Iain Cameron's Diary
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2006-09-22 - 7:44 a.m.

I went on impulse to the CBSO concert in Symphony Hall. The programme was

Glinka: Overture to Ruslan and Ludmila
Tchaikovsky: Violin Concerto
Shostakovich: Symphony No. 8

No surprise that I thought the music got better the further into the programme we progressed. I thought the last piece was quite extraordinary in all sorts of ways – the sound of the flutes against the strings being just one. Its called the Stalingard Symphony but that probably is something tacked on after the first performance. Its also meant to be the piece that put Shosta and Stalin at odds again after they had made up a little over the first falling out after Stalin awarding him the Stalin prize for the piano 5tet. The thought did flicker across my mind – is there a connection between Symp 8 and SQ8 even though they are over a decade apart – well maybe.

I couldn’t help hearing the Tchaikovsky as the music of a frantic individualism rushing forward to the battles of the First World War and the considered commemoration of Ravels’ Tombeau de Couperin. As for Glinka, I thought I would rather listen to Mozart although I did read that he was quite good friends with Berlioz.

We are making a submission to a parliamentary committee and the process of generating the text has not gone to plan – the result is that I have had to knock out 1500 words in the last day or so. My problem with this stuff is not generating the text but keeping a sufficient distance from it. One of my colleagues has been particularly good at giving good objective feedback – it turns out that he is a drummer who has kept an electric kit on the go.

I am still surprised at my lingering engagement with flute playing. I think there must be part of me that still really wants to do it – and another part which says that its not worth the effort. The latter sentiment feeds partly on the idea that younger players just get better and better.

There was a period during the 90s when I had a kind of platform for classical performance through a local music society. I teamed up with an older piano player who was a member of the society and we would work up little recitals which we would deliver each year at the society AGM. To help me work up the performance I would create practice tracks in MED or Cubase. We managed to play Ravel, Debussy, Poulenc, Bach , Mozart, Handel, Boismoitier and I slipped in an arrangement of an ND song one year. One of his neighbours was an excellent bassoonist and we did some trio material as well. All this came back to me yesterday when I stumbled across the Bach Em flute sonata – which we performed one year. It’s a great piece not least the 1st and 3rd movements which are very favourable to the flute – medium paced. The 2nd and 4th movements are allegro and quite tricky but there is a bit of muscle memory left I was surprised to find.


One of the practice tracks I made on the fast movements used that unusual MED synth and I found what I thought was a new way of programming synths. Because the graphical wave form interface is so quick it is possible to use a different waveform for each note – so you can make the synth bass line more expressive and more mechanical by altering the timbre. Just the bass and top line are quite adequate – you don’t really need the intermediate harmonies in an allegro.

There were some unusual moments in the Bach performance – I remember for example in an allegro losing the line, improvising and picking it up again. I also managed to mix improvisation and written music in a more planned way in Ravel’s Pavanne from Mother Goose. I made a synth version of the other pavanne which I rather liked – an accompaniment for the flute top line. The piece based on the Tombeau de Couperin is intended to go with these 2 pavannes.

I also find myself listening and jamming to another track from the archive based on a slow beat out of a Yamaha beatbox – it has various loops over it and some airsynth.

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