From a young age I was always fascinated by a road sign pointing to two villages not that far from where I grew up. The two villages - indicated from the main road now by the more modern sign pictured on the front of this album - were 'Yelling' and 'Graveley'. I would look at the sign as we passed by in the family car, and try, always unsuccessfully, to imagine yelling gravely. Speaking gravely . . . announcing gravely . . . intoning gravely . . . these were all possible; yelling loudly . . . yelling angrily . . . yelling frantically . . . anyone can do that. But yelling gravely? What an impossible combination!
Some time later, I found myself studying Syntactic Structures by Noam Chomsky, a seminal text in the science of Linguistics, in which my attention was drawn to the following meaningless sentence: 'Colorless green ideas sleep furiously'. Sleeping furiously, I thought to myself - that's about as impossible as yelling gravely!
Contrary to popular opinion, Professor Chomsky didn't invent this now famous sentence merely to be meaningless, but meaningless it is - on the basis that, under normal circumstances, things cannot be green and at the same time colourless; ideas cannot have any colour, and cannot sleep; and sleeping is not an activity that can be done furiously. The only way in which the sentence can be understood is by interpreting it as metaphorical: 'green' is naive, 'colorless' is bland, 'sleeping' is waiting to be revived, etc.
But that wasn't Chomsky's point - as you will know if you have been lucky enough to read Syntactic Structures for yourself. My point, on the other hand, is only that I was more than delighted by the revelation that this great and important academic had written about my yelling gravely problem, and inspired to write a poem about it. This poem, such as it is, is featured in Part 3 of the work contained on this disc.
Yelling Graveley, according my concept for the album, is a stately home in the country, which is taken over one weekend by a group of professional and amateur musicians in order to record some classical chamber music. The music is based on The Maypole Song, which first appeared on the album The Birds & The Bees (2005) and later, in strange electronic incarnations, as Practice Makes Perfect and Opposite Pole on Walking with Bees (2006). Somehow, here, the house and gardens seem to exert an influence on the music and infiltrate the recordings in various places.
The work is divided into 6 parts of about 20 minutes duration each. Common to each part (except Part 5, which I'll come on to in a moment) is an introduction, a quite long piano variation and variations for a small woodwind ensemble; the ensemble being joined at different times by other instruments - oboe, trumpets, cello, etc.
Thanks are due to the principal soloists and chorus of the Midland Symphony Orchestra and their conductor/director Jeremy, who also plays the piano parts; the children of the Midland Symphony Primary School Music Project; the Friends of the Midland Symphony Kazoo Ensemble; and the Midland Sinfonia string quartet, all of whom feature on this recording. Regular followers of Fortspring releases will be delighted at the return of the Accordion Man, who turned up at the house unannounced and gave an impromptu recital, subsequently included in Part 2. Bruce and Victoria read the poem in Part 3. Several of the parts have benefited from the skills of the Fortspring Electronic Studios.
Part 5 is rather different in style. The Electric Jazz Band requested to be included, and offered to let me play guitar - so how could I refuse? The live section was recorded late one night when the other musicians had gone to bed. Only the oboe player stayed up into the small hours and contributed a welcome short solo, which remains in the final edit.
1. Good Morning [23:47]
2. The Garden Is Lovely This Time Of Year [20.40]
3. The Distant Sound of Roaring Dogs [20.21]
4. Can I Do It Without The Click Track? [22.04]
5. Windsong (Through A Gentle Hurricane) [25.40]
6. The Tightly Worms [21.40]
Released simultaneously is Yelling Elements [FORG11], an album in the GENRE series using material recorded during the preparation of Yelling Graveley. This contains 4 'ambient' tracks, Fire, Earth, Water and Air.
An 8CD 'Virtual Boxset' of Yelling Graveley and related music is available on YouTube, beginning here
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