Day 1: A listening plan

Because pre-today I had no brain due to being entirely caught up with my parents’ visit from Australia, I kind of left my Creative Pact project raaaather open. I’ve had a few ideas of what to work on but honestly just haven’t had the time to pin down what it will be. One thing I do know though is that I REALLY need to get back to listening to a wide range of stuff. I’ve hardly listened to anything other than driving music in the past month (driving tour of the Cotswolds), and before that there was only driving music (driving around Dartmoor), Crossing Dartmoor and the pieces for the Bastard Assignments3 performance at Tête à Tête that I was performing in. So it’s been a while.

As I’ve recently had to reinstall my phone’s OS due to it deciding that when I call people they’re not allowed to hear what I’m saying, I had a blank canvas there to work with so this morning I spent some time perusing my music collection and thinking about what I might want to listen to. So, newly refreshed phone in paw, I’ve decided that I’ll start by listening to as much as humanly possible from the following particular categories:

  1. Stuff I’ve had for ages but have never really listened to properly, e.g. Birtwistle’s Gawain which I have a signed copy of (thank you, NMC!), Ives string quartet music (no clue where that album came from – possibly something irrelevant sent to the Australian Music Centre when I worked there??) and Christopher Rouse & Tan Dun guitar concerti
  2. Old favourites that I haven’t listened to in years, e.g. Reich’s Desert Music, Maya Beiser’s recording of David Lang’s World to Come, and Nino Rota’s soundtrack to La Dolce Vita

Of course, I’ve also loaded up the stuff that I listen to regularly and can’t currently live without, including Phil Maguire’s smll hnd / dctfl hnd (now available as a free download! Go and grab it!), The Cat Empire’s So Many Nights and Nico Muhly’s Speaks Volumes.

I have a vague yet ambitious plan to go for quantity in my listening this month and to update my iPod about once a week… or maybe once every 10 days. We’ll see how that goes…

For clarity’s sake, I do have some other stuff on the go this month that is likely to affect the directions I take with this project. In particular, I am preparing to teach a new class at CityLit this month: Satie: A musical iconoclast at 150. It’s going to be fun. If you’re in London and have some time on a few Sunday afternoons, come along! This will of course mean I’m going to do a lot of Satie (re-)listening, but also probably a fair amount of late nineteenth century repertoire and some 1960s Cage & co. I’m also preparing a guitar version of Crossing Dartmoor for Bastard Assignments’ first Fresh & Clean series gig, which is likely to see me seeking out interesting guitar music. If you have any suggestions, please leave them in the comments.

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