The focus of my studies for the beginning of the course is on Historically Informed Performance (or HIP for short!), and this links to another new and exciting musical challenge that I hope to take on this year: namely to start writing songs that might contribute to VoiceMale’s ever-expanding repertoire. HIP, you see, springs from the musical mindset that all performances should first-and-foremost strive to recreate the original intentions of the composer. But the truth is that this effort often conflicts with the creative process of putting together a performance that’s personally expressive and relevant to an audience at a given place and time. The matter is complicated still further when you consider pieces that are written by and/or performed by groups of people rather than by individuals, which brings me onto my song writing aspirations for VM…
I’ve had an idea for a song that’s been swimming around my head since my wife and I visited Japan last November and we read these words about the Peace Bell in the Hiroshima Peace Memorial park:
May it ring to all corners of the earth
To meet the ear of every man,
For in it throb and palpitate
The hearts of its peace-loving donors.
Taking as my lyrics these words and others from inscriptions around the park, I’ve started working on a song of peace for VoiceMale to sing. To be honest, it’s been a long time since I’ve written anything so challenging as a piece for four-part unaccompanied male voices, so I’m a bit daunted about it, but also excited to be creating a new piece with a specific group in mind. One thing I do have to bear in mind, though, is that VM have a very pragmatic approach to rehearsals: once I’ve introduced the song to Keith, Dave and Dave to sing, I need to accept that it belongs to them as well as to me, and will be open to tweaks, changes and (most likely) improvements. My song should be a living, breathing work for us all to sing and contribute to – there’s no room for VM to try to recreate an authentic aural facsimile of my original intentions as they were when I conceived the piece.. I just hope that my fragile ego can take the hit and enjoy the collaboration!