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After my rant of yesterday I have calmed down a little. I did what administrative work needed to be done, some cooking (the Italian in me emerged to throw together a pasta carbonara), a little bit of writing, though not much, and then relaxed in the evening. The second half of Saturday now stretches before me, its hours unclaimed as yet, and I think that I should aim for a second stretch of writing today, given that I have already managed a fairly productive morning.

Having been a little worried about the text for my latest piece, I have found instead this morning that I have made swift and easy progress, developing a musical language which suits the matter at hand, I hope. Having initially sketched onto paper, I have spent the morning writing directly to computer, which appears to have opened up many new ideas in my mind, to the extent that the outer sections of the work are now complete enough to be considered a first version. There is a large gap in the middle at the moment, but, as long as a decent idea presents itself in my mind before too long, that should be filled possibly even before the weekend is out. I have not sent myself a deadline for the piece, but it would be bordering on luxury to be able to finish it, leave it and come back to it before the end of January.

I have decided to use the acoustic scale, so beloved of Herbert Howells, the equivalent of C major but with an F# and a Bb to replace the F and B. When writing choral music with positive emotions I often turn to the raised 4th (F# in this case), because it aspires upwards to the dominant – my Missa Sancti Nicolai was written in this way, also Shew Me Thy Ways, a piece which fulfilled the same kind of remit as this current work, a positive memorial.

Acoustic scale - that F# aspires upwards

For any British choral singer, however, the acoustic scale is so linked with Howells that a writer must turn a few corners in order to avoid his shadow. By accident rather than by design, although it turns out that it works rather well, I have been using quartal harmony (chords built using fourths rather than thirds), and the link with Herbert is much looser as a result. It is intriguing how traditional scales can be completely reworked to provide as modern a sound as one wishes without the need to resort to microtones and the like. After a slightly quiet period I feel that I have rediscovered some of my enthusiasm for the possibilities notes offer.

I have also decided this morning that Monday must be the day when I begin to send a new batch of pieces out to unsuspecting and not-yet-interested parties. I have a secret weapon sitting on my hard drive, a detailed and meticulously researched spreadsheet full of prospective targets. Not anything contravening the Data Protection Act, I hasten to add, but enough to make sure that whatever I send out will be unique to that person and designed to be of use and, just maybe, of interest as well. A message received which is clearly part of a large and impersonal mailout seems plain rude, so I shall write each and every missive individually and tailor the pieces concerned to the needs of each and every choir. I need to strike while the iron is still hot from my Christmas performances and broadcasts, and the entire process should take until the end of the month.

I should also get back into the routine of editing pieces and uploading them to my website. I was doing this for a while last year, but then fell out of the habit as work and other commitments took over, but it is important to attack this once again as soon as possible. The whole process of sending out pieces to people will inevitably mean that I will have to put some of my older pieces in the house style, so that will be a rather effective way of killing two birds with one stone.

Had I still been a peripatetic music teacher I would have been back on the treadmill for a while now, and the January quietness has meant that I have had a fair amount of leisure time so far this year, all of which makes my frustration at having to deal with other things more acute. It is also of critical importance to me to partition free time. For many years I did without weekends and bank holidays, but these days I agree with Shakespeare. Says one of the magnets on my fridge “Let every man be master of his time”. I am not entirely sure that it was that fridge magnet on its own to spark my revolution/madness/call it what you will, but it certainly set me thinking. I shall be working during the rest of this afternoon, but not in the evening. That will be for relaxation and, hopefully, the quiet satisfaction of a day well composed.