Sunday 8 October 2017

Recapitulation, Part the Second

One of the things about having music in the head is that you (or, at least I) nearly always have music in the head. Sometimes you get something which just won't go away. However good it is, it gets a bit tiring when it seems to be on auto-loop and you can't get rid of it.

I've found this happening a lot recently. The first reason is that I discovered (via Spotify) a series of tunes by Phil Cunningham which seemed perfectly suited to learning on my accordion. I transcribed four or five of them using my scoring app MuseScore, and have been practising them when I get the chance. So, at the moment, they are always around in the head, waiting to be conjured up. The second reason is that steering Erin Mae down a long lock-less section of the Shroppie or the Staffs and Worcs is a classic cause of the mind emptying. The void is immediately filled by the first candidate to come knocking – which at the moment is bound to be one of Phil's little gems. They are wonderful, but they've been getting a bit wearing when I suddenly find that, unbidden, one of them is playing itself yet again.

When, at work, this sort of thing used to happen while I was trying to concentrate on something else in my study, I found two musical items that I could play in the background, which would (a) take the place of whatever was trying to get itself on my internal CD player, and (b) not insist on requiring all my attention (the reason why I have never been able to have music on while studying). They are Górecki's 3rd symphony and Fauré's choral music – wonderful material in their own right, but here used for a less than lofty purpose. They would drive out what else was attempting a takeover. At the tiller, these are impractical, but I have found a substitute. For last Sunday's folk session in Audlem I practised both "Autumn Leaves" and the Incredible String Band's "October Song". Now I find that singing through one of those (almost inaudibly – don't want to give the wrong impression!) has the required effect of eliminating all competing items from my mental sound space.

So if Erin Mae should pass you, and you observe the strange person at the tiller mouthing things with a slightly distant look on his face, don't think he's out of his mind (necessarily). He's merely exorcising yet another recapitulation of Loch Katrine's Lady.


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