Nightfall - a new composition by Steven Watson

I hope you can give this a listen all the way through, as it's a beautiful and interesting new composition for the banjo.

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Comment by Jody Stecher on April 17, 2023 at 21:19

The Farland pick would seem to limit the player to only one timbre as the pick cannot  strike the strings anywhere but close to the bridge. 

Comment by Rob MacKillop on April 17, 2023 at 21:27

What makes you say that, Jody?

Comment by Jody Stecher on April 17, 2023 at 21:29

By the way I have seen a similar thing on the rabab of Afghanistan. It is a banjo of sorts as the sound "board" is an animal hide. The bridge has a hole bored in the treble side. A narrow band of rawhide or fabric is passed through it and the other end passes through a similar hole in a bone plectrum. Again it limits the range of movement but rabab is always played near the bridge even without this device.

Comment by Richard William Ineson on April 18, 2023 at 7:49

Music is in the ear of the listener, I remember H.J.Sherring (ancient B.M.G. contributor) relating the following incident, Sherring had gone to see Mays and Hunter at the Alhambra, Leicester Square c1896, (in those days it was customary for the house lights to remain up during performances in theatres) Sherring was sat next to a man and his wife, the man was reading a newspaper, Hunter was, meanwhile, playing the Finale to the 'Willam Tell' overture on the stage. The man turned to his wife and said, "What on earth is this racket?"  his wife explained that Hunter's performance of this technically demanding piece was the talk of London, the man said "It sounds like someone running a stick down some railings". Oscar Wilde also attended a similar performance and his companion on the night said, "I understand that the banjo is a very difficult instrument to play", Wilde replied, "I wish that it was impossible". As regards 'Pop' music, I haven't paid much attention to it since the 1990s, but I was  introduced to recent developments in the genre last year. My wife and I have stayed at the same hotel for our summer holiday, for the past twenty years or so, the hotel was run by people attuned to the needs of those of advancing years and provided little or no 'background' music on their beach or in the public rooms. The ownership changed last year and the 'new broom' began sweeping, 'music' of the what I understand is termed the  'techno rap' genre was introduced, at full volume, by the 'up to the minute' new management. Any music provided  by the previous management, had been limited to Waltzes by Strauss, or piano music by Chopin, light opera, and 'pop music' from the 1950 - 1990 period etc. the new regime obviously decided that they needed customers with a more modern approach to life. I stuck it out for a couple of days before approaching the management, I told the person in charge, "There is a difference between music and racket, what is being channeled through your musical apparatus is racket and most of your customers including myself and my wife do not like it". The music was changed. Most people do not hear music in the same way that musicians do, in fact most people do not hear it at all except as a high or low pitched buzz in the background. It is good to see how Rob's adventurous performance of a new piece of banjo music has provoked so much stimulating comment.

Comment by Rob MacKillop on April 18, 2023 at 8:50

Sure, there are lots of stories in a similar vein, riots at Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring, etc. And someone will inevitably bring up the Emperor’s Clothes, thinking they are being witty. If I don’t like something I’m hearing, I’ll either leave or wait until something comes along that I will like. I feel no need to start yelling at the effrontery of being subjected to such bilge, and ridicule those who like it. I can’t tell you how tiresome a lot of music is to me, so I just do what I like. To me there is a clear correlation between Nightfall and A Fireside Idyll or La Caresse. 

Comment by Richard William Ineson on April 18, 2023 at 10:31

I agree about 'Nightfall' and ' La Caresse' etc. Cammeyer himself, said to Sheaff, when they were rehearsing the 'Cornish Dance No.1', "Of course we're going right over their heads (meaning his concert audience) this time."  I've just bought the now, widely acclaimed, 'Four Altos'  LP (long playing record) which was recorded in 1957, the year my Dad died; when it first emerged, the record, which contains tunes such as 'Kinda Kanonic' and 'Pedal Eyes' provoked  a lot of comment, which is what has happened with your recording of 'Nightfall'. I think that this is a good thing. My Dad (B.1897) knew a bit about music having played the Cornet a la Bix Biederbeck in the 20s/30s , he once said to me, "There are three kinds of jazz, hot jazz like Louis Armstrong, cool jazz like Stan Getz, and 'what time does the tune start?' 

Comment by Rob MacKillop on April 18, 2023 at 14:14

I don't think this forum is about to be inundated with atonal compositions...Normal Service will be resumed very soon. 

Comment by Richard William Ineson on April 19, 2023 at 0:24

"Mighty oaks from little acorns grow".

Comment by Rob MacKillop on April 19, 2023 at 5:38

That would be nice! Atonality will ‘conker’ the world!

Comment by Richard William Ineson on April 19, 2023 at 6:40

I've always been a supporter of, and believer in atonality, It's a bit like Humpty Dumpty in Alice in Wonderland, 'When I play a note it can be any note I choose it to be'. When I play the banjo I aim to get four notes out of ten right, some people aren't as fussy as me. Don't waste your life pining for perfection.

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