17 October 2008

Cymbal Banging Monkey

For the next month or so I’m working on two new pieces of theatre in Leeds. They’re completely unrelated, but my gigs do have a tendency to clump geographically, as random things are apt to. I try not to read anything into it but my irrational neo-cortex doesn’t half like inferring deep meaning into patterns where there are none… but I digress…

Blackthorn plays at the West Yorkshire Playhouse from 13-17th September; so, this week, based on the initial brief from director Jacqui Holness-Martin and the script by Charley Miles, I’m sketching a few ideas for music styles or themes… which is a fancy way of saying that I’m throwing stuff at the wall and seeing what sticks.

I’ve got three quite stylistically different sketches already written, with potential ideas for two more. It’s an odd process of plucking notions from thin air and trying to pin it down with the synths and samplers I’ve already got, or concocting ambiences and atmospheres that may or may not make it into the palette of the show’s sound design, all the while trying to head off that niggling, insistent, internal voice that likes to state, upon hearing the first tentative note, in no uncertain terms, that it’s, “shit and no-one would want to listen to it never mind it being completely inappropriate for the show and did you even read the brief and maybe you should go and make a cuppa and have a biscuit and really think about what you’ve done with your life-“. And so on.

Then, ignoring the chatter, I’ll write a few more notes and harmonies and add another instrument or three and she starts to come around, that, “maybe it’s not so bad and actually it’s quite nice and maybe you could take it off on a tangent here-“. What a chattering little monkey that inner voice is. Bless.

Then next week, for two weeks, I’m working with Slung Low on It Happened Here, an audio tour/installation around Holbeck, launched on 17th September. The audio is completely pre-recorded dialogue, sound and music. It’ll be available to download and listen to as you are led by the story on a walking tour of Holbeck – and in theory it could also be a standalone radio play of sorts (no pressure for the lovely writer, John Hunter, then!). Though the launch isn’t ’til the 17th, the bulk of my work must be finished by the 26th August after which I’m back on Blackthorn, so I don’t have time to mess around – I’m very much looking forward to ignoring that nay-saying little voice. No second-guessing allowed as we’ve got to hit the ground running!

Back to Blackthorn and rehearsals for two-and-a-bit weeks and then the show is on – first night is the 13th. It’s a beautiful debut script, gentle and funny and contemporary all at the same time, so should be a joy to work on. That little chattering monkey better take a back seat ‘cos I’ll have even less time for her.

After that there’s a couple of days grace just in case It Happened Here needs any last minute tweaks before launch, and then… me and Ms Monkey Chatter can get back to nattering.

Image by FHgitarre

The evening concert for the National Commemoration of the Centenary of the Battle of the Somme on 1st of July went to plan and was well-received. Phew!

A photo posted by Heather F (@hethfen1) on

I may write more on it later… though now, for me, is all about taking a bit of time to rest and recharge the batteries. To be honest, I took a couple of days off directly after the show finished before going back to work. I thought that would do the trick. Boy was I wrong! Though I did get through some work – a pitch for a cartoon miniseries and a budget for another little thing, it was more of a slog than it should have been. I’ve bitten the bullet and given myself this week off to see if that helps.

After powering through the last couple of months on the Somme project, fatigue snuck up on me and the creative well is running a bit dry. Politics, world news, the state of the climate… Right now, the world is travelling a touch too fast for me to keep up. I need to pause and regroup for just a little while longer so as to return ready for the next adventure!

Though I still find myself at the computer, pottering in the studio, attacking that mountainous paper pile of receipts. It’s quite hard to do just… nothing. Hopefully this slower pace with do the trick though – focussing on things other than what the next note or rhythm or modulation should be. Maybe a change is as good as a rest?

National Commemoration of the Battle of The Somme

2 June 2016 Composing Music

I’m in the middle of composing the music for a small section of the concert that will commemorate the First World War Battle of the Somme in Heaton Park, Manchester, in the evening of 1st July. The concert will feature a children’s choir, the Halle Orchestra, Lemn Sissay reading a new poem commissioned for the […]

How This Introvert Learned to Love Being In A Live Performance – 15 Minutes Live 2016

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15 Minutes Live by Slung Low, which played this year at The Holbeck (previously Holbeck Working Men’s Club), Leeds, was an awful lot of fun. More than I was expecting! I’m trying to pick apart why, and here are my thoughts. Is it just that I’m older and wiser, I’m working with friends, I’m far […]

Birthing Partus – Writing Music for Devised Theatre

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January was all about Third Angel‘s Partus and in February I worked on the preliminary score for Red Star‘s latest 3D animation. An excellent, varied and challenging start to the year in all the right ways. I’m now starting to think about the latest edition of 15 Minutes Live – on at The Holbeck, Leeds, 10th […]

Saving Christmas Penguins, Theatrical Soundtracks and Other News

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It’s turning out to be rather a lovely end to 2015 – Both Emergency Story Penguin and 59 Minutes to Save Christmas are playing concurrently at The Crucible Theatre in Sheffield. It’s a bit surreal to see billboard advertisements for it dotted around the city centre but I’m attempting to deal with it without squealing […]

Three New Tracks Available on Premiumbeat…

24 November 2015 Composing Music

I’ve three new tracks available to license for any and all your media needs on Premiumbeat.

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up… Your Life

3 November 2015 Miscellaneous

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, […]

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 […]