I’ve been in and around music of all kinds since I was a child. My mother was a good pianist and my father played the violin very well by ear. I often wonder if it was the music that brought them together, it seemed to be the only time that they got on well. They argued a lot and I used to go and sit on the stairs with my hands over my ears.
The kind of music that they played would probably be called light music. They played music from the shows of the thirties, especially Ivor Novello ‘We’ll gather Lilacs’, and ‘No ,no Nanette’, songs of the day and ballet music. The first present I ever bought for my mother from my own money was the sheet music for The Sugar Plum Fairy. I have always sung and played, not very well but I have inherited a good sense of rhythm, and pitch. I am not afraid of singing anywhere, it comes naturally to me. I can play the keyboard using my knowledge of the chord positions. It’s known as fake music but it doesn’t sound bad and I enjoy it. If I have the melody line and the chord symbol, I can play just about anything. There has never been a time in my life where music hasn’t played some part
I have always drawn musicians…Ha…I thought, for this Post I could gather my musician drawings together, I had absolutely no idea of the hundreds that I have made over the years until I started to find them…there was no way I could get them all gathered together in a couple of hours. These are just a few, not necessarily the best. As with the museum drawings I’ll sprinkle a few more in later posts.
Hassan Erraji a blind musician playing the Kanun. The instrument makes a beautiful sound. His hands are so sensitive on the strings. Plucking with one hand and stopping with the other. I’m a big fan of world music.
I love rhythm of any kind and these are the Taiko drums, The great thing about the Japanese Taiko drums is that they combine music and movement together. I first saw them at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. I had gone to do a textiles course at the Edinburgh College of Art. I was staying in a student hostel close by. The rooms were cheap so there were lots of fringe participants staying there too. I used to look out of my window and see my next door room neighbours juggling and doing acrobatics, they were from China. I usually finished my course around 5pm so I was free for the rest of the evening. I spent the time going to all sorts of brilliant and way out performances in church halls, garages, indeed anywhere that provided space. I was already, all those years, ago finding it difficult to walk. When folks realised that I was a bit disabled I was treated like a queen and often ushered to the front seats, or helped in through a different door. I had such a good time but the two things that I remember were both Japanese, the Taiko drummers and dancers and a Butoh ritual dance group. They danced naked but covered in white mud, it was so elemental and beautiful, very sculptural. There are fierce critics of this type of dancing, they say that it looks as though it were being performed by zombies. I have a drawing somewhere but I can’t find it. I will add it when I do. It was also the first time that I ate sushi.This couldn’t be more different, very European, a Bach recital in a church in Prague. Wonderful to hear soaring music in a Gothic building. We were taken there by our Czech friends. When they heard we were staying in a tent they immediately invited us to stay in their flat in the middle of Prague. Four memorable events, this concert, a visit to the interesting Jewish cemetery, (all the headstones had little stones left on them, it is a tradition,) a performance by the magical Black Theatre, and a walk around all the places associated with Kafka.
Closer to home, the Charleston Chasers in the Kings Hall, complete with potted palms (not in my drawing) This is such joyous dance-able music, and so redolent of the age. They take great care recreating the exact musical style . It really is a kind of historical record. I loved the huge ridiculous instrument, I think it might be a Sousaphone.
I heard these three musicians at the Broadstairs Folk Festival. There aren’t many people that like the bagpipes, but I do. I think they were Breton. It is no mean feat to smoke a cigarette and play the banjo at the same time. How did he do it? We often camped there in the official camp on the school field. I did a very memorable song writing course there with Dave Goulder. We used to go to the jamming sessions, in the pubs I was playing on the accordion and melodeon and Ken on his flute. We used to come for a shower.
Two bass players, you must be dedicated to carry the bass round with you. You wonder if bass players started on violins, then cellos and finally on the grandaddy of them all, the mighty bass.I think this is pretty unusual a woman bass player. I remember that she looked extremely elegant and straight backed as she played.The sound of the harp is so special. The hands are interesting but difficult to draw. I never worked out what the doll was doing on the back of the chair, my guess is that it was her good luck talisman. Looking back at these drawings has brought back so many memories that I am going to have to continue with them. Time to sleep. 2.30am. Yawn!