The theatre last night was called The Unicorn, run by a group of magical volunteers and I found myself asking ….Who booked this tour! A wizard?! Max and I feel so lucky to be experiencing yet another great listening room, a theatre built within a building that has been standing for over 900 years.
Such an enchanting spot steeped in history, and we both comment that it’ll make an interesting place to do our ‘new thing’ – improvised songwriting, or ‘freewriting’ live on stage. Max plays, I listen, look at the audience, then write words…I take the mic and we perform together…this time a story/dream appeared about a Rose Garden…. it was the Rose Garden in Doué la Fontaine, near the Loire and one of my mother’s favorite spots – so wonderful to be transported back there – direct from Music At The Unicorn’s stage.
I guess live music is always a two-way process, an exchange between the audience and performers, a collaboration as we share energy in the room – but this live writing exercise takes this to the next level, feels liberating and is simply so much fun!
Max possesses such fluency on his instrument, a skill developed through years of practice and exposure to a variety of musical influences. When he introduces his improv pieces he often compares this musical fluency to one we can all relate to – the art of conversation. As babies we listen, repeat, we’re immersed in language, we go on to read, study, travel and talk and all of these experiences help us to find our own voice.
The performance itself felt good – we are growing into this set and feeling more comfortable with the songs now. With the synth, piano, guitar and voice I have four instruments on stage, five if you throw in the speech samples and field recordings from the SPD sample pad. So you could say there’s a quite a lot for my tiny brain to remember…But i’m looking at it in another way – i have lots of options! Every song is a little different every night on this tour, the dynamic peaks and troughs change, the arrangements alter – depending on how we are feeling, the energy in the room and the way we are communicating with one another and the audience.
There’s one song I’ve been struggling with the timing of one phrase – Bury One’s Head – the structure of the topline is so free, and the timing of what I am singing changes in different parts of the song, going against the rhythm of the syncopated synth line. We rehearsed this in the green room, of course our instruments were all on stage so it was a playful sort of table-top- tapping, verbalisation-making rehearsal! but it helped to fix that line in my brain. I like doing small simple things on repeat, it feels like a healthy practice – and it flows tonight.
After the show, a lady approaches me and tells me its clear how much I love my son. She has a warm spirit and seems to know the depth of things. A guy is inquisitive about my pedal board and another is a guitar collector. It’s fun to meet like minded folks and talk.
Another audience member remarks that our project is ‘bringing classical music into the digital age’. I respond that I feel like margins are so small between genres and it’s interesting to play around with these lines – after all, it’s all just music isn’t it?
ALL DATES dan-whitehouse.com/live