The Freedom to Compose and Record

May 5, 2016
composer TV and Film Sue Aston Cornwall

Since setting up my home studio, I have been able to create freely and without restraint.

I have worked with some fantastic producers in the past, and it has been a pleasure to have their input, but being able to record my work at home has meant that I can get my ideas down quickly, and work on my music whenever inspiration comes to me. Sometimes in the middle of the night!

As a classically trained musician, I studied the piano alongside my main instrument, the violin, as it was required in order for me to get a place at music college. Playing the piano as a solo instrument led to me writing a lot of my music as a result of improvising. What I love about the piano, is being able to play in a natural, fluid way, and in a commercial studio setting, I often felt that playing along to a click track was at odds to this, particularly when the music I was writing was atmospheric and soloistic in nature. Having my own piano at home – which I have played on since the age of twelve – feels comfortable when composing and recording. Many studio keyboards do not have the range of notes that a piano has, and having the use of two pedals to create an impressionist soundscape is also an important factor for me.

Nature and the landscape is an enormous source of inspiration for me, and musical ideas come quickly to me when I am able to tune into them. My studio at home is surrounded by a farmer’s field, and has views overlooking the hills. It is a wonderful base to work from – I just have to make sure the farmer isn’t driving his tractor when I’m trying to record, but that is a small price to pay!

Related Pages : Music Commisions

Diary of A Coastal Composer

New Beginnings

April 24, 2016

April is a joyful month – a cocktail of elemental delights. It exudes the promise of the summer sun yet to come, as the clocks leap forward and draw out the evenings. The evenings finally lose their gloom, and the days feel longer. Our spirits begin to lift.

We are brought to our senses and jolted out of our reverie by the fresh, sudden outpouring of an April shower. It is exhilarating nonetheless, even though it wakes us momentarily from our dreams of a summer holiday. It is a relief that the seasons still seem to be in order, rather than the monotony of one damp characterless period of time.

The sun appears over the hills, a bright and cheerful face, which is mirrored in the friendly faces of the primroses which adorn the hedgerows. A deeper yellow is found in the impressive celandines which boldly appear in glorious, buttery carpets.

Pink and red waxy camellia are still showing their amazing array of gorgeousness – they have been around since Christmas, and are still going strong. They are in it for the long haul.

A lone bumble bee is a surprise garden visitor as it drones hopefully around the plants, most of which are still dormant and waiting for their special time to emerge.

It is a time of hope – the shackles of winter are being cast aside, although the chill of the night air and the grey clouds which bring forth an icy shower are still a reminder.

Here in Cornwall, the sudden appearance of a traffic jam reminds us that the holiday season has begun, as people start to visit our fantastic location.

I sit in a queue of cars, wind down my window, and feel the hesitant warmth of the spring sunshine as it beams down on my face. A couple of jackdaws hop about with a large crust of bread in their beaks. This is a time of hope and new beginnings.

Diary of A Coastal Composer

The Emergence of Spring

March 12, 2016

After a day of carefully choosing who was going to master my new EP, ‘Winter Keys’, I prepared to go for a very necessary walk.

I had spent too much time indoors just lately, carefully listening to my new recordings and making notes about what needed doing. The fresh, Cornish air beckoned, and I hastened to wrap myself up in layers of warmth. I was just about to leave the house, when a message arrived informing me that my tracks were now mastered and ready to be listened to. I was torn. I needed to listen to the tracks, but I was in a rush to go out!

I found it difficult to apply myself to patiently concentrate and check the music back – I always found this excruciating as I imagined all sorts of things occurring in the music which no one else could hear. After a brief listen, I finally set off on my walk in an attempt to unmuddle my mind.

A quick walk around the block on this crisp afternoon was the plan. The sun shone brightly, giving the impression of warmth, but it was no warmer than looking at the light which came on as you opened the door to the fridge! The season was on the cusp between winter and spring. Fresh, bright green leaves were sprouting up optimistically amidst the dead, dry twigs which littered the verges.

Here and there, clumps of buttery primroses showed their pretty, dainty faces. Explosions of golden gorse buds burst forth out of the thorny tangles. The fields all around were lit up by glorious daffodils in their hazy hues. Occasionally, as I walked along, delighting in the emergence of spring, the remnants of winter remained as the brambly earth guts wrapped their spilling tendrils around my feet, urging me to trip over.

Out of the corner of my eye, I could make out the pom pom shape of wrens as they bumbled and flit about in the dense branches. They were the embodiment of nature’s cartoonish cuteness. I paused to take some video clips for my vlog, and noticed as I checked it back, that there appeared to be strange glowing orbs whirring about on the footage, which I hadn’t noticed when I was filming. Perhaps it was just the reflection of the strong glare of the setting sun – or maybe an innocuous insect – quite drab in reality, which had somehow managed to reflect the sun’s rays.

Hope was in the air, and the smell of a new season filled my nostrils. The sweet scent of spring was breaking through the earthy musk of winter.

Diary of A Coastal Composer, Music

Winter Keys – Promo Music Video

March 8, 2016

First promo video for my ‘Winter Keys’ EP. This is my first release since ‘Between Worlds’. It features haunting music for piano, strings and guitars.
“The guitars lend an Opethian edge to November Skies” review

The EP is available to my Patrons now and will be available via ITunes this month. Enormous thanks to all my wonderful patrons for helping me to release my new EP. It has been so exciting to have their support, and know that I have a fabulous team cheering me on!

The video was filmed in Cornwall.

Sue Aston X

Become a Patron of my music and art

Diary of A Coastal Composer

A Flash of Fire

February 7, 2016
Robin takes flight in Cornwall

A cold snap of weather, and the landscape plunged into a chill of hibernation. At least it feels like Winter has arrived at last. The thrill of going outside and being engulfed by freezing air, instead of a mild drip of warm rain, is invigorating. An opportunity to wrap up in wooly socks and oversized jumpers – the comforting feeling that you are wearing your bedding as you go about your business.

It is an icy start to the day – a seemingly endless darkness when getting out of bed. I open the patio doors next to the piano and let our two cats out into the moonlit morning. The sky is clear, and the night time creatures are still flitting about, just out of sight, but I can hear the rustling in the hedgerows. I stare into the pitch darkness, and feel as though my cats will never return – but they soon do, bright eyed and frisky with excitement.

Dawn breaks at last, the rouge red light bleeds into the weak powdery blue sky as the sun summons up strength to make its presence felt. It is still early enough on in the year to be buoyed up with resolve to maintain good habits, and I open my violin case in order to practise first thing, before the rush of the day takes over. At this time of year I usually decide to play Bach in order to strengthen my violin technique. To me, this has all the fun of a high fibre diet – which I am also sticking to. Instead of bach, I opt for the Philip Glass violin concerto. The mechanical repetition of the endless cycle of notes whirling under my fingers lulls me into the somnambulism that I am trying to fight. My eyes gaze through the window and the mass of greyish brown twigs of a bush next to our front garden forms the resting place for my hypnotic stare. The music continues to churn out ad nauseum, then suddenly my attention is hijacked by an unexpected flash of fire. A robin is tucked away inside the heart of the twiggy tangle outside. The cadmium red of his breast is like a beacon of hope in the still of winter.The warmth of the colour radiates a glow within the darkness of the branches, and echoes the rosy tinge of the sky above.

There is always beauty to be found in the darkest of mornings.