Two Hundred Words Under the Sydney

SydneyCityofLifeCityofColourSydney.

It is a total relief to be back where sunny days are considered normal, pedestrian crossings are much less harrowing/ambiguous to deal with, and if you want to get alcohol you get to go to a separate non-grocery store. I heartily apologise for the lack of updates – it has been more than a little hectic resettling back in Australia, and while there have been many stories accumulating as a result, they are unfortunately only self-interesting when placed in the context that most people experience them upheaving to a new (or old) place. As of now I am piano-less, ensemble-less and inspiration-less.

In other words, a musicologist. :O

I considered saying something about how I’ve been institutionalised by my time in the UK and I’d probably be swinging under a ‘Brooks was here’ etching in a couple of weeks, but it wouldn’t be true at all. Perhaps fittingly, my last artistic endeavour in the UK was a Matisse-style single-line drawing of the stodgy Postman Pat photoshop job from a few posts ago.

Irony

Utter crap.

But as they say in gay Paris; Cat haute vitesse vaut attraper ver tôt!

Nine more words bring the word count to 200.

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On The Concept of Postman Pat

I mentioned the Improvisation on the Concept of Postman Pat a couple of posts ago and I think it deserves a little more of a mention/explanation as it’s a thoroughly remarkable piece. While the main performance went un-recorded in my rare and baffling observance of institutional rules, there was some rehearsal footage that survived (below). This one is a fragment from the second parcel.

But first … or second, to recap:

“The piece was ‘written’ by Brisbane percussionist Cameron Kennedy – a musical innovator and performer of rare humour and intellect. It was first entirely improvised for mixed percussion by Cameron at the 2010 Australian Percussion Gathering, and he wrote down the instructions at the request of Hugh Tidy, who performed that ‘version’ in 2011. Cameron then revised and expanded the instructions for this recital to incorporate the piano as the primary instrument.”

And so, dear reader, it is essentially a structured improvisation… on the concept of Postman Pat. And while it is entirely permissible for the original theme song to crop up thence and whence, (and it deliberately opens quoting said material), the postal element of the piece lies more in it’s structure – short individual ‘parcels’ featuring specific spoken fragments from the episode “Postman Pat and the Cranky Cows” (complete with various British accents) and a set of guidelines for each segment’s musical parameters. Thus involved are the emphatic shouting of things such as:

“Would you look at that Dorothy… They’ve started on me broccoli now!”

“The sheep have taken a liking to our green vegetables, Pat.”

“Is there a postman in the house?”

… all while manipulating electronic delay, a percussion battery of very flexible instrumentation and two or more pianos; one prepared in a rather germane* fashion (germane?! Oh no, I’ve become my supervisor!) with a copy of the very program note describing the piece.

My favourite instruction was from the somewhat liberal “Cameleoparcel:”

Mentally identify a member of the audience and create a musical representation of what you imagine their life to have been like thus far.

"Well that's the Ted Glenn Automatic Sheep Disperser"

“Well that’s the Ted Glenn Automatic Sheep Disperser”

And that’s the great thing about the Postman Pat: the hyper-flexible and practical approach it lends to performance: There are no wrong notes or musical decisions, at worst just unconvincing ones. Whether or not it will go down well with an audience is another thing, but ultimately that is down to the performer. In any case, many thanks are due to Cameron for the fantastic music/concept.

*appropriate or relevant. I learn one new word a year and that was 2012’s.