April 2021: Zoomy Composing

April 9th

Today we went to Washington. It took quite a bit of the day. We came back through the middle of Newcastle which was a thrill after over a year. Earlier there were lots of chiffchaffs in the rather glorious sunrise.

I took away the uninteresting noise of the car going over all the bumps and have replaced it with a snippet of The Bridge Singers on one of last year’s lockdown videos “Water Of Tyne”.

If you want to hear the whole song:

A very loud wren
Two blue tits
A very yellow yellowhammer

April 8th

There were lots of birds today, including distant barn owls again, and also the sound of curlews and the sight and sound of an oystercatcher. The hedges are at the stage where the tops of them are still clearly defined from the winter cutting, but now with leaves starting to burst through – I like these hedges as the birds sit atop them and show up very well against the background. Also the camera like to focus on the hedges! Lots of people were listening to my primary school songs today too – in New Zealand, which is heartening.

(1) Songs for EYFS and KS1 – YouTube

Songs for KS2 – YouTube

April 7th

A different view of Coquet Island at sunrise, this time from the top of the road in Swarland near the spiky tree. That tree is my current favourite tree and it’s hard to tell if it’s alive or dead.

As I strode through the silent freezing air this morning, pondering on the circumstance that bullfinches and woodpeckers and greenfinches and reed buntings and yellowhammers and chiffchaffs and all the other creatures that I love to spot of a morning were being more sensible than I was and staying in their cosy nests until the sun came up and warmed their shivering feathers, my eye was caught of a sudden by the large white swooping of a barn owl crossing my path less than 50 metres away.

The moon rises over the shed and the sea – clearly it had risen half an hour or so earlier, but it was only now that it became visible!

It emerged from the trees on the right tilting widely, wings outstretched, then headed straight for me. I saw its face so clearly…the heart shape, you know? It then saw me and decided that I was not to be snacked on and veered back off into the trees on the right. That’s all. It was magical and lasted about 10 seconds.

Later on, I watched the orange crook of a moon rise through the apricot wispy clouds over the ocean, cheerily hello-ed with Sharon and Ivey, heard a woodpecker over near the Felton Sycamores, watched a yellowhammer play peekaboo in the hawthorn near the recycling bins and watched the dipping dipper bathing in the river. All in all a good morning’s stomp as it turned out.

For the rest of the day I made this – another reworking of an old video with lyrics now attached and with some better photos of flowering plants at different stages of their life cycle, taken more recently.

Since sharing this, I have discovered that it is only female bees who take the pollen to and from the plants, so there is a “he” in the lyrics that should be a “she”. I don’t feel inclined to do the video again, so I shall leave it be.

April 6th

Tuesday tiredness with some minor attempts at composing

Grumpy greenfinch

April 5th

We had a choir practice tonight even though it was Easter Monday – we’ve found that Bank Holiday Mondays are always well-attended as people still like to sing on a holiday weekend, so I see no reason to change just because we cannot meet up in person. It’s also the first rehearsal after a “concert” and these two things combined usually result in a somewhat relaxed rehearsal.

It was an icy morning for my walk this morning – needed my big orange coat on and found icy puddles by the side of the road.

I asked the choir for requests and they picked three of my pieces amongst others: Skydancer (because someone had seen a hen harrier in Thrunton Woods at the weekend); Even A Subdued Sky (because they wanted o try it as a round); Mustering in Siberia (we haven’t sung this since 2018 so we had a reminder of the tune).

Earlier in the day, Jamie and I were putting this together. It’s a song about chaffinches I wrote for a workshop in Gilsland in 2018 in a threshing barn for Hadrian Singers. ‘Twas a good day. Anyway there are some nice pictures of chaffinches and it’s a gentle song with some interesting vocabulary and folklore. I’ve added the world premiere onto the end of the video too.

A song of chaffinches

April 4th

Sunrise at the seaside
Nice to get the leaping and sunrise in the same photo
Sunrise stonechat
Coquet Island and the windy waves

Jamie and I went to the beach this morning for the sunrise. We picked a good morning as the sun has been shrouded in cloud for the last few days, but not today. It was glorious – a very special occasion: it’ll be the last time I manage to get Jamie up for sunrise until about October, I should think; it was the first time at the beach for either of us since Boxing Day; the sun came out of the sea; the moon was in attendance; there were oystercatchers, linnets, rock pipits, goldfinches, and up at the car park, four bullfinches; there was also a beautiful stonechat posing for me; the only thing between me and Coquet Island were the wind-splashy waves; it was the first time I’ve driven our car in 2021.

April 3rd

Yesterday there was a pheasant. There are always pheasants, of course. We even sometimes have one in our garden. Anyway, yesterday’s stuck around long enough for me to take this photo of it instead of squawking and flapping at great speed in any available direction to escape in dramatic fashion the attentions of my harmless camera lens. What beautiful creatures they are though if you manage perchance to gaze at their astonishing feathers. And look at the frost in the background! Brrr.

Pheasant in the frost

I remember when I was growing up in Worksop, pheasants were a thing we only saw from the car window at a distance when we drove to visit my Grandma in Whitwell. I remember once visiting my friend’s house once. She lived in the countryside nearby and there were pheasants in the field outside her window, close enough to see the colours, patterns and iridescence. I was beside myself with excitement, but she thought I was being a tad too exuberant, as they were as common to her as house sparrows were to me. Anyway, now I’m a grown-up I can be as exuberant as I like about house sparrows and pheasants, no matter what anyone says, so here’s my pheasant photo

April 2nd

A long-tailed tit with a feather for its nest.

And I spent most of today working on a new recording and video for this Easter Week song. It speaks of all the different moods in the Easter Week story. I wrote it in 2011 for Warkworth CofE First School to perform at their end of term Paschal Pageant in the school field. I’ve been meaning to make a recording and video of it, and if I didn’t do it today, there’d be no point for another year, eh?! All the images are of my sunrise walk this morning. The sun barely made an appearance, although it did make its presence felt, visually if not thermally! The moon was out and about though…for a while at least. I also watched a barn owl swooping and gliding – quite a treat. Anyway, I had the song in mind while I was taking the photos so they’re mostly a bit scary and quiet.

April 1st

Peeping lamb

I spent most of the day working on a new video for this arrangement, including the lyrics unlike the previous one. People say these videos are more useful if the lyrics are included. It’s an Easter song, so a good time to do this task in Easter Week!

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