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Yesterday I began work on the organ part for my latest piece. This has come about rather haphazardly, as the music began with an organ part underneath the choir, but I later jettisoned it and concentrated on writing for a capella voices. Now I am adding the organ back to the more or less completed choir setting. This is a rather unusual way to go about the compositional process, although it is certainly interesting.

It does mean that the emphasis is going to be primarily on the voices, but it also gives me a whole pile of melodic, rhythmic and harmonic material to draw from when adding this extra part. I feel that there might be some irony to come here in that the organ part will be very tightly linked to the music, despite it having been added at a very late stage in the process.

As things stand at the moment, though, I have to say that this has all turned out pretty well. The central section of this piece, for a competition, is sounding pretty feisty, which is exactly how I want it, and the outer sections more meditative and calm. The organ writing for the more agitated section is falling into place without too much difficulty, but I have yet to decide what I am trying to aim for in the calmer moments. Decent stints yesterday and today have helped me to keep the ideas coming for this piece.

I am enjoying the cooler weather and the emptier diary this week, using the time to ease back into some board gaming (Stone Age yesterday, my tribe getting comprehensively thrashed) and to watch some films. In the past week I have brought myself up to speed with Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy, which, despite being blockbuster fodder, is better by miles than those rent-a-celeb versions from the 90s, and been ‘treated’ to some lighter offerings by my other half. Tonight, following today’s declaration that Vertigo has now surpassed Citizen Kane in film experts’ estimation as the greatest film of all time (has it got better in the past 10 years? Has Kane got worse?), I sat down and watched Hitchcock’s film. The iconic score is by Bernard Hermann, although some bits of it appear to have been borrowed from Debussy and a particularly climactic moment swiped wholesale from Tristan. Still, Hermann wouldn’t have been the first composer to steal ideas from Wagner, and those of us in the know are aware that Wagner nicked those ideas in the first place anyway, so maybe there’s some poetic justice in there somewhere.

Anyway, Vertigo is a spectacular film, its use of colour akin to In The Mood For Love or Kurosawa’s late masterpiece Ran, but, for me, Citizen Kane still wins out in pretty much every department. It cannot compete in matters of colour, obviously, but in terms of scope, ambition, technological advances, narrative and goodness knows what else, Orson’s epic still takes some beating. In fact, at times it is positively Wagnerian.

Innocence in the snow. Citizen Kane still rules the roost.

 

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