my lady saw me weep

my lady saw me weep 2.1 (c) 2010 written and performed by Cameron Pyke, this recording (c) 15 Sept 2010 by Cameron Pyke & Ambisonix, remastered by Ambisonix.

my lady saw me weep 2.0 (c) 2010 written and performed by Cameron Pyke, this recording (c) 15 Sept 2010 by Cameron Pyke & Ambisonix.

Work in Progress, complete with mistakes and issues as one take, no edits or overdubs.

22 October 2010

This piece has been ‘up’ for some time now without any comment on my part. It’s doing quite well on the stats – second highest performer – my thanks to everyone who’s brought this about.

It’s a pretty little tune.  I think I can say that fairly safely without compromising my modesty – at least the public face of it. Hey, nobody does this sort of thing without a grossly inflated ego.

The title is an inversion of ‘I Saw My Lady Weep’ by John Dowland. It’s not entirely serious,  not really a pastiche …and, let’s face it, not fit to be compared with the Dowland.  Maybe it conjures up Tudor ladies tripping some stately moves round their handbags. However, the harmony is  a ragbag of clunky triads and jazz chords.  Add to this some quasi-Flamenco razzing and you’ve got a real mongrel. But it hangs together!

On a scale of moderate self harm to full slitting of the wrists how suicidal does it seem? Nah, not really.

There are words. It was a song once. I played a recording to some people. Once. It was so ‘orrible I decided to amputate the tune from the words. But being a frugal sort and not averse to a bit of affectation I kept the words with the tune. You’ve heard of Mendelsohn’s Songs Without Words? This a Song What is Not Meant to be Sung But Has Got Words Anyway. You may appreciate the conceit even if the label needs working on.

The words are published as a separate post. Feel free to have a look. It’s lament on middle age graced by maybe one snatch of grim humour. I make no apologies. The likes of Roger Waters have got very rich bleating on in much the same vein.

And yet it’s a pretty tune. This reminds me of when I used to (several lifetimes ago) sell fine art reproductions – packaged in a rather dubious format.  I really shouldn’t be owning up to this, serious artist and all that.  It paid the rent.

Anyway, Kandinsky pictures sold like hot cakes. Well, they would. They’re… PRETTY!

Certain influential Russians didn’t like Kandinsky because he was individualistic and bourgeois. The Nazis exhibited and then burnt (Arts Council take note) some of his work because it was degenerate.  I cannot honestly admit to being moved by any profound political message emanating from a Kandinsky picture. Maybe it’s because I’ve never seen an original. Personally I find about as much controversy in a Kandinsky picture as an episode of Sesame Street. That doesn’t mean it’s not great art.

Conversely, I heard a customer say “Oh, I love that Guernica…have you got a Guernica? What about a nice big Guernica for the dining room wall?…so relaxing…”  Not for me to tell her that Guernica was a snapshot of genocide in progress.  And for that reason I would never have  had a Guernica on the stall. Shame, missed a sale there.

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another country 2010

another country (c) 1993, 2009, 2010 written and performed by Cameron Pyke, this recording (c) 15 Sept 2010 by Cameron Pyke & Ambisonix.

Recordings on this WordPress so far are work in progress, complete with cock-ups and problems, recorded in one take, voice and guitar, no overdubs.  I always welcome advice on technical or artistic issues. If  you really love, or really hate something, please comment.  I may not agree with you but I’ll be very grateful for the input.  You could visit the small symphonies soundcloud and leave a timed comment right next to the bit that bothers/delights you.

You can read the words and listen to a previous version and there are notes about the development of the song on these posts.

This version reverts to some of the feel of the song when it was performed back in 1993 by my London band The Intrepid Box. The three piece rock band version was faster but at the same time wistful and atmospheric.  Last year’s recording was plain bonkers. I was puzzled at the time why I felt it should be that frenetic, considering the subject matter.

The texture of this new arrangement flicks back and fore between fairly conventional fingerpicking and razzing. ‘Razz’ is the word I use to describe a technique borrowed from Flamenco. I’m sure I don’t do it right, therefore it would be presumptious of me to call it ‘rasgueado’.

I’m a huge admirer of Flamenco but I have no ambitions to play it.

I am still working on the trick of switching from razz to rest stroke, which calls for a shift of RH position and the stumbling scale  at the beginning of the instrumental section is a clear example of this not happening.

If I should ever by chance…


Poem by Edward Thomas, published 1917. Set to music by Cameron Pyke.  Recorded on the Calrec Soundfield Microphone by Ambisonix on 15/09/2010. (c) music 1982, 2010, Cameron Pyke.  (c) recording 2010 Cameron Pyke, Small Symphonies & Ambisonix. 

 Work in Progress, complete with mistakes and issues as one take, no edits or overdubs.

I posted the words to this song over a year ago, along with some notes about its origins. Briefly, I stumbled on the poem 30 odd years ago and almost as I read I was hearing melody, piano  and orchestration. I couldn’t play piano, didn’t have an orchestra. It was put on a very slow back burner. A couple of years ago I dug my sketches out of the filing cabinet and reworked it for guitar.

This was recorded at the third Ambisonix session 15 Sept 10.  There were about five takes. One was better in terms of less mistakes, but this one has a slow, wistful feel. So although I mangle the word “Childerditch” and the guitar stumbles here and there, it had to be this one – for the moment. There will be other recordings.

I have performed this song twice at open mic nights. It is not exactly sing-along stuff. The first time was in a hardcore acoustic (no amps allowed) venue which should have been well attuned to the occasional oddity. The response was not ecstatic. However, the MC said it was beautiful and bought me a drink. The response was similar at another open mic  which is normally very receptive to my material.

It’s mostly arrythmic – tempo rubato – the melody is sometimes angular, sometimes chromatic. It’s ‘through composed’ – the melody does not follow a structure based on repetition and variation – like AABA.

As a pop song – it’s a dog. Nobody will be dancing round their handbags to this one.

Nevertheless, there is a melody and it is a melody, not a tune. The poem says something to me, even more than it did 30 years ago and I believe that the music well expresses that. In particular I am pleased with the line “she must find them before I do that is”. Suddenly here there is almost a romping rhythm where there was none before and simple wholesome 1st inversion triads. To me this conjures up the young girl skipping ahead of her middle aged father to find the flowering gorse.

Yes, furze is gorse. I did not realise this for a long time. So Thomas sets his daughter a task which she cannot possibly fail.

far too easy 2010


Far Too Easy version #2.0 15/9/2010. (c) words and music 1993, 2009, 2010 Cameron Pyke. (c) recording 2010 Cameron Pyke, Small Symphonies & Ambisonix.  Recorded on the Calrec Soundfield Microphone by Ambisonix.

Please note that all recordings on this WordPress so far are work in progress, complete with mistakes and issues, recorded in one take, voice and guitar, no overdubs.  If you feel you can help me with a technical or artistic tip, you really love something, or really hate it, please leave a comment.  I may not agree with you but I’ll be very grateful for the participation. If you want to rant about a particular semi-quaver or glitch you could visit the small symphonies soundcloud and leave a timed comment right next it.

20/9/10  You may have heard this one before. If you haven’t, you might like to cast a lug at the 2009 version , and an eyeball at the words.  I listened to it a few minutes ago and was struck by just how much this song has changed.  Its whole feel and outlook has changed.  The 2009 recording is perhaps angry and desperate (and technically woeful).  Now it is sad and reflective (with the signature crystalline Ambisonix treatment). 

This is one of my more immediately accessible songs – it is strophic – has verses, a chorus and a middle eight. So this is a song that I trot out regularly at open mic evenings. The subject matter is unashamedly …depressing? Actually, it’s not. There is a small glimmer of hope embedded in it – which I didn’t realise until recently – I’m going to write some additional sleeve notes about this.  Anyway, despite the catchy chorus it’s uncompromising social / political comment. Entertainment it ain’t.

Given that at these open mics we’re sort of trying to have a good time I tend to send myself up a little.  As I see it, we can have a laugh at my expense between songs – it shouldn’t detract from the impact and the message of the song when it’s being sung.  I have been taken to task for this. A guy who had worked in radio commented that it was a powerful song and I shouldn’t do it down, sell it short.

This was recorded at the second Ambisonix session. I wasn’t as stressed out as the first time but I wasn’t properly in the zone either. I can do this more polished. In particular, the ‘guitar solo’ stumbles and needs to be less tentative, more assured.

APF – a genre is born

APF stands for lots things. In my childhood it stood for American Puppet Films which was an early brand name for Gerry Anderson’s creations. It appeared as a logo framed in a cartouche in the opening sequence of Stingray just after Commander Shore announced “We are about to launch Stingray.” It stayed on the screen for a rather frustrating few bars of dum ti tum, dum ti tum; dum ti tum, dum ti tum before the real stuff got started.

But as of 23:43 BST September 12 2010  it also stands for Acoustic Prog Fusion. Below is a screen shot of a Google search for Acoustic Prog Fusion. There are no exact matches. You read about it here first.

So MOR, AOR, R’n’B, R’n’R, HM etc., etc., and now APF.

What can you say about APF? It’s acoustic; the songs are rather obscure, long and meandering; it’s associated with artists who would prefer not be categorised:-

“Yeah, we don’t like to be put in a box and labelled, man. One thing we are definitely not, most emphatically, absolutely not,  NOT APF – no way man.”

The movement originates in South Wales valleys in times of dire economic hardship where the Hammond C3, the MiniMoog and the Mellotron have were carted off to Cash Converters long ago. What look like stone circles on the mountainside are often encampments of proggers sheltering in their Vitavox Thunderbolt bins.

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Cameron Pyke

Cameron Pyke, Small Symphonies. Photo shoot at Beaupre Castle, Dom Stocquelor, Welsh Icons

Photo courtesy of Welsh Icons

“that bald singer had the whole room mesmerised at the end, pure genius. “ Norris Nuvo, audience member, Green Rooms, Treforest

“Cop a listen to Cameron Pyke’s Small Symphonies – nothing else like it on the planet” Andy Brice (of  Zipper), Church Village

“Your tracks are so refreshingly original and imaginative – I’m really enjoying them!!” Brenda K, The Panache Orchestra

Used to be a classic rock guitarist with an SG and a Marshall.  And a plectrum.  And a White Van.

Now play the nylon guitar. With fingers. And a pushbike – no, that’s a lie – but you get the idea.

Used to play with bands. Mostly covers.  In pubs.

Don’t do bands anymore. Sing my own songs. In pubs.

Like to do some other places: art centres, festivals, house / home concerts.

Working on an album with Wookiemonstah of  Ambisonix as Recordist / Producer / Mentor. The album will be one guitar, one voice, no overdubs. The working album title is Stranger on My Own Street.

THE ALBUM IS NOW ONE YEAR ( AT LEAST ) LATE. WHY?

This blog is intended to lay bare the workings of the project.

Cameron Pyke