17 October 2008

I’ve three new tracks made available recently to license for any and all your media needs on Premiumbeat! Get ’em while they’re hot…

Sense The Future
A Light, bright, happy and forward-looking piano piece with electronic elements create a contemporary and aspirational piece, which would suit images of technology, progress and achievement. Lively and optimistic!

Picture The Past
A delicate, assured piano piece, accompanied by strings which creates an air of pleasant nostalgia with a touch of hope.

Remember Me
A minimalist, intimate piano track with slowly evolving, ambient string lines. Gentle, nostalgic and heartwarming, though subtle and understated.

I decluttered from April to July, following Marie Kondo’s book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying (which IS effing life-changing, though I won’t go into that so much here).

I liked her approach perhaps as I’ve already been sort of doing it in other areas of life, with interesting effects on work. If I’m completely honest, that’s why I do most things – this work-life synergy or symbiosis fascinates me, how one feeds the other and back again, and how to improve the experience and balance of both – because it just makes life more worth living (it’s completely selfish!).

At heart, to ‘Konmari’ is to go through everything you own, keep what ‘sparks joy’ and discard the rest. Find that which remains a permanent home. That is IT. Everything else about the process is just trimmings. It’s like minimalism, but goes beyond form, function, utility and aesthetics. It’s purely a response to how an object makes you feel. And as a composer I am all about the feels.

Thinking about the last 10 years (I’ve no deadlines at the mo so I’ve been doing a LOT of reflection, perhaps a little bit too much, but what the hell, here goes), I’ve done a fair bit of clearing out of things that don’t ‘spark joy’ or that have lost that spark for me somewhere along the line. I quite working 7 days a week – I take a day off a week when I’m really busy, no negotiating, and I have 2 or 3 days off a week when I’m not up against a deadline, like now. I quit teaching and took a step back from violin performance, which left me with a whole lot more time for composition. That in itself was a momentous event in my work, but also meant I had a fair bit more time for other interests, more creative outlets that weren’t anything to do with earning money. I don’t need to go into any more detail than that. You can imagine, it was pretty chuffing brilliant.

But there are other, smaller changes I’ve made, other areas I’ve ‘decluttered’ because there was no ‘joy-sparking’ to be had, that have had quite large impacts on work and life and everything in between…

I quit caffeine in February 2014.

It was making me anxious and the addiction left me with a headache if I couldn’t find a fix first thing in the morning. There was some joy to be had with that first sip of coffee but it was more habit than an intentional act. Plus I didn’t like being addicted, controlled by an outside force. It felt inconvenient.

However it’s way more interesting what quitting the caffeine did to the tunes I write, at least in those first few months after. I wrote longer melodies – it’s like my attention-span and focus got a little longer and more specific. Not by much, but enough to notice.

I stopped drinking alcohol in January this year.

I was getting some DREADFUL hangovers that really weren’t doing any joy-sparking at all. It feels like I’ve loads more time now, especially on Sundays, and just generally have a bit more energy. Again, not a massive amount, but enough to notice. It’s nice to be able to go out of a Saturday evening and not mentally write off the next morning to fatigue, headaches, nausea and a snotty nose. That time now belongs to me again – some outside force doesn’t have dibs on it (just like the caffeine).

It’s a bit awkward at social events for the first hour or so, but once others get a little tipsy it’s actually quite easy to go along with it, and if I get bored with really drunk people, I’ve the wherewithal to get myself home safely. I can also drive if I want (which might sound a bit sad, but it really is an incredible relief at the end of a night out – definitely more than just a ‘spark’ of joy there. My introversion really does skew my view of what’s fun or not compared with society’s dictats…).

Having more free time to do whatever I want really does impact the work – I sit down to work feeling more refreshed, with a better perspective on the piece which means I work faster, which then frees up even more time to either spend experimenting with sound, finessing the piece or finishing work early. Either way is win-win.

(I’m not saying no to ever drinking booze again mind – I’ve had a few glasses of deliciously old champagne very recently and I think my new rule is probably ‘no to all booze EXCEPT delicious old fancy-schmancy stuff. Makes sense to me anyhow.)

I’ve just quit dyeing my hair!

I’m going grey as a 36-year-old lady might, and I’m bored of colouring it every six weeks if I want to keep the silvers at bay. But what if I look old? Good grief. What if – who cares?

Society wants its ladies to be preoccupied with looking forever youthful, but why? So that we can be more sexually attractive? Who gives a crap? I realised, not me. Will this have any impact on my work? Will this mean that prospective film or theatre clients will overlook me and give the job to a younger model? I realised again, it’s unlikely but possible.

It’s also possible that I’ll look a little older and wiser and said client might trust me with a bigger budget. Who knows?

The point to all this ‘quitting’ and ‘giving up’ is to say no to something in order to have more of the good stuff: more time, more focus, more perspective, more freedom, more joy, not less. It’s not about giving up for the sake of it, it’s not martyrdom or moralistic or even that awful term ‘living clean’ (I think I sick a little bit in my mouth a little every time I see the phrase). It’s about making life just a little bit more bearable (and leaving more room for the potential for awesome).

PS. I’m giving up ‘added’ sugar for November as the autumnal weather has given me an urge to hibernate and EAT ALL THE SUGARY THINGS. Fruit is fine though (‘cos quitting fruit is bananas. Unless you’re allergic, obvs. Which I’m not.).

Pause for Thought

15 October 2015 Miscellaneous

Work is quiet at the moment. This would have filled 27-year-old me with dread. She would find the not knowing quite when the next paycheque will come in daunting. 36-year-old me is different. She’s relieved. It’s been a busy few years since I had an appreciable gap in the schedule like this one, and I’m due […]

Hack Circus Podcast – Musical Manipulation

1 September 2015 Websites and Blogging

A little while back I had a lovely chat with Leila Johnston of Hack Circus to talk, amongst other intriguing topics, about musically manipulating people (with consent, obvs).

Camelot: The Shining City

18 June 2015 Theatre

Sheffield Crucible Theatre, 9-18 July 2015. I’ve been working on the score to Camelot: The Shining City solidly for the last month and a half, and it’s all just about plotted and rehearsal-ready. Dress Rehearsals are in a fortnight so we’re in a good place to get into the finer edits. This has been rather a […]

New Album Release: Emergency Story Penguin

13 April 2015 Theatre

The soundtrack album of music from Slung Low’s Emergency Story Penguin, a play written by John Hunter and co-produced by Dep Arts, has been released. It’s available on Spotify, Amazon and YouTube; it’ll be on Google Play, iTunes and all the other online outlets soon. For an insight into the process of writing songs – and specifically a breakaway pop hit sensation(!) – for […]

Scoring the Song: Emergency Story Penguin

15 February 2015 Composing Music

In January, I hit the ground running. I sketched out a plot of the cues in the Emergency Story Penguin script, Slung Low’s latest children’s show. I realised there was a lot of music in this show and I better get started pronto!

59 Minutes To Save Christmas at Z-Arts in Manchester

15 December 2014 Theatre

Take the whole family to save Christmas at Z-Arts in Manchester! Made by Slung Low, the show runs until Christmas Eve, and tickets are going fast. Shows are at 11am, 2pm, 4pm and 7pm most days from this Saturday (20th Dec) onwards. — The full album is available on Spotify, iTunes, Amazon and all other […]

Holey Moley! plays on CITV

5 December 2014 Television

I worked on this brilliant short animation for Kilogramme Animation back in October. It played on CITV throughout November. So much fun! And, *spoiler warning* the mole gets the upper hand at the end so of course I loved it. From the ComposerWorks site: The BAFTA-winning series, run annually by CITV in which children aged […]

The Aviatrix: Capetown to Goodwood

2 November 2014 Film

It’s November, and I’m just wrapping up the mix on a Christmas Ad (more on that when it broadcasts…). Where did the year go?! Earlier in the year I worked on ‘The Aviatrix’ (at the time, its working title was ‘Capetown to Goodwood’), a feature-length documentary about Tracey Curtis-Taylor’s recreation of Lady Heath’s first female-piloted […]

New Album Release: The White Whale

4 October 2014 Theatre

The soundtrack album of music from Slung Low’s The White Whale, an adaptation of Moby Dick by James Philips, is now officially released. It’s available on iTunes, Google Play, Amazon and all the other online retailers (soon to be on Spotify too, though their databases take a while to populate, so could be a few more weeks yet). Click […]