Time to leave Summer…

As a child, I wrote a small poem about the countryside where I lived. I especially liked this time of year and spoke of the trees shedding their foliage…….

……’ the leaves come whirling round and round,  laying their cornflake carpet on the ground’.

Clever, wasn’t I?        Lakeland poets….eat your heart out!


St Francis of Assisi in Lochgilphead!

Jack the OrganistWe are very lucky, in that, in two hours on Sunday we were able to travel through some of the most wonderful Argyll countryside (just as the leaves are changing to that lovely russet, the true indicator of Autumn), to spend time in Lochgilphead. We then sang Choral Evensong with the members of, not only Christ Church, but members from other churches. What a great example of ecuminism!

Just now, the Church celebrates the life and work of Francis of Assisi, probably one of the best-known Saints, because of his association with nature. This was reflected in the presence of a number of (stuffed) animals, the organ music (Carnival of the Animals) and the hymns. By the way, Jack the organist was wonderful and, at 80+, plays like a young virtuoso!

It was a wonderful day all through, and as usual, the hospitality was more than we deseved.

Special note has to be made of one of our members who flew back from Dusseldorf on Sunday morning, managed to get from Prestwick to Paisley, sat the whole way to Lochgilphead by car, practised, sang lustily, and then sat the whole way back to Glasgow (actually she did snooze a little!)…without complaining!

Now, how do we beat that?

After Evensong Lochgilphead

      The Angelus Singers at Christ Church, Lochgilphead  7.10.2007

What a Pain!

A nuisance,  distress, suffering, agony, ache, ….all can be explained by use of the simple word ‘pain’. Is this because we have no universal definition of pain, so we use our own subjective feeling, in much the same way as we use the word ‘beauty’ or ‘pleasure’?

Scientifically, it is a signal sent from a seat of ‘disturbance’ in an area of the body, which activates in the central nervous system a response (via motor neurons) to take actions to prevent further damage happening (e.g. moving one’s hand away from a flame), and also learn, so that it is less likely to happen in the future.

We all suffer at one time or another, from toothache, to a bashed thumb, from a bad back to a thumping headache, or even migraine. And yet, unless there is obvious physical damage, such as bleeding or injury, it is very difficult to feel pain for others, or indicate the extent of our own pain.

Recently I have seen Son in obvious agony over a period of time, but could only empathise properly if I had experienced the same pain for the same length of time.

The word itself comes from the Latin poena, meaning retribution or punishment, but I cannot feel this to be a fully useful or valid meaning. There may be some fault laid at our door in that we can and do abuse our bodies by neglect, or over-exercise, by over-eating or starvation, but there are still situations where we cannot be held to have contributed.

This is still an area where we must ‘go it alone’ in our life. We can only receive compassion and give sympathy to a certain extent, and when the pain-killers have worn off we are left with an un-platable, but very real experience.

Fortunately, for most of us this is for a limited time, but one can only admire the fortitude of those who carry this beyond their forseeable future.

Oh, dear….and senior years loom ahead for us!

Compose yourself, boyo!

I’ve never understood the composing process! The idea of constructing a tune, and then developing it into an interesting, challenging, and (importantly) original piece of music is still daunting. I was brought up in a household where music was part of the furniture, and I have played, listened to, and sung music since a child. So my brain was always full of tunes and harmonies. This is probably the greatest legacy I received from my parents and the rest of the family.

So what has this to do with understanding composition? Well, I loved whistling or humming tunes when walking or working, and I was sometimes not sure if the tune was original or one from ‘way back’. The problem got worse as I learned more music!

I wrote my first piano piece at about 13, and am still proud of it! Writing for organ came later, and was followed by choral writing. The opportunity of hearing pieces performed only came much later and was quite interesting with performers being involved, and adding their skill to the overall performance.

One problem is that it is easy to continually want to change the details of a piece, after every performance, but it’s not really practical, one has to be realistic, and leave it alone. 

I enjoy writing a piece with no real idea of where it may end, but am much happier writing for a reason. This is especially-important where words have been specially-produced, and I am just now working on a choral setting of wonderful original words just recently written by a good friend, F.C.

But whence cometh the theme I do not know, how interesting it is I must leave to the performers, and how much of it is original I must leave to those who listen.