Another accidental discovery this week, Welcome to Spring, a work I recorded with colleagues from the Max Jaffa Orchestra in the early 1980s, now rescued from a deteriorating cassette tape, solo part re-recorded and posted to SoundCloud (http://soundcloud.com/music-54-4/). The process of digitising the recording had some difficulties as the tape at the start of the recording had stretched a little, with the effect of very slightly altering the pitch and timing. The glockenspiel was bright and the strings were flat but hopefully the small alterations do not distract from the listening experience.
It is exciting to hear a composition again after so many years, especially if the music still sounds appealing. I can honestly say there are only a couple of parts that I would change if I wanted to revise it, both near the end, but the work is typical of my chamber music at this time. Woodred, the first composition I uploaded to SoundCloud, is from the same period but this was another part of my output, with percussion and jazz influences. I hope to be able to rescue some of the big band or at least nonet compositions I completed for Legends in the near future to see if they have stood the test of time.
Remembering the trouble and costs that I had getting the tracks recorded, made me realise how the accessibility of recording studios and the communication of the music to the World has changed during this short period of time. Do not worry, at this point I am not going to indulge myself in nostalgia, just recognise and compare the findings from my recent research to show how the music business has changed. These changes have resulted in many opportunities but it is now a different business to the one I first joined in the late 1970s.
During one lifetime (average 82 to 89 years from the Office of National Statistics) there have been some major changes that have had significant effects on the arts and particularly music. A world war, the instigation and development of the BBC, technology and communication developments, the World Wide Web and all the cultural changes, fashion, lifestyle and leisure activities that have taken place during and as part of these events.
For many years there were a few individuals and companies that influenced what music was recorded, published, broadcast or performed. Composers were in competition with each other and had to capitalise during their ascendant periods (measured in popularity and commercial success) but also be aware of the changes in the demands of their audience. This competitive element has always been, and still is, part of the business in this country.
Attitudes to music and art have developed in a number of ways during this lifetime. The changes to people and their philosophies that the catastrophe of the world war produced, followed by the further transformations that the World Wide Web offers, has countenanced the expression of many creative ideas and principles. Some of these come from a commercial need and others from an academic source.
A composer working in this century has many influences, beliefs, concepts, values and opinions on which to base the music as well as thousands of accessible sound sources to work with. Technological developments have given the composer numerous choices and the discoveries to create a signature sound are plentiful. My thought for the day is; as a composer, try not to miss the accidents in sound that may inspire your next work.
Woodred and Welcome to Spring are both very different to how they were originally conceived. None of the process was planned, but by listening and recognising some accidents along the way, they ended up as compositions I can still accept today. My palette of sounds was very limited compared to what is available now, but even with the restrictions, I hope you enjoy the music.