I hope you are enjoying the colours of autumn! I’ve been a bit of a hermit/caveman of late. Recording and mixing and making my tinnitus worse, as you do. What prey tell am I recording?
You may remember that I performed a few WB Yeats themed events this year as part of the 150 years celebration of his birth. I’ve been exploring his poetry with Stephen James Smith in Ireland and Denmark, with Séamus Barra Ó Súilleabháin in Dundrum and with Cathal Quinn on Culture Night and in Tokyo. It’s been a very eventful year on the Yeats side of things and I decided a few weeks back that I should record all of the Yeats poems I have worked on over the last few years.
I’ve decided to call this project “Whorls” (pronounced a bit like Whirl but with an o) I first came across this word when i studied palaeontology as part of my degree in geology. A whorl is one of the twists or twirls of those conch shells (or Gastropods). The word crops up in Crazy Jane Reproved which is one of the Yeats poems in the project, so that’s what I’m gonna call the project, “Whorls”. In my mind each poem is turned into a Whorl by giving it a melody and setting it to music.
One of these Whorls, The Wild Swans At Coole talks of trees in October
The trees are in their autumn beauty,
The woodland paths are dry,
Under the October twilight
The water mirrors a still sky…
So before October is out I wanted to let you know I’ll have a slew of these, (17-19) WB Yeats, poems before the end of the year. The plan is to put them up on Bandcamp in batches of 5 or so at a time for people to listen to or buy. Firstly though to get you and me used of the idea, here is The Wild Swans At Coole, which those of you who attend The Lazy Band will be familiar with.
Each Whorl is produced a bit differently in some cases making use of some techniques and effects I’ve developed working with other people’s poems, prose and in the play, Everlasting Voices. I’ve been using the ipad as my recording workstation and because of all the new musical apps out there I’ve been having fun with some brand new sounds too. So as always it’s a learning experience.
Each track is recorded with what I call a base track of myself singing the Whorl with guitar. Then I inflict different
sounds on top of that and see which adds to the vibe or feeling of the track. I was hoping to keep the whole thing minimal and some are, but you can get carried away with all the possibilities so I hope I haven’t overdone it too much! Ha! I’ve gone back to the experimenting tinkering style of producing akin to what I did on my first album Oxygen 21. I hope this’ll make it an interesting listening experience for you.
Sure let me know what you think of this first one and share if you think someone else might enjoy it.
Oh and here’s the poem
‘The trees are in their autumn beauty,
The woodland paths are dry,
Under the October twilight the water
Mirrors a still sky;
Upon the brimming water among the stones
Are nine-and-fifty swans.
The nineteenth autumn has come upon me
Since I first made my count;
I saw, before I had well finished,
All suddenly mount
And scatter wheeling in great broken rings
Upon their clamorous wings.
I have looked upon those brilliant creatures,
And now my heart is sore.
All’s changed since I, hearing at twilight,
The first time on this shore,
The bell-beat of their wings above my head,
Trod with a lighter tread.
Unwearied still, lover by lover,
They paddle in the cold
Companionable streams or climb the air;
Their hearts have not grown old;
Passion or conquest, wander where they will,
Attend upon them still.
But now they drift on the still water,
Among what rushes will they build,
By what lake’s edge or pool
Delight men’s eyes when I awake some day
To find they have flown away?