In 2020 it’s been a delight to hear two songs from Cracked Voices being given a fresh airing (links below).
In Scottsdale Arizona (USA), Michael Tallino and Riley McKinch
chose ‘Earthrise’ as part of their Songs of Peace for a Wild World concert
(part of the Arts at Nativity emerging artist series) back in June.
In July, Donna Lennard (one of the performers who premiered
Cracked Voices) and Benjamin Graves also selected ‘The blessing of the
road-born child’ to be part of their first Songs and Sounds online concert, focusing
We hope you enjoy their performances as much as I have.
The Cracked Voices CD is now available. Physical and digital copies can be purchased from Bandcamp, alongside copies of Graham Palmer’s pamphlet full of tales from the borderlands, featuring the texts from the Cracked Songs pieces.
The CD is also available as mp3 downloads on Amazon Music, through iTunes, can be streamed through Spotify and more.
Thanks to everyone who has aided the creation of this CD- our performers, engineer James Waterhouse, Alpheton New Maltings recording studio, our four performers Miles Horner, Donna Lennard, Sue Pettitt and Ralph Woodward, and everyone who has supported the project along the way.
We’re pleased to announce that the Cracked Voices CD will be released at the end of January.
To get your hands on either digital or physical copies of the CD, head to Bandcamp. Further details about digital distribution to follow.
Many thanks all those who made the CD recording happen- to the four Cracked Voices performers – Miles Horner, Donna Lennard, Sue Pettitt and Ralph Woodward, to sound engineer James Waterhouse and Alpheton New Maltings recording studio. Thank you to the PRS Foundation’s Open Funding for Creators and the Arts Council’s Grants for the Arts scheme for funding the recording.
What’s next? The Cracked Voices scores will be appearing in the next couple of weeks – watch this space! At the end of October the Cracked Voices quartet will be heading into the studio to make a recording of the song cycle – to pre-order a CD please click on the link in the navigation bar.
Things may have gone quiet for a while but Jenni has been busy arranging some of the Cracked Voices pieces for choir.
The British Academy of Songwriters, Composers, and Authors (BASCA) has selected one of these songs to be put through its paces by the BBC Singers at the corporation’s Maida Vale studios next week. ‘The blessing of the road-born child’ was inspired by a local postcard from 1905 showing migrants being moved on by the police through Royston.
Composer Jenni Pinnock said, ‘Having the song workshopped by one of the world’s greatest choirs will be brilliant. It’s a challenging piece with lots of twists and turns, so it’ll be interesting to see how the BBC Singers navigate them.’
Do writers write from beginning to end, or do they create their work in bits here and there before stringing it all together? Composing wise, I definitely tend to be the latter. You have to go where the inspiration takes you. Sometimes that can be the climatic point of the piece, sometimes a snippet of melody, and sometimes the first bar. Of course, once the piece is completed (and often even before then) the re-writing begins to ensure that the piece makes sense no matter what order it was composed in.
I hadn’t finished the other pieces in the cycle when Graham had completed (or near completed) the text for Curating the Collection. Each stanza – a haiku – relates to a piece in the song cycle. I wanted to find a way to musically tie each haiku to its piece without simply re-using each art song’s melody lines.
At first I played with trying to do clever things with haiku. I looked at patterns of 5/4, 7/4 and 5/4 bars to emulate the haiku syllable pattern. I came up with a few potential ideas, but none stuck – one got closer than the others but still wasn’t completely right. I put it to one side for a while while I completed other pieces in the cycle.
One day while searching for ideas for a different project these three bars suddenly fell under my fingers:
The first three bars of the final Cracked Voices piece were born. The notes are stunningly simple with a more complex time signature: an alternating pattern of 7/8 + 4/4. The 7/8 chimes beautifully with wanting to get the figure 7 into the final song of the cycle somehow. The figure 5 came more easily. My gamelan background means I’ve always loved pentatonic scales, and from those first three bars a mostly pentatonic melody flowed quite easily.
The structure developed quite naturally also. A haiku for each song in the cycle – including one summative one – meant 12 haiku texts to set. Splitting them into groups of four provided a nice structure per section – AABA roughly – and three sections to set. The haiku were divided between soprano and baritone by who performed the original art songs, with some becoming duets. With the text linking back to each song in the cycle, the final pieces of the puzzle was how to ensure the music hinted back at each piece too. With the soprano, baritone and pianist all tied up, that left one performer to tie everything together..
Curating the collection is the final art song in the Cracked Voices song cycle, and was also the final one I wrote. It completes the cycle and reflects all the other pieces, touching on each character’s story. To hear it performed alongside the rest of the Cracked Voices song cycle join us at the second performance on Saturday 28th April at Royston Methodist Church.
Thank you to everyone who came to our premiere at Cambridge’s Anglia Ruskin University. It was a joy to be able to share Cracked Voices with you. For us it was a moving experience hearing Miles Horner, Donna Lennard, Sue Pettitt and Ralph Woodward taking the songs and making them their own (all photos are from our pre-performance rehearsal).
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