I wrote this little piece for my late wife, Michèle, who died just before Christmas in 2010. I found that writing a musical diary was so beneficial to my grieving process. I remember at the time feeling Michèle’s loss as if it were a deep wound in my heart. I found that music gently soothed my aching heart and recalled me to the new life that I had to confront – slowly and painfully. A life without her – a life where she was everywhere, yet nowhere. In fact the original title I gave to the piece was “Everywhere and Nowhere”.
However, with the passing years happiness and joy have gradually come back into my life. I changed the title to “First Light” because this title speaks of new beginnings and the return of a future direction so essential to a refreshed engagement with life and the many loving people who form part of that life.
It is a deeply personal rendition but, after so many years, I feel privileged to share it with you
Over the past six months I have written some new piano pieces. These “Songs Without Words” are relatively short and are unashamedly romantic in style.
Each track is a composition in its own right. However, they are connected to each other emotionally and intellectually. They are sincere expressions of my inner world, my “inscape” as it interacts with the “landscape” around me.
As I write this, we are still experiencing the demands of lockdown but, at least, there is a semblance of a return to some kind of normality in the not too distant future.
Music is a wonderful gift of communication and I have been touched throughout the pandemic by the way so many people have danced, sung and played music in order to keep everyone’s spirits high, bring us socially together and provide us with dreams of a better tomorrow.
I rather suspect it will take many years for people to absorb the enormity of the pandemic and its effects on our lives. Slowly but surely we will become less “anaesthetised” to the full social, psychological, cultural and economic damage and gradually awaken to the full horror of the death toll and of a world changed utterly. As with all change, however, it will bring positive outcomes as well. One thing for sure is that we will awaken gradually to a fuller awareness of the fragility of our existence.
I have always believed that communication through music can help us to come to terms with loss and bereavement and begin to dream again. It is in this spirit that I wrote these little pieces of piano music.
The songs have a different feel to my last album “Requiem” (2020). Whereas “Requiem” was about a world of loss and sorrow, hurt and anger, my latest set of songs is about a world of conciliation, new beginnings and tenderness.
“Where?” is a little melody that I found myself whistling. I wrote the melody down and then added a simple chord progression. I don’t do words – I’m useless with lyrics. This annoys me intensely because sometimes my little tunes suggest words and I hear little phrases in my head as I hum the song. As is characteristic of me, I select one of these little phrases as the basis for a title. Funnily enough, “Where?” seems to fit perfectly the sense of searching which I often experience as I walk in the woods.
If you are interested in my little piece “Where?”, it is available on most channels – Spotify, YouTube, Amazon, Apple and many more… click HERE
Following the death of my wife, Michèle, in December 2010, I found that music and walking helped me greatly during the long hours of sustained grief. I felt I was in a bubble far from the world of people and events. Within this place, I found myself composing little pieces of music, my “rien du touts” (“nothing at alls”)
These piano pieces were inspired by lengthy walks along the River Trent. Despite the sadness, I usually found myself humming little melodies in my head. The minute I got home, I would rush to the piano and scribble down each melody in my notepad. I would then work for hours, transcribing the music using a notation app before recording it on the piano. I would lose myself in these little compositions and they soon became my emotional connection to the world, describing the places I visited, the characters I met and the people I love – a kind of musical diary.
In time, these little tunes became an intrinsic part of my life and I began to realise that they expressed who I was as a person, sometimes in emotionally charged ways, sometimes in quite subtle ways! When someone suggested to me that I should share my work with others, I became aware that sharing my music would be akin to exposing parts of myself to external scrutiny. I found this difficult to contemplate because, by nature, I am a very private person.
I had found in the past – largely through my professional work as a psychology lecturer – that it is damned difficult to expose even a little bit of yourself to public evaluation and criticism. I believe this to be a fundamental fear in everyone and pertains heavily to individuals who share their creative works with other people, whether they are in education, business or the creative arts. Nevertheless, in November 2018 I released my first Album, “Riversongs”.
Depite my initial reticence, I have received many kind words about my music from people all over the world. I have found this both pleasing and deeply moving. My only disappointment is that a few of my little “rien du touts” have remained just that, “nothing at alls” because they haven’t been played a great deal. However, they are still very special to me!
Some of my earliest compositions are featured in my first two albums Riversongs and Reflections. These include Riversong, Snowdrops, Song for Michèle, When Will I See You Again, First Light and Amour; which can be found by clicking the album cover images below.