I just wanted to let you know that I added a recording of "Song of the Western Islet" on my soundcloud account . I wrote and performed this piece live last year.
This 10 minute track has four sections.
I wanted to write something on the theme of water and nature taking over.
I found an ancient Chinese poem called "Song of the Western Islet" (Six Dynasties) about a young woman who was looking for her lover at sea and could not find him, set in a dream. I wrote a song on acoustic guitar basing the lyrics on a translation of the poem. Then I started to collect water sounds like the sea, and waterfalls. I asked around at the School of Oriental and African studies for any musicians who wanted to be part of the project. Chiara Terzuolo responded, she played Japanese koto zither, so I did a bit of research and tried to find out how the koto was played in order to write sheet music for it, putting string numbers under each note. I started writing short introductory pieces in different Japanese scales, but settled on the Hirajoshi scale as it would blend better with the song. Then on the first day of rehearsals with Chiara ,disaster struck, the Japanese earthquake and tsunami, Chiara had many friends in Japan where she had lived and I wondered whether to carry on with the theme of water and grief in case it upset her or others, but she was OK about it, so I carried on. She subsequently raised money for disaster relief by playing koto for days on end at the university and other locations. Before the disaster, I already had it in mind to include the healing and destructive qualities of water, with floods contrasted with gentle lapping waves and waterfalls. I added some tsunami sirens to my collection of water sounds for the backing track.
The piece was performed live in June 2011 at SOAS (School of Oriental and African Studies). Live performance of koto, singing, electronic keyboards, effects pedals and acoustic guitar were played live, mostly by me, which was challenging!!! along to a backing track with drones, water and siren sounds and other sound effects. The performance was all the more poignant because a very good friend of mine, who wanted to come to the concert, died just a few days beforehand and I was truly devastated. But music is like that, full of emotions and strange coincidences.
The recording on soundcloud is similar to the live version, except Chiara and myself jammed a bit more when playing it live.
I hope to post some more long tracks where I experiment a bit.
Although folk songs with just vocal and guitar are easy and simple to convey, I get bored easily, and I like venturing into other kinds of music when I can.
I'm off to WOMAD tomorrow, to set up the SOAS marquee and stall. I'll be running some workshops in tembang Sunda singing. I'm hoping to bump into Robert Plant and teach him some kacapi playing and tembang Sunda ( am a huge Led Zeppelin fan).
But this probably won't happen so if you are going to WOMAD come and say hello.
Love and Peace