I love playing music. I am passionate about it. I also believe that live music is literally a form of magic, and that what does and doesn’t happen around music directly affects the soul of a society and the individuals in it.
I would love to play more music. And when I say "play", I mean perform. I don’t mind whether the audience are children, old people, healthy people, people who are about to die, people I find beautiful or people I find ugly.
For me, sharing music through performance is one of the most joyful and nourishing …
Continue reading ‘Sgt Pepper’ »
Those who know me may be a little surprised to see me posting music made on a machine, given my years as a Luddite. Maybe it’s a testimony to the wonderful flexibility of the human mind that something I once thought terrible now seems quite innocuous. Or is it…?
It’s good to remember that optimisation is not always the optimal solution.
Which is perhaps to say more accurately: there are often many aspects of a given activity which we could choose to optimise, and it is good to apply discernment in deciding which are most important, bearing in mind that our initial choice may be coloured by unexamined assumptions.
What do the words “Folk Music” mean to you? For me, there are some rather negative assosciations: very serious looking people with fingers in their ears singing archaic songs about how “The Queen she doth need sea men,” for example, or very bland melodies played slowly and without much passion by musicians of a very mediocre standard. For me, the trouble with this kind of music is that it doesn’t excite, inspire or resonate with me. “Folk Music” is presumably meant to be “the music of the people,” and herein lie some very interesting and important issues. For now I’ll …
Continue reading ‘What Is Folk Music Anyway?’ »
Have you ever had the experience of talking about some difficulties you’ve been having with a friend, only to come away feeling worse than you did before discussing it? Most people want to help others if and when they can, but often lack the skills and understanding to do so effectively. This is not to imply any blame – after all we are not often taught about these things in school. One of the best teachings I’ve encountered on this issue is “Nonviolent Communication” as taught by Marshall Rosenberg. This teaching explains the power of Empathy, which has a specific …
Continue reading ‘How to help people who are hurting’ »
There was once a barber. Some say that he lived in Seville. Wherever he lived, all of the men in this town either shaved themselves or were shaved by the barber. And the barber only shaved the men who did not shave themselves.
So who shaved the barber?
A “tweaked” version of Drowsy Maggie to make it fit the pipes, and a new tune I wrote recently. Minor key tunes over a drone on the 7th: an acquired taste…
Some silly tunes I wrote years ago. F Lydian over a G drone – a strange but colourful soundworld!
On the subject of paradoxes, here’s another: sometimes by limiting our options our creativity can be enhanced. As an example, I’ve been exploring how Irish tunes can be played on the Scottish Bagpipes, which have a smaller range than most Irish instruments. In order to make this work, some tweaking is needed, including tansposing octaves and uisng the pipes’ “flattened” leading note. This could be seen as a limitation, or as a creative challenge, since there is a difference between just applying an algorithm, and using sensitvity to maintain the flow and flavour of a tune. The idea of limiting …
Continue reading ‘Creative Constraints’ »
This sentence is false
Oh dear. If you try to make sense of the above, you can’t help but eventually admit defeat. Either it’s true, in which case it’s false, or it’s false, in which case it’s true! This is an example of a self-referential paradox. Another example is my recent involvement with the Internet. I have been obsessive-compulsively researching and learning how to do things on it, particularly in relation to publishing content. Unfortunately my brain is fried, and I have little mental energy left to write anything useful or interesting. See the paradox? Hopefully it’s just a passing …
Continue reading ‘Paradox Ahead’ »