Although the landscape, both natural and urban, inspires a great deal of my work, it is the people in my life who provide a stimulus for my compositions. Special people ought to be celebrated, and composers have often created music for loved ones and patrons.
I have composed lots of music which has been inspired by important people in my life. This is a solo piano version of my piece, ‘Initial Bond’, and I created the main theme by using the initials of my Dad’s name – ‘AHF’ -to give shape to the melody. This motif is sprinkled throughout the piece, and it also tumbles naturally into the initials of my mom – ‘DC’, which is interesting in itself!
When I created the music, I felt as though I was acting as a medium through which the inspiration could flow. The style of the music, and complexity of it was unlike anything I had written before, or since. I was compelled to stay up late one night, and I could feel the music growing in my mind. I could not stop until the main body of the work was finished. Afterwards, I felt nauseous, and quite ill, as though my body was purging itself. This was quite alarming! I had an amazing relationship with my dad, Alf. He was a quiet, funny, clever and caring man, with whom I shared a love of music and a wicked sense of humour. I’m not entirely sure why I felt so sick afterwards, but maybe it was because it was a kind of labour of love – a journey, a marathon in itself.
This piece was originally composed for violin and piano, and appeared on my album, ‘Between Worlds’, with the concert pianist, John Thomson, accompanying me. In the studio, I played the solo violin part, which was written in the style of Brahms. The robust chords in the piano part supported the sweeping melody line. For some reason, I felt self-conscious when psyching myself up to play it. I didn’t want to let my Dad down.
While John was practising the piano in the studio to test the levels, it was a revelation that the piano part itself stood up as a piece in its own right! I asked John if he would record it as a separate track, and invited him to improvise over the original score.
Recently, my mom mentioned how much she enjoyed my ‘piano playing’ on this track and urged me to create more music in this style. I had to remind her that it was not me playing the piano! I decided then, that I would love to perform the music myself, and set about working on it, changing the music slightly as I went, in order to link up all the passages that the violin played on its own. I have really tiny hands, and I felt intimidated at first, but then I just gave myself up to the music and enjoyed the feeling of stretching smoothly into the notes.
This new version for solo piano has been a real journey for me to create, both physically, and emotionally. I’m so pleased that I rose to the challenge that I set for myself! This video is dedicated to one of my dear patrons, Jenny Weston.