Mbongwana Star

“Mbongwana Star (‘Mbongwana’ meaning ‘change’) are a newly formed band from Kinshasa, Congo. Tired of the pre-conceptions around African music, they’re creating their own identity, fusing traditional Congolese rhythms with post punk and electronics. Full of energy and utterly original, here’s a brand new track from their forthcoming album.”

Liking the trippy psychedelic grooves. On the wish list.

It’s great to learn that Congolese musicians are fighting against ‘pre-conceptions’ about African music.

And what, with all the heinous activity happening out it’s great to hear such well crafted music. Enjoy!

Tunes

Time to listen!! Enjoying a composition hiatus as I’ve been composing nonstop since the summer. Time for a well-deserved break.

Vibin’ off these tunes at the moment…

Cate Le Bon – Sisters

Art Farmer – Soul Sides:

The 8th Day – Cheeba:

Samuel Coleridge-Taylor – Moorish Dance:

Eric Dolphy – Eclipse:

Aerial M – Dazed and Awake:

Sufjan Stevens – The BQE:

String Arrangements

I have been asked to compose string arrangements for Lizzie Emeh’s new LP. I thought I’d find this quite easy as my compositions tend to be quite melodic, oh how naive of me!
So as the stress levels have increased (writer’s block) – I decided to take a day off working on the tracks, start a 6000 word research essay due in 3 weeks (!!), and listened to great string arrangers. Whilst figuring out how to create arrangements for Lizzie’s tracks, I have enjoyed working on the texture/warmth/subtleties. What I have found challenging is being bold at the right moment. Thanks to Mark at Heart and Soul for being patient with me and giving me this opportunity. Time to step up now!

Listen and learn from great string arrangers:

Patrice Rushen:

Rod Temperton:

Will Malone:

Will Gregory:

Lalo Schifrin:

Glen Page:

David Van DePitte:

David Whitaker:


A nice interview with Mr. Whitaker.

Chef Concertino

At the start of the year, I was fortunate to have an orchestral piece called “Chef Concertino” performed at Birmingham Conservatoire. The composition department has an annual competition where composition students can submit works to be performed; the best 6 are chosen.

My performance incorporated two passions: food and music. It featured my chef uncle and Graeme Rose from Stan’s Cafe. It was a good first attempt and a lot of work went into it. I would make more tweaks if I had time, such as more interaction between orchestra and chef, but there’s only so many hours in the day.

Have a listen:

 

Video:

 


 

X

vanley and ian
(Photographer Vanley Burke with curator Ian Sergeant)

‘X’ was revolution no. 20, under the Free School events curated by Ian Sergeant. It was inspired by an intriguing, enthralling and what John L. Williams calls a tragicomic story of black political activist Michael X.

Initially Ian Sergeant wanted a performance inspired by black British politics in the Midlands. Shamefully, knowing very little about black British politics I penned some ideas for an audio-visual performance, calling in artist and musician Matt Watkins to assist. Ian had just started reading the John L. Williams book and quite quickly his ideas changed…. Michael X became the focal point. I have to admit, I was resistant, having reservations because I was invested in the first idea, but once I read the biography it all made sense. I am glad Ian made that change! Continue reading “X”

Respek Vanley: Music Workshops Sessions 3 & 4

We are getting there… thank goodness for that, as I’m having the trippiest dreams as the pressure is on.

Young people have written two original sets of lyrics for songs using the riddims of Steel Pulse and Burning Spear, I have an  a capella idea for the final ditty, we have one session left to devise/rehearse, using “Hail Him”. We shall see what the young people think of my idea.

Continue reading “Respek Vanley: Music Workshops Sessions 3 & 4”

May sketch a day: disney

Rose Oliver, you threw down the gauntlet, I pick it up, with a musical twist.

Rules: I can only spend 30 mins tops on it.

This is my contribution for day 1.

Hope I don’t get shot by the Disneydoom team. Name that disney film (which I’ve lifted the audio from)?

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Push and Pull


My Uchenna dance score commission deadline fast approaches. It’s been good fun working on it, is my compositional skill developing? I hope so. I am starting to see patterns in my musical style which is good, this awareness will mean I can take more compositional risks, (as I’m starting to grow bored of what I am producing).

Continue reading “Push and Pull”

a little reverb on the snare

Today’s sketch, i love playing with midi!

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A little dubsteppy, bass line needs work.

Sketchisimo

I’ve been commissioned by Vocab Music to write some music for dance – inspired by youth culture. The brief is to create music that develops from a seed to include variation and development, mainly instrumental, loop based, hip hop deluxe. This morning I messed around with midi, thought I’d share some sketches. I’ve also been bouncing ideas off other artists’ work, a challenge but good fun.

Funny what you can do under pressure. This sketch took 30 mins, very simple, but I like the bounciness.

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This needs a lot of refinement, but anyho…. What do you think? Left hand is messy, need to practice! Lol! Quantize, Quantize, arpeggio exercises! The challenge is making it sound hip hop, slightly inspired by Dilla’s Suite for Ma Dukes.

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Second one – audio sent through another artist, added some strings and a b-line.

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Vienna Symphonic Library! Best orchestral sounds apparently.