A Sad Canticle

I've been passionately interested in music for most of my life. I started listened to (and playing) black American music like blues, R&B and soul in the early 1960s, progressed to jazz, particularly bop, post-bop and '60s free jazz, which lead me onto listen to modern composers like Debussy, Stravinsky and Bartok . From there I explored backwards in time to absorb the classics from Bach, Mozart, Beethoven and Schubert to Wagner and Richard Strauss. I've spent many nights at the opera and concert hall and am a regular patron of the Wigmore Hall. I like some of every genre from rock, bluegrass and country to reggae. I loved new wave bands like Talking Heads and Pere Ubu, and dub reggae. Popular music is now fragmented as never before and the extraordinary animus between fans of the myriad different genres is pretty off-putting, but I still find myself attracted to some of the experimental music being produced. It feels as though, bored with the blandness of commercial pop, young musicians are rediscovering for themselves that fascination with pure sound and rhythm that was present in free jazz and other '60s "pop modernisms". The technology of music production has also advanced so enormously that people can now create on a laptop computer extraordinary sounds that once were the exclusive domain of the avant-gardists of Paris's IRCAM. Some of the sounds coming out of the dubstep scene and its million descendants, or from musicians like Beck, Liars, Jack White or Saint Vincent, are really very exciting indeed, recalling some of the spirit of Coltrane, Mingus, Coleman, Shepp and Albert Ayler.

I've recently been experimenting with synthesised nonsense vocals that, because they so resemble real human voices, nevertheless produce an emotional effect that's devoid of overt meaning: I suppose if a label is needed it would have to be "expressionist", because I constantly find myself creating tunes that remind me of my outrage at certain current political events. A Sad Canticle is a computer-generated tune I created in Ableton Live using a vocoder filter that produces a no-language/all-languages effect. Its title is a deliberate pun, alluding to the horrors being perpetrated in Syria: it's a long way from easy-listening but I do hope that you might at least be upset by it...