'Pathos and Exaltation (Part 1)' and a brand new project

‘Pathos and Exaltation (Part 1)’ and a brand new project

It’s time to make a confession. If you’re on my mailing list you will know at least some of this already, but I want to tell you what’s going on with Pathos & Exaltation (Part 2) because I promised it before Christmas and you may have noticed that it still hasn’t materialised. Perhaps you heard me talk about this briefly on BBC Radio Devon a couple of weeks ago, but either way here’s the full and unedited version. The long and the short of it is that I have put recording for Part 2 on hold for a while. For nearly a year now I have been itching to get back to writing again, but wanting to get Pathos done and out and to have produced a completed album. So the plan was to stop live appearances, finish recording for Part 2 and then start writing new material. Sounds simple doesn’t it, but finally I realised before Christmas that the old and the new were conflicting and essentially stopping any progress in either direction. Much of the material on Pathos is around 4 years old now, and was written over quite a long period of time. That’s not to say that I don’t value that work any more, far from it – it still holds so much of me at that time and I am deeply proud of each and every song, so I still fully intend to complete the album as a whole when I have the right time and space to do so. However, since making the decision to halt Part 2 the new writing has taken a firm hold and I’m becoming increasingly excited about the direction it’s taking.

So what’s so great about this new project? Well, I find myself writing in a way that I have wanted to since I started out on this musical journey. I spent many long years blindly rejecting my past experience, the academic formality of my classical education, but in the last couple of years I’ve come to realise that it’s an inherent part of who I am as a musician and so I’ve been unpicking the parts of that which are relevant to what I’m doing now and how I want to develop my work. In generic terms this comes down to some basic compositional elements that have always fascinated me in music – namely structure and form – and this work is encompassing those elements in a way that I’ve never really tried before.

What does that actually mean in real terms? Of course I’m not going to say too much about it at this stage; the work is still in development but I’m clear enough about it to be able to give you a broad view of what’s to come. It’s almost the complete opposite of Pathos & Exaltation which is essentially a collection of individual songs. Yes, there is a common thread running through many of the lyrics in Pathos (some of which you still haven’t heard of course), but it was written as a series of individual songs and they just happened to fit together. The new project, by contrast, has one very definite theme – “interpretation” – and this pulls every part of the music and lyrics together into one whole piece. Structurally the work is likely to be presented in sections, according to sub-themes, almost like movements in a symphony or concerto, and as such I’m working on relating keys and other musical elements to make those sections flow seamlessly where possible. One of the other key differences (pardon the pun) from Pathos is that there will be instrumental pieces scattered throughout. You may have heard one of them behind my nattering on Radio Devon. This is a source of huge joy to me because previously I have never really connected with any kind of instrumental music (other than that of composers from past eras and orchestral music from film soundtracks) and that’s really bothered me. Finally – for now anyway – I want this work to be rich in instrumentation. Pathos was very minimal, for the most part, in order that I could play it live. I’ve said before that I never felt that a lot of that work was really finished, and so this time around I have made a conscious decision to let the music lead the way, and when it’s done and feels complete I will address the issue of how and if I will perform it live. That will involve dealing with multiple piano parts, string sections, and more.

That’s a pretty broad overview for now, and as it’s a work on the theme of “interpretation” I suspect that I won’t tell you too much more.  I want you to make up your own minds about the finer details when you hear this and I am working on adding some puzzles and clues that might tell you how I see it  (if you can solve them!) – but you may interpret it very differently and for this work that’s as it should be. Also, and as with all works in progress, it may well change and develop still further, but this is the bare bones of the piece as it is now and I wanted to share that with you for two reasons: the first is that I know some of you have been waiting for Part 2 for a while now, and so I feel that I owe you an explanation and an apology for it not appearing. Secondly, nobody ever talks about this kind of thing. I’m a firm believer in artists saying what they want to say and nothing more, nothing less, and I wholeheartedly respect whichever direction people choose to take in that regard. Equally, I respect the audience’s right to choose whether they want to know what’s being offered or not. I of course sit on both sides of that equation as both a musician and a fan of those artists who I hold in high regard. A friend told me recently that I study artists that I listen to,  almost as if they are “dead composers”, and I think that’s true – again, a throwback to my roots I suppose, but you know you can read about and hunt down all kinds of historical documents about the likes of Mozart and Shostakovich if you want to. But living artists? Not unless they give you the information, and on the one hand I personally find that difficult as I want to know as much as I can about the music I’m listening to (I don’t actually like interpretation, there are too many possibilities), but on the other hand I understand why they might not want to impart that kind of detail. So this is my way of offering you some kind of choice I suppose – it’s here if you want it, but if you prefer to stay in the dark and like the mystery then I respect that and promise to use the word “spoiler” on anything further that may jeopardise your enjoyment of what I do.

More news as it happens…