A clarinet performance, and a protest against compression!

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I found this image of a clarinet next to a precariously tipped glass of martini, on Getty images. I would be rather worried if I were the owner of that clarinet….

I have written a work for solo clarinet called “Michal 06”.  It will be receiving a second performance on 18th September in London, at the New Winds Festival, played by Phil Edwards.  I’m not sure yet of the venue, but will keep you posted.  Please keep this date free for this, and newer works for winds.

Michal 06 starts off as jazz, then progressing into a section based on oriental-style modes, which in turn progresses into a section which is Impressionistic in character. Although these three styles are so contrasting, the transition from one into the other seems seamless and natural. In the final section, these three styles are fused.

You can hear a recording of Michal 06 played most beautifully by Phil Edwards here:

If you’re thinking:  I’ve heard it now, so there’s no point in coming to the recital, my answer to you is:  not so!!!  Now it’s familiar, you’ll enjoy the performance more, and you’ll be getting the live, visual, compression-free experience.  Martini:  I think you’ll need to bring your own.

Speaking of compression:  I’m starting to think it should be outlawed!  I understand completely why so many people are reverting to vinyl, and am so pleased that I have kept my vinyl collection.  I used to feel music played on my record player with all my being, and now, with mp3s, it’s as if it’s all 2D instead of 3D.  My priority, as soon as I have the space, is to get a really good sound system, and to do away with mp3 recordings as far as possible.  It’s so convenient to be able to listen to Youtube recordings or to go to Naxos, but for the listening experience, I think it was far more worthwhile to make a trip to the music library, incur huge fines, etc. in order to take out LPs or even CDs.  Surely performers and composers want people to hear their music at its best, and not all compressed and flattened and deadened.  They could start refusing to allow their music to appear in mp3 format – but only really established artistes could really afford to do that.

In the meantime, it seems a whole generation has only ever heard compressed mp3 recordings, except when they go to live concerts.  How sad is that?!!!

Bell or Pas Belle!

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I came across Michelle Thomas’s blog:  Tinder Date – it just appeared on my computer screen and I clicked on it – about some creepy man she dated who specifically wanted her to know (by lengthy text) that he felt unable to fancy her (to put it delicately) unless she were a “slip of a girl”.  (It does sound like a grown woman is not what he’s after!  Does he need to read Susie Orbach’s Fat is a Feminist Issue!)

It reminded me of a boyfriend at the age of 20 who said to me:  “Honestly!  If you just lost a couple of stone, and you wore a pair of tight jeans, you’d walk across the room and you’d be irresistible!”  If I’d lost a couple of stone, I think I would have been close to skeletal, and I don’t think that was what he actually wanted!

It also reminded me of a poem I recently unearthed while searching for something, which I wrote a long time ago, based on a conversation with some French-speaking guy – not the same one I refer to in Artichoke Heart (earlier blog).  I use the name “Chantelle” mainly because it rhymes so perfectly with “belle”, but apart from that, I used to be known as Chantelle in folk clubs back in the day!  As for him – appropriately enough – I have not the slightest recollection of his name!  I hesitated to publish this on my blog for a few reasons, including:  reluctance to reveal inaccuracies in my French (apart from poetic licence); reluctance to expose the fact that my poetic writing doesn’t stand alone without music!  Yes – I would have written this with the purpose of singing it in folk clubs – but fortunately (perhaps) I didn’t sing it anywhere!  So here it is!

Tu n’es pas belle, Chantelle

Il regardait mes yeux, et il me dit

Pourquoi, dis-moi, tu te pas maquilles?

Je répondis, c’est la moi réelle

J’ai pas besoin d’être trop belle

Mais tu n’es pas belle, il dit, Chantelle

Tu n’es pas belle, Chantelle


Tu n’es pas belle, Chantelle, Chantelle

Tu n’es pas belle, Chantelle

Je trouve que tu es laide, en effet

Tu rassembles un peu à Madame Thacher

Mais tu n’es pas belle, Chantelle, Chantelle

Sauf que t’es triste, Chantelle


Tu m’attires à cause de ton scent

Ton parfum, peut-être, ou ta lotion

Tes cheveux sont beaux, comme un bébé ta peau

Et tu es spéciale dans ton genre

Mais tu n’es pas belle, Chantelle, Chantelle

Sauf que t’es nue, Chantelle


La beauté se trouve dans ma famille

Ma mère, ma soeur – elle est très exotique

Mon père était beau, comme moi, ainsi

Je ne te plais pas?  Je dis oui

Car je savais la peine de:  tu n’es pas belle

Pense-pas que t’es belle, Chantelle


Et dans le miroir, l’image tout clair

Laide comme le péché, un visage sévère

La beauté à voir vient de dedans

Mais la beauté dedans peut fuire dans un moment

Non, tu n’es pas belle, je me dis, Chantelle

C’est vrai, t’es pas belle, Chantelle


Et dans le marché, et dans la rue

Les vendeurs de légumes, les vendeurs de fruits

La sueur qui tombe de leurs fronts comme ils crient

Pour que t’achètes pas de son voisin, mais lui

Tu n’es pas belle, j’entends, Chantelle

Pense-pas que t’es belle, Chantelle

Tu n’es pas belle, mais laide, tu sais

Tu rassembles un peu à Madame Thacher

Et tu n’es pas belle de tout, Chantelle

T’es laide et pas belle, Chantelle


M. Herman