perhaps at some point this poet-storyteller Skepta and I really could wander London’s back streets. And after the meander, we could stop for tea.

It occurs to me – through the song we have already made the meander. And it’s now that time of the afternoon for tea. I have a choice of Waitrose English Breakfast or Fortnum and Mason’s Russian Caravan. Apparently Skepta also enjoys tea, just not the crumpets.

Grime! Grime! Feeling super. And coming next week with more poetry from the Spotify highway.

There will be a final page,
the faded note
and empty seats.
One day the concert hall
will be an office block
and after that a hospital.
Our hands
at the serenade
took home the note that fades.

blue pink birds illustration, vintage new year postcard, singing birds clip art, holly berries bird illustration, music conductor bird graphics


It’s spring again. The blossoms I wrote about last year came too early this year, even before January had concluded. I wasn’t ready for their exuberance and I wasn’t ready for what 2016 would bring.

Here starts a new season of public posts. ‘Jangle Between Jangle’ are words about working, living and trying to survive in the big smoke. Not all the verses are as gentle and nostalgic. I, die-hard BBC Radio Three devotee, have been listening to a lot of Grime Shutdown and Rap Caviar on Spotify. Please visit again soon for some grittier verse. In the meantime, may ‘There was a first time’ ease you in.

BeadedQuill
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With thanks to the Old Design Shop for the image of the vintage New Year’s postcard.

Edgar Degas - Orchestra Musicians - Google Art Project

“Orchestra Musicians” (1872/6) by Edgar Degas [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

From the archive, a poem about playing in an orchestra. If recollection serves me correctly, we may have been rehearsing a seldom performed Tchaikovsky symphony.

My ongoing relationship with music has also inspired:

And a – a poem with a boogie woogie beat
Nightstar of Sirius – written during a jazz concert
We stayed up late and waved our sticks about – as told to me by a fellow concert-goer while queuing for proms chamber recital tickets at Cadogan Hall
Nos Liberavit – a poem about the joy of song

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Books by BeadedQuill – Yours to own!

This image is from the October 1902 issue of “The Delineator” magazine and features courtesy of the Old Design Shop.

I love hearing about the antics of raucous older people – those humans who have made it to their eighties, nineties and beyond. I met Klara last year in a queue at the Cadogan Hall when we were both waiting to buy £5 day tickets for a Proms chamber concert. This was her story.

Poems inspired by sea creatures

This poem about scales is a mash-up of ideas about old flames and red herrings. Strangely, yesterday I also wrote about sea creatures. In ‘New ink cartridges‘ I paired cephalopods with writing in black ink.

The image of fish scales is courtesy of Wikicommons Media and photographed by Rajesh danji. View the original image here. You can view Rajesh’s work on his photo blog, Banglore Photo Daily.

Image

Image from the February 1912 issue of Pictorial Review, courtesy of the Old Design Shop, a vintage image treasury.

Preheat a deep pan of golden leaf.
In a large bowl split bitter chicory.
Lift out the notes that made sense
at the time. Turn up the heat.

When sulks and stews have almost evaporated,
You will have a sweet smelling slush.
Whizz to a powder, this interesting theme.
Return to the pan if you wish.

I was delighted to discover I am not the only creative to have derived inspiration from recipes. Yesterday, I was introduced to Leonard Bernstein’s “La Bonne Cuisine” (1947) on BBC Radio Three. Bernstein translated recipes from La Bonne Cuisine Française (by Emile Dutoit) and then scored them for voice and piano. The four pieces are Plum Pudding, Queues de Boeuf (Ox Tails), Tavouk Guenksis
and Civet à Toute Vitesse (Rabbit at Top Speed). They are most entertaining and worth a listen.

Here’s a clip of “La Bonne Cuisine – Four Recipes for Voice and Piano” being performed.

I tweet as @BeadedQuill about all manner of things that capture my imagination. BeadedQuill is also on Facebook.

Please also have a look at my latest book, In the Ocean: a year of poetry.

 

"Midnight Harp" by Esmira, on DeviantArt

Midnight Harp” by Esmira, on DeviantArt

Bell-like, round and clear
Hopeful and transparent 
as a copper bauble,
it lifts the congregation.
From the sanctuary 
the maiden’s voice soars
and plunges
as she elongates the siren call.

 

I am not a groupie. I’d rather spend my days in a hermit’s hut on a mountainside with books, green tea and yoga for company instead of people. I find people politics and inane conversation immensely annoying. But I keep seeking out institutionalised assemblies. In these experiences I find vestiges of tribal inheritances, which seem to inspire my creative work. At least, this is my theory as to why I keep seeking out groups and gatherings which jar with my loner’s soul. Being part of a martial arts academy is one example. Volunteering in various organisations and an ongoing relationship with institutions of learning, such as schools and universities, are others. Then there’s church attendance, which has influenced a few recent poems (Just Punishment, Let them eat).

Attending church takes me back to my childhood and familiar language patterns. My father claimed a deep personal religiosity. When we were children, it was a weekly parental pleasure for him to walk me and my brother to Sunday School. After the morning’s service proceedings we would play outside. He would siphon egg sandwiches, Salticrax with cheese and little cakes from the adult’s tea-table for us. (The Anglican Church to this day offers an excellent post-service tea spread.) He would spend a long time explaining things to us like the flat stones in the graveyard, the gruesome Stations of the Cross and the purple covering-cloths at Lent.

Today’s poem is drawn from a recent church experience during which I was struck by the clear, enchanting voice of the young woman who lead the singing. Her voice was neither trained nor very brilliant, but it moved me. In that moment, a flood of young maidens singing swept over me. I saw maidens with harps in old villages. I imagined maidens next to seas and riverbanks singing as they worked with others or alone to keep themselves company. I saw maidens next to firesides singing with the transparency of youthful hope, watched by audiences of older women and men, who in that moment were reminded of their youthful expectancy. This memory suspends itself like a copper bauble, picks up the fire-light and lifts them in the moment. It was all this that propelled me to write the poem.

The title references the “Libera me” at the end of Verdi’s Requiem. Instead of an awe-inspiring chorus with trained soprano, the single lay voice of this poem rings out unaffected and haunting. The siren call in this context is not entirely destructive. It is hypnotic, but it re-directs its listeners towards hope. The catch is that for many of them this hope is a bauble of the past, but it still frees them.

It only occurred to me years later that our absence from the house on a Sunday meant that my hard-working, music teacher mother could have a morning of quiet respite. At the end of 1987 and in early 1988, my Mum was also pregnant with my sister. Now when I look back at those memories, I add this layer. While we were running around the grounds of Christ the King on Lower Milner Road, stuffing our kiddie faces with egg sandwiches (on white bread! With crusts cut off!) and staring at faux-granite gravestones, my Mum was at home with a growing belly which contained my little sister.

My sister is now big – a maiden herself in her later twenties. She plays the harp and occasionally sings, though not in church. Her siren work with words is in a different field. She is a journalist.

Twitter: @BeadedQuill
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Books:
In the Ocean: a year of poetry 
Emily’s Poems for Modern Boys 
Shining in Brightness: Selected Poems, 1999 – 2012 

Star of Sirius, lapping Star of Sirius

Yesterday my poem “And a” was inspired by a CD of The Best of Boogie Woogie. Quite coincidentally, on June 3rd last year I posted a poem I’d written many years ago in response to a piece at a jazz concert.

Music has long been a source of great enrichment in my life. Playing in amateur and student orchestras during my younger youth, I spent wonderful times in the company of musicians. I still play my viola, though my endless attempts at Kreutzer, Mazas and Bach are at present only for myself and my neighbours. I listen to BBC Radio 3 obsessively and have discovered spotify playlists. For writing and typing, I often return to a rotation of predictable material: Miles Davis “Kind of Blue”, Depeche Mode, Crystal Method, Fever Ray, Gotan Project, Putmayo’s French or Italian Café. Bachata playlists are a current addition. It helps that many of these tracks are strong on rhythm and known so well to my ear, that they don’t distract me from the task at hand. Sometimes I try to sing along, but my lyrics tend to be surprisingly inventive. This is a poetic license of sorts, I suppose.

Thanks to the immense generosity of friends and happenstance, I have enjoyed some of London’s finest musical offerings: LSO and LPO concerts, ROH and ENO opera productions, Cadogan Hall and Wigmore Hall chamber recitals, opera at Holland Park, renowned string quartets (Kronos Quartet with Laurie Anderson, the Borodin Quartet playing Stravinksy) and free recitals of many kinds – a Polish jazz trio at the Yamaha showroom, Guildhall student recitals, a cellist streamed playing in a boat suspended above the Southbank Centre. At such performances, I’ll often pull out my notebook. I did so recently during a performance of Verdi’s Requiem at the Royal Albert Hall, simply to note the sensations that the music evoked. These included “a bold shadow on the pavement” and “Christmas pudding alight, then served with custard”.

In Night-Star of Sirius (of 2008), my poetic associations were more pointedly directed by the piece’s original title. I have since become more relaxed about allowing associate creative disciplines (art and other literature, as well as music) to trigger a seemingly unconnected creative response. After all, a poem may form yet from the moment towards the end of Verdi’s Requiem that is as “a napkin laid down after a satisfying meal”.

Wikimedia Commons image under an Attribution Share Alike 3.0 license. Author Jeff Dahl.

256px-Piano_Keys

Piano Keys‘ by Truls (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

One two three four
One two three. And a 
oneity two three four
one two three _ [fine]

Oneity oneity oneity oneity
oneity two three four-a
yeah ah peep for
Parp twoity three _

Oneity two me four
this song’s three four-a
want to join me? 
Catch twoity three _ [Da capo]


The beginning/end-of-the month weekend when people move from their rented accommodation proves a fruitful time for random pavement bounty. Yesterday’s gift was a plastic bag of abandoned CDs. It was Monteverdi’s Vespers of the Blessed Virgin that first caught my eye, but home with me also came Jagged Little Pill, Alanis Morrisette’s soundtrack to my mid-adolescence, and the wild card, twenty tracks of The Best of Boogie Woogie.

This afternoon I’ve been listening to the Boogie Woogie CD.

In today’s Guardian, television presenter and Forward prize for poetry judge Jeremy Paxman writes that contemporary poets write for each other, rendering poetry irrelevant to ordinary readers. This may indeed be true. I write most often for myself and an imagined ideal reader, rather than The Public at Large.

Together with the Boogie Woogie his comments inspired some self-indulgent pseudo-improv.

So here-above, and a-oneity two three _, is a song just for me. Readers, join in if you wish. Performance directions are included. (Da capo means ‘return to the beginning (lit. head)’ and fine indicates the end of the piece. I.e. to perform you must follow verses one to three, then repeat verse one.)

If this arrangement doesn’t please you, take some wisdom from ‘Pine Top’ Smith. In Pine Top’s Boogie Woogie he calls the crowd to,

“Mess around!”

And a
oneity twoity three four. Forget those poets.
Make your own poetry! Mess around.

Twitter: @BeadedQuill 
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All BeadedQuill’s books are available for preview and purchase. Click on the links below:
In the Ocean: a year of poetry
Emily’s Poems for Modern Boys
Shining in Brightness: Selected Poems, 1999 – 2012