music

Chicken man

I just watched an entertaining episode of Grange Hill there. What will that shrieking ginger tycoon Pogo Patterson get up to next? But it reminded me of the brilliant fact that the original Grange Hill theme tune is called Chicken Man. Every British person of a certain age knows that music and most of them do not know that. It sounds a bit like a guitar made out of a squawking chicken and it is by ace library music composer Alan Hawkshaw, who lives in a semi-detached house and wrote the diddly-doo music for Countdown and the importint-news! music for Channel 4 News.

I ate a delicious chicken based pizza too!

The rain came down

I did not see any meteoroloids as it turns out. Because of cloud!

I had a super day out bikling today though and went to Barnet, came back via Tescos where I bought healthy chicken salad ingrediments, stopped at the Dignity for a couple of refreshing pints of Leffe and to do the Telegraph crossword, and then relaxed with intellergent dramas such as I, Claudius. It does not get much better than that really, except that I also recorded a new session from the Archway Guitar Quartet!

I am damn unsatisfied to be killed in this way

I have had a nice relaxing day chomping bacon, reading Hikaru No Go and listening to Julian Gray & Ronald Pearl’s Baroque Inventions. In between times I am also reading Richard Fortey’s The Earth: An Intimate History, and plotting the delicious curry I will be making later.

So it is a good day all around really. Also, more songs from the Archway Guitar Quartet:

Welcome to Jazz Club

Here are some bits and pieces that we recorded last night in Matt’s living room. It is the Archway Guitar Quartet’s debut release! I hope you like it.

Ligeti's Volumina

Imagine taking a full-scale cathedral organ, the kind with three million pipes and a basement full of machinery, turning all the blowers right up to ‘hearing damage’ mode, and then leaning on all the keys and pedals at once. That’s the opening chord of Volumina.

You feel as though, in settling down to write this piece, Ligeti carefully collected together lots of textbooks on classical harmony, sacred music, organ writing and so forth - and then chucked them out the bloody window. Volumina is an exploration of the sound limits of the organ, making it sound like the most adventurous of synthesizers before such things were even invented. Ligeti conjures extraordinary, hallucinogenic soundscapes from the instrument. Eerie floating, throbbing textures of wind moaning through industrial piping give way to furious explosive rages that sound as though a serious bar brawl has actually broken out inside the organ. In between these are frankly disturbing collections of noises that sound as though they were made by no Earthly instrument, ranging from banging on the pipes to blowing across them to what sounds like the hoarse, dying bubbles of someone choking to death on a kazoo, while someone twiddles the tuning knob on a radio.

One reviewer wrote “Volumina is a piece whose notes (every key on the organ, in fact) are sustained throughout its entire fifteen-minute length. What makes this piece so unique, however, is the way in which these static notes are manipulated in order to demonstrate the instrument’s full range of sonic capabilities. The work is not about melody; in fact, most casual listeners would consider it to be somewhat if not entirely unlistenable. Rather, Volumina was composed to explore the complete spectrum of sound that can be expressed by simple, unchanging notes without any reference to melody whatsoever.”

You might be more familiar with Ligeti’s work than you think. If you’ve ever watched 2001: A Space Odyssey and started thinking, “Dude. This music is pretty fucked up right here,” that’d be Ligeti. Volumina is about as avant-garde as you can get without going right beyond music and breaching the Geneva Conventions. The mere performance of this piece has actually destroyed two organs, and caused a complete electrical failure in the Royal Festival Hall.

It is one of those things which, a bit like perforating your cheeks with a stapler, is really nice when it stops. But after a few listens it does grow on you. At times you just want to laugh out loud and shake Ligeti by the hand for being such an outrageous fucking nutcase. I can see him sitting there, scoring a particularly horrific anti-tonal sonic assault, chuckling to himself and scribbling in the margin, “That’ll shit them right up.”

After listening to this have a good long lie down in a darkened room with a cocktail of anti-psychotics.