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juvenilia, pt.2

24 Jul

I remember my music teacher, a certain Mr. Langdon, used to force me to write notes out clearly and painstakingly, in other words, the opposite way I actually used to write music, which was all squiggles and scribbles, much in the way all composers do before they copy their works out neatly or -ahem – get somebody to copy them. I’m not a composer, though I still create the music to most of my videos, but more about that later. There are one or two teenage-early-mid- twenties pieces that I penned that survive to this day, rather to my surprise. I was, so to speak, helping clear out an attic when I came across them. What was this? Violin Sonata in B minor. Songs by Yours Truly.  The first thing I remembered when I looked at them, whether they were good or bad, was the painstaking labour that went into writing even the simplest piece or song.

The first reward of having written legible music was that a good professional Romanian violinist  played the top line of some of my pieces while I played the piano part at a soiree when I was living in London. The second interpretation I heard of my own music was when I asked a pianist who was studying at the Prague Conservatoire to play pieces I had written for piano. She practised them at the Conservatoire and then performed them at a piano playing party to which she was invited. (Since one of my Czech friends had a piano, my Czech friends were not averse to piano-playing parties.)  It was an education listening to your own music being interpreted by someone else, especially if they are in a different league to you in their musicianship. Finally, I can remember a fellow teacher in Poland who had an amazing voice and could read music. She and I went to a practice room in the Bydgoszcz Music Academy wangled for us by someone who used to study there. She sang three of my songs while I accompanied her on the piano. Again, an education.

Which brings me to my present about music and computers. I often wondered how I was going to put music to my videos without infringing copyright. For the lazy amateur (such as myself) music making programmes are a godsend. The principle of using sound loops and mixing them, matching them, tweaking them and putting different tracks above or below the other is an act of creation more like that of  a D.J. The whole process of creating music is really done with your ears. Here you don’t have to play or write music for the instruments and get someone to play them back (but you can, of course add your piano part, or whatever instrument you happen to play). And some of the results, though not highly original, are just what the doctor ordered when it comes to laying a soundtrack for videos.