Loving My Own Music: January 2019

January 31st
Well it’s the end of the month and I really do love my own music more than ever. I was going to share a brand new recording of some of it with you: I’ve spent the day working on a shortened version of Nae Stream Sae Lovely from my 2009 Hotspur Festival Songs. This has been partially successful. I’ve recorded all the elements of it ready for mixing. My intention was to put it with my photos from yesterday’s walk. Several problems have reared their heads. The video-making programme that I used to use to make all my videos is not compatible with the new laptop, but that’s OK, I thought, I’ll do everything else and then fire up the old laptop until I can get out and find something that does work. Alas, my new version of Cubase (which I use to make all my mixed sound files,) does not work on my new laptop and the old version does not work any more on the old laptop because of the new licensing agreement. Now, the new laptop has decided that it does not want to communicate with the internet, and has a very strange relationship with the printer. I am using the old laptop now, and the new one is on the floor and has been told by me that it is a pile of plop. The old one is also a pile of plop, but at least it still does most of its old rubbish (except Cubase and emails) albeit ploppily. Between them they are providing me with a great deal of frustration.

January 30th
I went for a sunrise walk this morning for the first time in ages. I did the Swarland loop in a clockwise direction, taking in the moon, the sun, two bullfinches, sparkly frost, wintry plant skeletons and a few hellos from passing workmen and dog-walkers. I then worked on an old score and grappled with the new laptop. I wrangled it into doing all but one of the things I want it to do. I managed to make this little fade-in-type video using one of the songs I’m working on, but for longer videos, I need something else. I might have to go back to the old laptop for that, until I can get what I require…..

My newish camera was rather taken with the twigs around the bullfinch – it too needed wrangling!

January 29th
Some pleasing feedback today from people I don’t know personally: “Beautiful! Very haunting and atmospheric.” and “Beautiful! and strangely restful.” about my song Rain, which has been very appropriate today; also “Cool! Fun. I love it!” about my rollicking Zebra ZigZag; also “That sounds fantastic – very clever melody I think. It climbs, but not too high, just like the lowly pigeon,” about Pigeon Hands. All positive feedback is great of course, but when it’s people you don’t know, who just pop up with compliments willy nilly, then it’s most satisfying indeed! Here’s Rain so you can hear for yourselves!

January 28th
Choir night. Lots of laughter amongst the hard work. I solved three or four nagging issues with the new laptop today, which is a result in itself. Already I prefer this one to the old one. My song of the day is this. In my head on and off and throughout the day.

January 27th
Last week, a person previously unknown to me said, ” Do you have any songs for a bass/baritone singer?…solo, or with piano or maybe with a bit of choir, a variety of styles….?” “Loads,” I replied, with just the one in my mind at the time. But you see, once you apply yourself to the task in hand, you discover that you do indeed have loads and so tomorrow morning I shall be able to send off ten scores with more in the offing if these don’t suit. Let me tell you the ten:

The Lullaby of Robert Landreth (my initial thought, because it was written for and performed by the most excellent bass/baritone Matt Landreth)
Ooh Ladyfinger
No-Umbrella Blues
Pigeon Hands
Five Carracks
The Fisherman’s Farewell
Maggie’s Rant
My Bed Is A Boat
Loud Blaw The Frosty Breezes
Scroggam

Most of these were initially written as solo songs, but have since been choirified, and now they return to their former state and will hopefully be liked and performed by the bass/baritone. It’s been a happy task transposing and tweaking these songs. Every single one of ’em is a corker…and Jamie agrees so it must be true!

Here he is on one of ’em. I put it down a third for the new collection!

January 26th
I’ve started using my new laptop. There are things that I need to get used to, but so far all’s well. It is mostly a deep shade of blue, which in itself is rather thrilling. Would you like to see? My camera (which I’m also getting used to) decided to take a set of arty shots of it!, and here’s a bit of my music (the music I’m tinkering with today) to help it along. My video-making programme has not made the transition to the new laptop so I’m having to learn a new way of doing that too!

January 25th
Today it’s been Bach and Byrd – the former for The Bridge Singers, the latter with Rock Festival Choir at this evening’s first practice of 2019. In between there was baking and then chatting and all very cheery. Here’s the Bach.

January 24th
Dealing with scores: Simon and Garfunkel; J.S. Bach; Cheryl Camm. A tuneful list. Here’s a little bit of my piece with some appropriate ducks, which I was printing for Rock Festival Choir. This is them over 10 years ago singing it. Next performance March 17th at St. Paul’s, Alnwick.

January 23rd
A new laptop arrived today. It’s for me. The one I’m using at this very moment has never been my best friend, but you spend a load of money on a thing and so for several years I have gamely persevered with it. But its end is nigh. The new one is in mid-setup, so this could be this one’s last day of usefulness. Also today my song Magical Glass was described as “brilliant” by someone I do not know personally. Also today, I’ve been working with Simon and Garfunkel because their songs are also brilliant.

January 22nd
Tired Tuesday again, and yet I spent a lot of time with this song today and am now happy with the version we’ll be singing at choir. I also spent a very happy evening with three lovely choir friends and one very chilled puppy, and then Jamie came home, so Wednesday’s looking good.

January 21st
Up at 3 to do some arranging of music and to keep an eye on the lunar eclipse. It was shining so very brightly when I got up that the entire village was lit up outside my window. After a while I donned my outdoors gear, grabbed the torch and headed up through the frosty garden to watch the middle of it all. After I was too cold to be bothered with that any more, I came in and continued to monitor the situation through the window as I worked. There is something rather splendid about being out on a very still night when really anything in it’s right mind is still abed, and watching a remarkable phenomenon. Every now and then one of our neighbour’s outdoor security lights came on, but really the only thing doing anything was the moon. These pics are the first, the middlest and the last I took (the last from inside!). On the whole, my camera struggled with the situation, but my eyes did not 🙂
Later it was The Bridge Singers – singing, jollity, a 12 minute AGM then nibbles and chat. Also today: more sales of scores, more arranging of music and teensy haggis sausage rolls, also Jill Carol and I sang ABBA songs to each other for a while in the afternoon amid much laughter.

See as I’m loving my own music, here are these three photos again with the last verse of my setting of Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Moon!

January 20th
Jamie and I went to Newcastle today to see Stan & Ollie and The Favourite at the Tyneside Cinema. We like the two films in a day thing. Usually we go for lunch in between, but not today because we were not especially hungry, so instead we went to the Laing and had a coffee and/or a slice and look at a bit of art – war time watercolours and art of the people including this banana which we thought unlikely, due to the lack of them at that time, but maybe the supply hadn’t dried up in 1939. I only had my phone with me, and I find it hard to hold steady, so it’s a bit blurred, but you get the idea! As for the films….well we enjoyed them both very much, but we both liked The Favourite a little bit better on account of it being more thought-provoking, and the music being rather odd in an ear-tingling way and the visuals being a bit striking. I especially liked all the dresses being black and white. Jamie didn’t notice that. Before the Laurel and Hardy film played, they showed us some newsreel footage of them in Tynemouth from their archives – rather special, and a buzz went round the place when the film brought them to Newcastle. Both films made us a little sad, but we were generally in high spirits on account of it being a simultaneous day off, which we like.

January 19th
Good morning from Northumberland! It’s a song about St. Cuthbert on his island with his ducks. Soon to be performed again by Rock Festival Choir

Also today, I wrote half a report and passed it off successfully as a whole report…I can now write the other half at my leisure without being badgered. Stealth-badgering is something I am reasonable at spotting but react badly to!

January 18th
I have continued to enjoy reacquainting myself with Golden Rain Baby today, but mostly I have been preparing a score of Monteverdi’s Gloria a 8 for choir to sing. I also felt a bit naff today and therefore was a bit yawny during Fingers Adrift this evening, which was a shame because the music was fab. Here’s Monteverdi anyway:

I have over 5000 followers on my seapieparcel Twitter profile, which I principally set up to promote my music, and have been pondering in recent months how to use it more efficiently and effectively. I decided to make lists, but to do this I had to consider each of those 5513 followers, so for the last four weeks I have included each of them in a tweet, saying hello and attaching one of my videos and then posting them into a word file from which I can then easily find them and make sub-lists. It’s been nice to get to the far end of the list and find people I’ve been following for six or seven years and who get somehow lost in the melee of my feed. I finished the task today. so, onward to the next step of the task. In the meantime, here’s bit of lullaby!

January 17th
Today I had a meeting with a vicar about a performance we’re doing with The Bridge Singers in May. Even though it’s his “gig”, he’s happy with all my choices so tomorrow I can go ahead with ordering music! Also today it snowed!

 

January 16th
A song I wrote for my pal Sarah when her son was born, and a video I made for my pal P.g. Monkey-Camm.

January 15th
I’m not a big fan of Tuesdays on the whole – always tired from a lack of sleep. The lack of sleep is always due to a buzzing mind from choir on Monday night. This Tuesday’s blues were emphasised by the ongoing paint-on-the-floor issues and the fumes that pervade the house from the various paints themselves and the stuff I sometimes have to use to dissolve them. Also, Jamie wasn’t here. Also the radio was full of the Brexit vote. We can only really get the one station down in the utility room where I was working on the paint – Radio5Live. It’s a fine station and the presenters are entertaining enough, and they speak to people from all sides of the arguments, but people whose minds are already made up do not explain anything particularly well, I find, and some do not even explain their point of view very well, and some merely have one sentence which they repeat endlessly – usually, “We voted to leave – let’s just leave,” or “No-one seems to know what they’re doing,” or “We need a people’s vote – the referendum arguments were all based on lies.” I heard Jeremy Corbyn deliver speeches not particularly convincingly. I heard Theresa May deliver speeches more articulately, but I found lots of holes in what she said and was not convinced. I heard various politicians being interviewed, but again, they were one-sided and unclear, as is their characteristic trait. One of these was my own local MP who I’m afraid I find incredibly irksome. Also this very computer upon which I am writing, and to which I periodically flee to escape the fumes, has been playing up all day. Perhaps it has heard that it is being replaced later this week and is being mardy. No music today, either. Pah! I did get a little bit of nice feedback on this one, though! “Charming and calming, accompanied by some rather beautiful photography.” Thanks Christine!

January 14th
Paint clear-ups aside, I’ve been busy with choir matters, and then we had an exceedingly cheery rehearsal this evening. I did hear, however, from one member that the choir as a whole dislikes “Alison’s K6 Telephone Box” and wishes we didn’t have to sing it. We will be singing it again because it’s been specifically requested for one of our upcoming performances by the person who has asked us to sing, but I’d better dig a bit deeper into that. I had always understood that it was reasonably popular! In other news, more scores have been purchased – quite a bumper crop of sales at the moment!

January 13th
I went to Wakefield today and had a very cheery and busy day of making music about Barbara Hepworth’s circles with lots and lots of families. Before I left, I noticed that the shelf in the utility room upon which all our pots of spare wall and wood paint sits had, fallen to the ground, depositing paint all over the floor and splashing various of our other things in there – a big colourful mess it was…and still is, because I’ve been in Wakefield all day and Jamie has big meetings in London on Monday and had to prepare for them, so only really had time for an intense clear up of the most urgent damage. However, all was merry otherwise, and here is some Hepworth circular music from a previous visit. I was way too busy today to take photos or record anything!

January 12th
We visited the household waste recycling depot in Morpeth today and got rid of the piles of stuff sitting on the utility room floor. We watched some telly, we sang in the morning with some village friends, we sang in the evening with some Lionheart Harmony friends. A quiet day. Someone ordered copies of my arrangement of Westlin’ Winds. Here’s a snippet of that one!

January 11th
Some cheering feedback about my music today: “Still the best squirrel song ever….”, “I think this would become a favourite of any choir that sang it. Nothing like a rousing March and this has a soulful quality to it.” “Love this Cheryl – what a talent!” “Just love this! I know plenty of children (and adults!) who will love singing this!” “Love the appropriate church choral feel to this piece and the glissando sigh at the end seems fitting and is very effective in MHO.” “Cheryl, I love it!” “This is so cool! Fun song!” ” It was a lovely song to start the day with!” Also, some scores sold. All in all an encouraging day! Several of these comments were about this one! Happy birthday!

January 10th
Two lots of cheery singing today. This morning in Wooler depping for Veronica with the Cheviot Singers for their first go after the holidays – so lovely to see these happy ladies again for a bit of ABBA and a couple of spirituals and one or two others we had up our sleeves. Then back home for a cheese-straw-making in readiness for tonight’s Lionheart Harmony – just five of us on account of illness and London, but so good to be back singing again ready for our gig on Saturday. Today’s song of mine that caused me great delight was The Swing. It’s Jamie’s favourite, he says and the first choral piece I ever did compose to celebrate the birth of Roseanna, who I believe would now be in her mid 20s:

January 9th
I had reason to listen to this today. Happy memories of St. Michael’s Primary School in Wakefield working as part of Yew Tree Arts Ltd a few years ago. Nice tune, I and they thought at the time, and I still do!

January 8th
Tuesday tiredness goes with a teensy bit of gardening and a teensy bit of musicking and lots of administrative tasks. One of these latter was to send off to New Zealand, an order of three copies of this book of delightful and energetic songs for young choirs and classes – 20 songs all tried and tested and what’s more each song comes with a backing track if, like me you’re pianistically challenged! It’s called Sea Pie Parcel.

January 7th
Choir started back tonight after several weeks off. What an absolute thrill it was to be back. That’s all.

Leapin’ and hoppin’ on a Sunday mornin’

January 6th
A brilliant start to the day – managed to get this photo with Jamie at sunrise – the coordination between us and the camera (working on a 15 second delay) was astonishing! Jamie doesn’t often come on these early walks, so that in itself was a thrill. Then, quiche to make as we’re mostly using up eggs and cheese at the moment. Also I took the printed scores off to the choir librarian and met Leo the puppy for the first time. In the last week and a half I have met and cheerily interacted with eight dogs in their homes – five at once on one occasion, one of which was a Great Dane. I barely flinched – my Dad would have been proud of me. Dogs on the beach is another matter entirely. Also, a lady stopped me in the street today and said, “You’re Cheryl Camm, aren’t you? I’m a big fan of yours. I heard your Chantry Chapel Carol at a concert. It was my favourite song. I loved it. When I got home, I looked you up on the internet and have listened to lots of your songs over the holiday. I love everything of yours I’ve listened to.” “Thank you,” I replied. 🙂

January 5th
It was the 12th Night Tudor Revels in the village tonight, which is what all the practising has been about this week. It was lots of fun and a merry time was had. I’ve spent a lot of the day printing music for The Bridge Singers, which starts up again on Monday – wedding music, “music Bob liked” for his memorial concert in May, Ascension day music for our guest appearance at Brinkburn Priory and Autumn Music for our Autumn Tour to Cumbria. This one might get a go, I think.

January 4th
Working through lists, contacting vicars, adding to a wedding spreadsheet, finding hymns, arranging music – lots of music, printing music, chatting cheerily with choir and village friends, singing in the village hall, recordering in the village hall, fluting in the village hall, being a choir director, being a village musician. This song was my favourite of the day, performed here by the wonderful Stairwell Carollers.

January 3rd
Making lists, contacting brides, adding to a wedding spreadsheet, finding hymns, arranging music, chatting cheerily with choir and village friends, singing in the village hall, recordering in the village hall, fluting in the village hall, being a choir director, being a village musician. This song was my favourite of the day.

January 2nd
Making lists, contacting brides, making a wedding spreadsheet, finding hymns, arranging music, singing in the village hall, recordering in the village hall, being a choir director, being a village musician. This song cropped up twice.

 

New Year’s Day last year. Same place, same time this year. The sun came up the same, but today was slightly warmer, slightly windier and slightly splashier in the wave department. This song is still great though. Boy, I’ve written some good uns, and I am resolved (as it the time of year for such things) to tell you this more often as they really should be sung by more and more people!!! https://youtu.be/dEkPyk1sszQ

January 1st
As we marched along Ross Sands, a thin sliver of a moon and Venus at our backs, seeing how far we might get before the sun arose, the waves were behaving in an exceedingly thrilling manner. The tide was coming in and we stood and watched it envelope the sandbanks. As each new stretch of sand was overwhelmed, there were bubbles and in one case a geyser, as the air fled the scene.
As the sun peeped through the waves out at Bamburgh Castle, we messed about and I discovered that I can change the timer settings on my newish camera to a 15 second delay and six or more shots in a row. I’m very happy indeed with my newish camera, which also communicates with my phone, rather helpfully.
As we played the “how many people do you think we’ll meet before we get back to the car” game we soared past Jamie’s guess of 4 to precisely my guess of 13, all of which were in the last half hour of our three hour walk, and three of whom were our choir friend Sue and her family. All 13 of these walkers wished us a Happy New Year, one’s canine companion gave us an inquisitive yap, and one wore pink trousers with a yellow coat.
We saw many a bird on the walk, but the highlight of my birdy day was a very close encounter with a volery of long-tailed tits back at our garden as I was pruning the rambling roses. One of them was for quite a time within an arm’s-length, but I was being very still at the time so as not to alarm them so was unable therefore to grab it…but I could have! They stayed for three or so minutes and then departed.

 

Anyone know a marimba player? Here’s an energetic concerto for marimba and strings inspired by a Vivaldi bassoon concerto and some African marimba playing I heard when I lived in New Zealand. It’s had a few performances that I know of – in Australia, New Zealand and Norway! More would be good! https://youtu.be/_6Hyjf5FUfw

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