Ciné Qua Non

‘Ciné Qua Non’, as everybody knows, is Latin for ‘publish video on Youtube or not’.

In my case, as a determined late adopter, (see here for instance) the answer has been ‘not’. Until now.

So, announcing my Youtube channel, which goes under the banner of The Common Land and is here.

A Crossword War

This journey into the world of video editing is to enable me to present my current musical project, A Crossword War, as a full length DVD as well as an audio CD/download.

A Crossword War is about Bletchley Park and the code-breakers during the Second World War. It focuses not so much on the fêted central characters like Turing and the cryptographers, but on the huge supporting cast of clerks, translators, liaison officers, machine operators and so on, the vast majority of whom were women. The twelve new songs (and one old one) reflect various aspects of life at ‘BP’.

I’m lucky to have had the collaboration of good friends like Marion Hill, Brad Bradstock, Sheena Masson, Andrew King and Dorien James, as well as my sister Terry Brown. There’s also a cameo appearance from my wife Ruth. I hope to have the music finished and available for download and on CD by April. As for the video version, watch this space.

Finally, a plug for Marion Hill’s book Bletchley Park People, which has provided me with a lot of source material. You can purchase a copy here.

PS: a song for you, dating back to 2002, from the CD The Common Land:

 

Go To Sleep, Oh My Brother

I recently watched The State, and was reminded of this poem, which I wrote shortly after the Westminster Bridge and Borough Market attacks.

 

Go To Sleep, Oh My Brother

In my helmet and Kevlar,
Watchful and waiting.
I see you brandish your kitchen knife bravely;
I see your victims still bleeding and gasping.
I dare you to hurt me.
I dare you surrender.
I dare you admit to this vile perversion-
Step into the light, oh my brother.

Your hands start to move, as if for a weapon,
Not up to the air as you have been bidden.
No response to my call,
And I see you fall-
My finger has spoken,
Resistance is broken.
Go to sleep with your young virgin brides,
Oh my brother
Let them see what a lion you are.

The cosmology of song writing

cosmos-500

Song writers have to be prepared to answer these two questions ad nauseam:

“How do you go about writing songs?” and “What comes first, the words or the music?”

I recently watched a documentary about the Eagles (yes, I know, but they were good really) in which Glenn Frey, (or was it Don Henley?) spoke about sharing a house with Jackson Browne, and hearing him get up in the morning and work away for hours and hours at the same bit of a song, over and over. Don, (or Glenn?) was made to realise that song-writing is principally about hard work and perseverance. So that’s one answer to the first question. Continue reading

A Harrier

A song dedicated to the beautiful North Norfolk coast and to bird watchers everywhere. Ruth and I knocked this up one holiday. The inspiration was the sight of a horse staring over the fence as we drove along; he was obviously counting the cars on the North Norfolk coast road. With apologies to Paul Simon.

Cley Continue reading

The Ghost of Lady Bennet

This song was written for the Living Archive Band’s radio ballad The Horse and the Tractor, but was not included when the ghost story fell victim to the editorial axe- a not inappropriate metaphor! The song intertwines two stories- the murder of Lady Grace Bennet at Calverton Manor, Buckinghamshire in 1694, and the childhood fears of Richard Fountaine who was brought to live in Calverton Manor after his family had bought the farm and the house. Not surprisingly, having heard rumours of hauntings, the boy was not happy, as he recounted much later in life:-

Richard Fountaine talking to Roger Kitchen in 2009 Continue reading

Farewell, old friend

No going back. I have sold my fiddle.

My 19th century German workshop Maggini copy, with two bands of purfling front and back, and an extra turn in the scroll (apparently not one of Maggini’s signatures).

In thirty years together we have seen and done a lot: from Castlethorpe Village Hall to Westminster Hall, from Leicester to Leipzig, countless ceilidhs, innumerable morris stands and nearly as many pubs as there are stars in the sky. I ought to be sad, but I truly am not. Continue reading

The Valley of the Shadow

Arras, April 9th 1917

Today marks the centenary of the opening of the British and Canadian offensive at Arras, on the Western Front.

Hawtin Mundy of New BrHawtin Mundyadwell, Buckinghamshire, fought and was captured in the battle. His powerful memories were recorded late in life, inspiring community drama and song that ties modern Milton Keynes and its inhabitants to its past.

Here is a part of Hawtin’s moving testimony:

Hawtin’s description of the battlefield at Arras was carefully turned into song by Paul Clark for the play Days of Pride, and has never failed to move audiences each of the many times it has been sung since. Continue reading

Slipjazz

Fresh old music from the depths of StudioBlend:

I named this tune years ago. If only  I’d known then what would happen when you search on ‘Slipjazz’ I might have had second thoughts. Ah well… Continue reading

Bells

My family and other campanologists…

Image result for Whitechapel Bell Foundry

We have an old bell sally at home, tied to the balusters upstairs and hanging down into the hall. When I was still repairing violins, customers (children usually, but not exclusively) would ask what it was. Continue reading