6. A Week Out

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This piece is in two sections and describes how perceptions of time can change as a longed-for week’s holiday runs its course. With the first glass of wine, the days ahead reach away into the distance. Midweek the tide turns, the last days come in with a rush which makes them harder to savour.

A repeated bell sound indicates time marching on relentlessly, but this fades as languid synthesiser lines merge and weave. Half way through, more of a sense of urgency as the guitars enter, indicating it is time to get a move on. The waves ebb and flow washing away the traces of distant holiday memories…..

Looking more closely at the musical features:

The piece begins with a bell repeatedly playing a pair of quavers at the beginning of each bar on the key note of A. This might represent a steadily ticking clock, marking time passing, which is an important feature of this piece.

Underneath this, a languid synthesiser part traces out the notes of an A minor 7th chord. Occasionally this rises a step to a B minor chord, quickly subsiding to an A minor. Can you hear when this happens? The synth patch is called ‘seashore’ which, in addition to the pitched notes, also incorporates a sound like waves on the seashore – slowly ebbing and flowing. Again, marking a more slowly moving time frame whilst conveniently helping to set the holiday scene.

Then comes the action. A busy part which gradually unwinds and relaxes into longer notes. It uses only three notes over a narrow register: the interest comes from the changing rhythm patterns. The use of the note F# which gives the line an interesting modal feel: slightly at odds with the A minor chord but more at home with the B minor:

1
A second melodic line enters a few bars later which also helps to slow things down to give a more relaxed settled mood:
2

So the music is telling a story. Or rather, using a story to help provide a structure and some stimulus for musical content.

The repeated bell enters to indicate that time is moving on. An insistent rhythm guitar part establishes a groove and a guitar melody gets under way, bringing hustle and bustle to the scene. Lots of things to do and see on this holiday before we have to think about packing our bags…. Like the glockenspiel parts earlier, the phrases are built on just a few notes.

Soon enough, the holiday is over – the visitors have left and the eternal waves wash away all traces of activity.

In truth, much of this subjective analysis of the ‘story’ is retrospective. Some may find it useful – others a distraction. However, there is no doubt that, for me, thinking of music as a way of telling a story can sometimes be a useful in shaping and organising the thinking that goes into my making music.

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Posted in Days of Sun, Uncategorized

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