Despite the previous moan about just getting inspired and having to stop (which is basically how my work pattern generally seems to go) I was really excited about last saturday when Natalie Raybould, who is going to sing Amy in the opera, came to visit and sing through what I’d written so far.
To be honest at this point, I was actually not looking forward to the workshops that much, which are due to take place this week, as I was very happy in my seclusion writing writing and writing thank-you-very-much, and anything which doesn’t involve just sitting and writing becomes something of a bloody inconvenience. But hearing Amy come to life properly (as opposed to through my own, distinctly second-rate singing voice) was very excited, and now I am really looking forward to them!
Basically Natalie had completely got what I was wanting, which is mostly down to the fact that she is totally fantastic, but hopefully also in part to the fact that I’d been successful in imbuing the music with as much character as I could. I always find it difficult knowing how much to put in the score when writing for voices - I tend to put in a fewer instructions as a) the words suggest a lot of the emotion, and b) I’m not sure one can use so much of one’s brain to think about dynamics when singing (and in this case acting too) as when playing. Not sure about this. Perhaps it’s just because, in vocal music, due to the necessity of getting the words across as clearly as possible (which is very important to me for the vast majority of time) there are actually less dynamic variations in the melodic lines.
Natalie understood the influences of the music, whilst still kindly saying that it had retained my own voice. I said to her that I was really pleased about this, as over the last few months I’d spent a lot of time trying to really internalise, and then forget, music as diverse as Jack Hylton’s 30’s dance music and Lily Allen. I think that’s really quite important - to really get under the skin of a kind of music (if that’s what inspires your music), really get the feel of it and understand how it works, and then try and forget as much as possible and compose your own music, which can’t but help being influenced by the music you’ve got to know so well in some way or other. Seems to work for me anyway.
So, that’s where I’ve got to so far. I’m almost at Manchester and am going to sign off for a premiere at the Bridgewater Hall, with the fabulous Lawson Piano trio and pupils from Chethams School of Music, who are going to premiere an Olympic-inspired piece for double piano trio. Tomorrow there are two days of workshops at Opera North on the music that I’ve written so far. Typing that sentence just made me feel rather nervous so I’m going to stop now, and I’ll let you know how the workshops went in a few day’s time!