I worked on a few tracks back in May 2012 – arranging one per night and then spending about a week on the finale. As usual, the strings are performed by Steve Bingham (violin), Brenda Stewart (viola), Lucy Mitchell (cello) and myself on double bass. Coincidently, some of the electronic tracks were engineered by my school pal, Pete Vicary – although we had no idea of the other party’s involvement!
Featherdancing – This is a charmingly autobiographical song featuring flute (Naomi-Buchanan-Toms), oboe (Sam Jones) and clarinet (Liz Worth) – and strings. I had a bit of fun here inserting memories of melodies that the three sisters might have danced to. Thanks to Dave Greene for recording the wind at Colchester Institute.
Beautiful Child – Arranged for string quintet with piano. This arrangement just spoke to me and came out naturally. I like to find what I consider to be the right arrangement and often play the tracks on loop in the car to sing my arrangements before working in Sibelius 7.
Silence – This was organic and I wanted to portray what Judy was singing about. I actually listen to lyrics these days! Raindrop pizzicato was inspired by Vivaldi’s Winter but it’s all me really.
Sisterhood of Ruralists – This 12 minute epic of 500 bars is written for 3 violins, 2 violas, 2 cellos and bass. The song is a tribute to the four artists, Catherine Hyde – The Hare Lady, Jackie Morris – The Dragon Lady, Hannah Willow – The Silver Lady, Tamsin Abbott – The Stained Glass Lady. They have formed the Sisterhood of Ruralists. Their artwork and creations are beautiful. Check them all out online and on facebook. The song has a link passage which I ensured wasn’t orchestrated the same way twice. I played mock-accordion in one part, actually it’s a Sibelius 7 harmonica sample! The arrangement is, in part, influenced by Tallis and by the actual artwork which I researched to get into the psyche of the artists. The violin and cello solo in the “dragons take flight” section is inspired by Jackie Morris’ artwork from Tell Me A Dragon where I set one of her short poems into music but no one will ever hear it sung!
Also arranged for this period were two other tracks which I hope that we see the light of day on future editions of the album. Check out Judy’s comments.
Got an hour? Here is a lovely natter with Judy and Jon Downes – including snippets of the album.