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Archive for October, 2015


Last week Stephen Sutton, CEO of Divine Art Recordings Group, emailed me to enquire about my next CD project “Is it to be recordings of Sonatas 1 – 6?” he prompted, encouraged I suppose, by the success of 7, 8 and 9. “Well, no Stephen, that’s going to be rather difficult. You see………………….”

In turn, this exchange, caused me to consider you, my readers. Many of you may well have possibly searched for these earlier sonatas. You will not be able to find them. They no longer exist.

Allow me some explanation.

Since I was a stripling of a lad, afflicted by the usual measles, mumps, whooping cough and grazed knees, I have written music. It seemed then, as it does even now, that this occupation was a hugely exciting thing to do. Putting notes (now data) onto an inviting blank sheet of manuscript was a magical and uplifting experience. Some refer to it as creativity. So, over the years, I wrote music. I absorbed much from analyzing pieces by Mozart whose music I was playing at the time and listening to his symphonies from which I learnt how to use sonata form. Sometimes I wrote for friends’ weddings, dramas, pantomimes, concerts, events.

But I never seemed to retain what I wrote. I either gave it away, misplaced it or destroyed it myself. I saw no reason to keep it in some unopened drawer. I placed no special value upon it. It was just what I did. The next piece was always the reason for me to continue. It’s all about moving forward, doing new things, development, experimentation, new ways of thinking.

I do have possession of an oratorio, some arrangements for big band and some jazz pieces. That’s about all.

So, what of 1 – 6?  1 and 2 have been destroyed long ago. I saw no reason to retain them. If anything they looked to the past and took up storage space. And the others, 3 – 6? They have also disappeared.

After having listened to me play them for her and knowing what a limited life-expectancy they were due, a friend took them away to safety. She was not prepared to see them destroyed. She was very insistent about this and I did not mind what happened to them. There was more to write. It was already in my head.

After the release last September of 7, 8 and 9 I suddenly realized that (notable) others were interested in the compositional techniques that I have been evolving over the years. If you care to look at my previous posts or the Google search pages you will see what I mean. I began to look at what I was producing through their eyes, not mine. For the first time my music was not only attracting attention, but receiving generous plaudits and recognition. I was, in fact, learning about my own music through the commentary of others who were indicating quite unambiguously that my work had some significance, some value.

So, because of this fuss, I visited my friend with the purpose of reclaiming the sonatas she had rescued from me with the intention of having them recorded and released. However it appears that, they too, have disappeared. My friend has no idea what has happened to them. They cannot be found. Some were quite different to 7, 8 and 9. Some I recollect were written in a non non-prescriptive style!

The world is a few piano sonatas the less. The world also has bigger concerns with which to occupy itself.  What do I do? Well, I go for long walks and I don’t sleep very well so I will utilize this time to think sonata stuff. Ideas will emerge and crystallize. They always do. And then I will get to sharpening my pencil.

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Seven months have now elapsed since a moment of carelessness, a distraction, resulted in the loss of the tip of my little (fourth) finger on my right hand. For a pianist that is a most useful finger to possess. In piano music of any genre it is given a starring role, a major billing. It is usually entrusted with huge responsibilities. Imagine, for example, the “48 “and most music of the Romantic Period when the team is reduced to 9 players.

So, you are asking, how am I managing? The impossible-to-fully-accept truth is that I will never be able to play at the same standard that I was capable of before the incident. My Chopin Etude-playing days are over with the possible exception of No. 12 in C minor and I have always been able to perform the music that I write. Until now.

It’s not photon-sensitive any more but I am not able to press upon the piano keys without having to cover the tip of the finger with a thick gel toe-protector. The bone, the distal phalanx, which suffered multiple fractures, is now not protected by much flesh. It is quite near to the surface of the finger and, because of this, is sensitive to any impact and I guess that this situation will not change. I am stuck with it. It’s permanent. It’s often uncomfortably cold, even on warm days. I go around with hand stuffed into pocket, fist closed into a tight ball. Soaking in hot water helps. Will this condition worsen during the oncoming Winter?

When necessary I can try out what I write on the keyboard, that’s if the damn thing doesn’t fly off the finger and end up lying between B flat and C sharp as it so often does. I am still trying to come to terms with all this. I’m still in a period of adjustment both physiologically and psychologically. I remind myself that it could have been worse when I get angry and frustrated and that offers some (small) degree of consolation.

Lesson:  Do not take doors for granted. They can, under certain circumstance, bite. Be nice to them. Respect them. Acquire some kind of mutual understanding with them. Live in peace with your doors. Especially if you are a pianist.

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