Composer, author, lecturer, guitar teacher

Posts tagged “Moeran

Symphony as landscape

It has become a common sight in the last few years to see people walking around with ear-pieces / headphones listening to music. I usually only do this if I’m in a train or coach for several hours, but the other day I decided to try headphones during the 45 minute walk into the city centre. For playback I took a Sansaclip device. This is a portable music player only a little bigger than a matchbox. What’s great about it is that it will hold and play FLAC files – much better quality than mp3. There’s about 50-60 hours of classical music on this device. I left the house and started playing Moeran’s [1st] Symphony in G, a very attractive English work from the late 1930s with a strong Sibelius influence in parts. I was intrigued and surprised to find that I found the experience disconcerting, as though there was a cognitive dissonance between the music and the external world I was seeing on the walk. I thought about it afterward and decided that for me the experience of a symphony is like an inner landscape and I can only satisfactorily respond to one landscape / journey at a time. Physically moving through another at the same time is too much. Perhaps it would be a less dissonant experience with songs only.




Play Great Guitar

I have just heard that there is a Kindle edition of my book Play Great Guitar published by Infinite Ideas. There is a discount on it at the moment. It is suitable for beginners and people who have a couple of years’ experience on guitar. Their website is

Since I last blogged I’ve had tentative discussions about another book in my Backbeat songwriting series, which would appear in 2013. I’ve been working on another writing project not to do with songwriting and making good progress with that.

I have a short article in the Music You Might Like series in the new edition of the journal of the Ralph Vaughan Williams Society.

Talking of books I can recommend record producer Tony Visconti’s biography Bolan, Bowie and the Brooklyn Boy.

On the creative front I’ve revised two scores for string orchestra – ‘From Cornish Springs’ and ‘The High Oaks’ – and have worked on generating new audio for them. I’m now ready to write the strings for Kate Bush’s next album … should she need me. 😉

I was also writing some acoustic guitar instrumentals, but that project has got pushed out for lack of time.

Since I last wrote the acoustic player Bert Jansch has died. I interviewed him back in the 1990s around the time of the release of Crimson Moon. I always found his music a little on the dour side; much preferring the brighter, more mercurial John Renbourn for folk-baroque British guitar.

I was intrigued to discover recently that the unfinished second symphony of E. J. Moeran has been completed and recorded on the Dutton Epoch label. First listens suggest it was a worthwhile thing to do. Unfinished symphonies are an interesting topic. Moeran’s first symphony (Symphony in G) from the late 1930s (I think) is a very enjoyable piece. There’s a good recording on Naxos. It owes something to Sibelius, who was dominating the world of the symphony in the 1930s and 1940s, but not to the point of it spoiling Moeran’s music.