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The number of pages to orchestrate in the Tchaikovsky was rather larger than I had anticipated, but rather than discouraging me, this merely spurred me on to spend more time on it yesterday. As a result it appears that this work might even be finished today, which would put me just over a week ahead of schedule. Seeing as some other small pockets of work – programme notes and the like – have just turned up, this extra time is welcome and will help to keep the pressure off.

The plan for today, therefore, is to finish this arranging and then do another stint on my latest choral piece. As the general half-term feeling seems to have seeped into my own life this week, it seems an ideal opportunity to try to get as much done on this piece as possible. I shall also try to put a narrator’s text together for another work, although this will very much be version number one, with a long way to go. Neither of these works needs to be complete for a while yet, but I am planning ahead in case exciting things happen in America.

Ray Bradbury, who died on the 5th, was absolutely on target, writing about people walking around with non-stop music and news channelled directly into their ears, not reading books. I use my iPod almost exclusively for listening to podcasts, partially because, as an old fuddy duddy, I fear for my ears, but also because music should be an experience and not a background, something listened to rather than heard.  I’d also rather be improved by what is fed into my brain, given the chance.

I’ll also never listen to my iPod on the tube, as, at the kind of volume required, it can only do damage, and my previous life as a drummer has undoubtedly contributed to the loss of my higher frequencies. Rather I will read something, often one of the gorgeous Folio editions in my collection, books which are a pleasure not only to read but also to own. I have nothing against e-readers per se, especially if they encourage people to spend their spare time reading who otherwise would not, but the tactile delight of quality paper is still something to savour.

Bradbury said much that was beyond wise, but I particularly admire his ominous saying that “You don’t have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them”, and worry again that, like some genres of music, reading is viewed by the cool young as something elitist and old-fashioned. Reading, like owning a pet, experiencing a Mahler symphony live or playing a great board game, is something that showers rewards which can never be adequately explained to those who have never done it. Writing too, whether words or music, which is why I enjoy updating this blog, and why I am about to fire up Sibelius and get on with the business of the day.

Ray Bradbury – “You’ve got to jump off the cliff all the time and build your wings on the way down”.