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It has been a very pleasant few days of tweaking the piano score of 1215: Foundation Of Liberty, listening to Wagner’s Die Walküre and overseeing the latest hidden surprises thrown up by the building works in London. I also had the pleasure of accompanying the Parliament Choir for the second run through of O God Of Earth And Altar, rehearsing with JEBO in Bristol, attending a wonderful concert in Wells Cathedral and finding myself plastered across the centre pages of the local Somerset papers.

As I write this my London “working week” is finished and I am looking forward to retreating to my study and getting on with the orchestration of 1215. I must admit that, for all its technicalities and occasional headaches, I do really enjoy writing for orchestra, an opportunity to present in vivid technicolour what has previously only existed in charcoal sketch. I had the opportunity at college to study orchestration with Grayston Ives, known to most as Bill, and it was a series of lessons I have always valued immensely. I learned a huge amount from Bill about how to write for an orchestra and still regularly use little tips and tricks which he taught me. It is those little details that make the difference, and, of course, having worked so closely so often with Southbank Sinfonia has not exactly been a hindrance.

Having tippy-toed around Der Ring des Nibelungen for many decades, I am finally being drawn into the whole thing, I think. I have avoided it because I am aware that it can become an obsession, and, being obsessional by nature, I am worried that it might overcome me. When it comes to Wagner’s music I am acutely aware that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing, and that my composer’s mind wants to get to the bottom of all those leitmotivs, the way they are used and the ways in which they evolve, change and interact. Not a nice man at all, of course, but by heavens the music is stupendous.

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Luke and Leia…sorry, Siegmund and Sieglinde.

One of the many happy side-effects of being in the West is that I am much closer to my band, and we have begun rehearsing in earnest with a view to performing and recording again in the near future. The only fly in the ointment is that we are currently sans singer, and although we are ticking along happily working on the material, it would be good to have a decent and solid singer on board as well. Maybe they are just a phone call away.

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JEBO – there’s life in it yet.

Lastly, it was good to hear board games getting some proper air time on BBC Radio 4’s More Or Less the other day. As we Geeks have long known, Monopoly and the like are the oldest of old hats, and the programme promised us insights from a chap who has apparently done some statistical analysis (it says here) to work out the best board game in the world. His answer tallied exactly with the top rated game on Board Game Geek, the Trip Advisor for gamers, as it was described. Call me cynical, but it did seem to be more than a coincidence that the two tallied. Was there really statistical analysis involved, or did he just go to the site and look up the top game? The thing is (as we Geeks know) that the rankings on the site are done with weighted averages (Bayesian, I think), meaning that Twilight Struggle, ranked number 1, actually has a lower average rating than, say, BattleCON: Devastation Of Indines, which is only ranked at number 140.

The Bayesian best.

Maybe I shouldn’t quibble, for it is good to see this pastime beginning to acquire some serious credibility. I wouldn’t recommend for a second that you should dive in with either BattleCON or Twilight Struggle should you happen to be interested, but it could be worth checking out Indian Chief, Lines Of Action or the wonderful Arimaa – all completely free and playable with a pack of cards, draughts and a chess set respectively.  I’d be very happy to give you a game.  When not orchestrating, of course…

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