Words for Music Perhaps

This Sunday (the 25th of October) sees the premiere of Turning the Elements, a musical project featuring settings of poems by myself and Jane McKie by composers Rebecca Rowe and Stuart Murray Mitchell, performed by clarinetist Joanna Nicholson and vocalist Frances Cooper. This first performance will be taking place from 3-4pm, Migvie Church, Aberdeenshire as part of the Sound Festival. For Scottish Book Week there’ll be a second performance from 7:30-8:30pm on Friday the 27th of November at St. John the Evangelist Church, Jedburgh, Scottish Borders.

Coming up with words for music was a new challenge for me. Having played the trumpet in various school bands and orchestras, I’m not entirely musically illiterate. I’m also an entirely self-taught guitarist, whose early, botched attempts to write songs may not have lead to stardom, but probably did help push me in the direction of poetry. However, when you’re used to working towards a text which, you hope, will be able to stand up on its own, it can be quite tricky to alter your practice in order to accommodate another person’s music. When writing the pieces set by Rebecca and Stuart, I did my best to leave places in the text for them to slip into – stops where Joanna’s clarinet might veer away or Frances’ singing fly off into pure sound. However successful I ultimately was in this respect, I’m quite excited to hear what composers and musicians have done with my poems.


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