I have mentioned musicians in the past, and I apologise for doing so again.
Normally the musicians I deal with are those performers who play their instruments at the events I am brought in to stage manage. They are sadly predictable, drinking anything that isn’t locked up and seducing anybody who isn’t strictly chaperoned.
Yet there is another level of musician; those who compose the music. These individuals probably stand to performing musicians as a great playwright stands to the actors who mangle his words and murder his syntax. This higher class of musician is a far more sophisticated beast than the mere performer.
They’re also far more diverse. Some of them seem to hide away in garrets, almost as if they were novelists, before emerging blinking into the daylight, bearing their next masterpiece before them like a shield. I confess I have some sympathy for these. Unlike novelists they don’t churn out inordinately lengthy works which can waste weeks of one’s life. After all even the longest and most dire opera is unlikely to last more than five hours. A bad novel can apparently last forever.
Then there are those who both write music and perform it. These seem to fall into two subsets. There is the older, more mature performer. They can be male or female and are true masters of their chosen instrument. Sitting through one of their performances can be a humbling experience. One feels vaguely honoured that one who has achieved such mastery has condescended to let you, in some small way, share in it. Often one is left with the feeling that they write their own music because nobody else can create anything
which challenges them.
Then there is the younger performer. For choice these are attractive young women with excellent voices who write and perform pleasant enough songs which suit their age and vocal range. I cannot vouch for their artistic merit but they always elicit enthusiastic applause. If you pick an appropriate audience, an attractive young man with similar accomplishments can do very well.
To be honest, if I manage to inveigle any performer who writes their own music to one of the soirees I oversee, I feel I have done my best for my patron. They can rest assured that the evening will be memorable.
Yet even in music there are rivalries and jealousies. Even worse, there are fashions which inexplicably sweep through society. So this week, a certain attractive young lady with a fine voice singing the pleasant songs she wrote herself will be all the rage. A fortnight later I might suggest booking her only to discover my patron struggles to remember her name. Suddenly the artist has moved from being fashionable to forgotten.
Indeed I have come to the conclusion that for the singer-songwriter things are harder than for poets. Whilst a poet is only ever as good as their last body of work; the work seems to somehow last. For the singer, everything seems to transient.I always felt sorry for Clarisina Errund. A delightful young woman with great charm and a definite gift when it came to playing keyboard and other instruments, she struggled to achieve the recognition she deserved.
Obviously young ladies in her circle were not really expected to have to work, but between ourselves, the money Clarisina earned from the sales of her sheet music were her dress allowance. Her widower father struggled to cope with failing health and a failing business, and whilst he could just about keep his daughter fed and housed, clothing her was beyond him.
She wrote beautiful melodies, but when she was invited to perform, people would listen to the tune and comment that they’d heard somebody else play that a week previously. Indeed on one occasion she sang as she played, only to be told by the hostess that she preferred the other words to the tune.
It was on one of these occasions that she smiled gamely, retired to the next room and burst into tears. I was present at the time and hastened to comfort her and asked her what the problem was. Apparently somebody was stealing her tunes.
This is indeed serious. But what to do about it?It seems that because of the general poverty of her family, they couldn’t afford to own a spinet and so when she was working on a tune she had to do so at the houses of various friends. It appears that others were taking advantage of this, listening to what she was creating, and noting it down and using it. This was a problem, but how to overcome it.
She mentioned that a young gentleman, a Rayand Hublank, had been supportive and had encouraged her in her work. Apparently he’d sat with her as she composed music. It appears that young Rayand was proud owner of a spinet and was quite an accomplished player. Obviously she could work at his house, but given he was a single man living on his own, propriety would be outraged if she were there on her own. Given that she suspected some of her female friends were party to the theft of her tunes she couldn’t invite them to chaperone her. To me the answer was obvious. I would be chaperone and could get on with some of my own work at the same time. Rayand was approached and proved almost embarrassingly enthusiastic to be part of the project. Thus and so, we met together to consider the matter and to come up with a plan of campaign.Things started innocuously enough. Clarisina had in mind a light and frothy little tune. It was a mere nothing really, pleasant, catchy, and adequate.
This she ‘composed’ in the presence of Rayand in the house of a friend, when
numerous other people were coming and going.
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