I’ve found that the two expressions – music and story – seem to flow from each other and inspire each other. They move the emotions in different ways, but to equal depths. Given that relationship, I thought it might be nice for readers to be able to feel something of what I felt while writing.
Music is a passion for me, so it was only natural that I started composing scenescape-type pieces at about the same time I began with the world of the books.
In the Whisper is a track I released a few years back under the name Sparrowland. In this one I was trying to capture the tingling crispness of imagination and a sense of wonder.
Minstrels, I think explains itself. Here I was picturing a group of minstrels travelling through midland hills, forests, rivers and farms … the Mistyvales, really. As with many tracks, you’ll notice Celtic and African influences, which to me are among the freshest, wildest and most captivating strains of music.
The Fairground – one with vocals. There’s something magical about fairs. As a boy I used to visit the local town fair and a bigger one in a nearby city. Wandering around the stalls and stables in the lonely hours always left me so full of feelings I could never quite comprehend which only made them more captivating. It was these memories that inspired this song as well as the chapters devoted to the autumn festival – among my favourite to write.
I’ve always liked the idea of stories set to music – as seen in the book with the northern rilloms. This was inspired largely by my own dabbling. The Weaver is one of these experiments – something of a fable set to music. It was a demo I knocked together during an idle day in the studio and I’d hoped to come back and trim the rough edges, but the files were lost, so this is all there’s likely to be for a while. Don’t judge it too harshly.
This is another demo – files lost on the same drive as The Weaver’s. I originally wrote it for a good friend, Simon Painter, who was putting together a dance show that never emerged (though Simon has subsequently launched several other enormously successful shows and is now a widely recognised name in the business). I wrote the music and Simon arranged most of the rhythm section. I’ll never forget him laughing his head off as I did take after take in the studio trying to get the Irish whistle to sound the low D. These whistles are big and they have a beautiful, rich tone, but you need pretty sizeable hands to reach those low stops and I almost dislocated my knuckles in the process.
With this piece, Folk Dance, the mood is very much what I’d imagined while writing the scene where the apprentices join in the dances during the festival.
The Fool of Time – based on a magical old poem by Thomas S. Jones. I’ve always loved words that paint, so when I read that first line, “Across the fields of yesterday,” the images began to appear and beg to be put to music. There’s a deep melancholy to the original poem, but I saw in it the opportunity for hope as real as the despair behind the original words.
There are one or two more in various stages of completion, including my favourite. If you nag me I might be encouraged to nudge them up the priority list.