Wednesday, 14 February 2018


Here's a quick run-down of how this project arrived at where it is today.

Some friends from the brass band / brass quartet world and I started to take an interest in the music of the sixteenth-century. There are some commercial arrangements for brass  of some great tunes from the period, such as Pass Time with Good Company, Earl of Oxford's March, King's Hunting Jig. It was easy to find sheet music for much more along the same lines (original manuscripts and more usefully, readable transcriptions) and create the four parts that we needed.

That worked out pretty well, we ended up with some OK recordings but never performed in public. I felt the need to be doing something a little different with the music.

I think Blackmore's Night's Locked Within The Crystal Ball was my epiphany. It turns out to be based on Stella Splendens (took me a long while to make that connection). They really make it rock and add their own lyrics.

There are more projects along the same lines - I absolutely love The Bones of All Men by Phillip Pickett & Richard Thompson. It's a little less 'rock' but still adds a modern feel to the music. There's Apocalypse Orchestra, nice and heavy but maybe a little doomy for me. And numerous bands such as Eluvitie and Saltatis Mortis who are successfully combining ancient and modern instruments and the feel of the old music with modern rock.

At around the same time, I had an accident which put me out of action brass-wise. (A pavement-face interface which led to some dental work and surgery on my top lip.) That door closing led to some new doors opening - I learned recorder from scratch and bought an electric guitar for the first time since my teens.

I'm gradually getting better at recording this music. It's taken a lot of trial and error to find the most suitable microphones and A/D / USB interface (currently SM57 and a Roland QuadCapture) and I've moved to Logic Pro from Garage Band.

The quality of my recordings isn't perfect and my performances still leave room for improvement, but it really isn't about those things. It's about the concept - finding out what can be made by blending the new and the old.

As I write this I've completed around eight tracks. These include a Status Quo-inspired Lady Hudson's Puffe and a flugelhorn performance of Early of Salisbury's Pavane that I'm really proud of. (Back in action brass-wise, with limited stamina and range.) I'm loving the possibilities!

I'm planning to use this blog to write about the things I learn on the way, some of the great music I find, my development with new instruments (drums and percussion!) and anything else that occurs to me.

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