Summertime sum up


What beautiful weather! A year ago, I met a Swedish lady in London (on the bus I think), who said the main reason she decided to stay in the UK was down to the summer of ’76. She told me she had been longing ever since for another glorious summer like that to return. Maybe her wait is over….

Anyway, I feel it is time to update you with the world of Bobalon.

MMus year 1 is complete and it has been a blast. Really challenging and have learnt a lot; the importance of a conceptually sound idea for your work, (if you choose to have one), the importance of presentation when scoring, to compose for your musicians compassionately, for they are not machines. Props to my tutors Joe Cutler and Howard Skempton who have been really encouraging and expanded my understanding of the world of composition.

You can hear some of the sounds I have created here:

The above was performed by Krock who are an awesome, really friendly troupe of 4 guitarists who perform music via music technology, including Ableton Live.
It was great that they liked my piece, and have asked me to extend it! It was based on Maggie T, 11 variations for 11 years, 11 bars.I tried to be objective, as I am not her greatest fan. It served more as a time line of the 11 key events that happened during her political reign.

Had some music workshopped by BCMG – all in all a challenging experience, presentation of score was flagged and I was really nervous, but I lived to tell the tale, got some good feedback from a few players too. The piece infused my love of vinyl and incorporated Afrofuturist ideas. Here is a more successful part of the piece: 

‘Ten Worlds’ was my submission for the Composer 2000 challenge set by the Schubert Ensemble. The remit was to compose accessible music for young musicians, I endeavoured to make it really simple, unfortunately the concept wasn’t strong enough and the structure needs work.

To reflect on my first year of post-grad studies, the biggest challenge has been moving from a composer of functional music to writing just for me, and how my ego has received a battering. Writing for the self is difficult and I now understand why many composers try to distance their personal lives from the compositional process.

Started the academic year working with the first cohort of year 10s at Birmingham Orminston Academy, working with Mr. “Drums” Ray Prince which was loads of fun. I then ended the year mentoring some of the same year 10s which was challenging and loads of fun.

Returned to Paganel Primary and spent just over a day helping year 6s write a song about their schools archives and community.

We didn’t use this in the end, but amazing to have the year 6 teacher help lead melody writing group work. It’s always amazing when the teacher is fully onboard with music projects (participating rather than at the back of the room doing marking).

Returned to St. James School to write songs about respect which was also fun and very challenging, leading such a large group and boisterous year 5s. Got there in the end.

Commissions and other projects

I worked with Heart n Soul’s Lizzie Emeh (first disabled musician to release an album) to write a new song called “Waiting”. The chords were written ages ago, but when I started working with Lizzie I new her voice would fit perfectly. Apparently Lizzie’s nickname is ‘mama feel good’, which is funny considering my Djing past. You can hear some rehearsal footage here: 

I am currently collaborating with Matt Watkins on an audio visual piece which explores a tragicomic figure who at one stage became the face of black british politics.

I am working with Brian Lobel on a project called “Fun with Cancer Patients” – recording sounds in hospitals and turning them into something light hearted.

I am collaborating with poet Martin Johns to write a song for the Leeds Lieder festival, which is part inspired by an Octavia Butler novel called Kindred.

And finally I am collaborating with choreographer Keisha Grant to compose original music for a dance project.

All to be completed this summer. Phew!


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