New work: The blue terrace of an impossible palace.

I had been been commissioned to contribute a soundscape for the book of disquiet project, which is going to be an audio book- with different composers/ sound artists contributing soundscapes to be played behind the narration. obviously this has to be discreet, subtle, quiet as to not interfere with the spoken word. I was given the following words to interpret:

I have always been an ironic dreamer, unfaithful to promises I made to myself. I’ve always savoured the shipwreck of my daydreams as if I were someone else, a stranger, as if I were a chance participant in what I thought I was. I never gave much credence to any of my beliefs. I filled my hands with sand and called it gold then let it all slip away through my fingers. The sentence was the only truth. Once the sentence was formed everything was done; the rest was the sand it always had been.
Were it not for the fact that I am always dreaming and live in a state of perpetual foreignness to my own self, I could happily call myself a realist, that is, an individual for whom the external world is an independent nation. However, I prefer not to label myself but to be obscurely who I am and to enjoy the piquancy of being unpredictable even to myself.
I have a kind of duty always to dream, for, since I am nothing more, nor desirous of being anything more, than a spectator of myself, I must put on the best show I can. So I deck myself in gold and silks and place myself in imaginary rooms on a false stage with ancient scenery, a dream created beneath the play of soft lights, to the sound of invisible music.
Like the recollection of a sweet kiss, I treasure the childhood memory of a theatre in which the blue, lunar scenery represented the terrace of an impossible palace. Painted round it was a vast park and I put my whole heart into living all that as if it were real. The music that played quietly on that imaginary occasion in my experience of life lent the gratuitous scene a feverish reality.
The scenery was definitely blue and lunar. I don’t remember who appeared on the stage but the play I choose to set in that remembered landscape comes to me in lines from Verlaine and Pessanha; it’s not the play, now long forgotten, that was acted out on the real stage beyond that reality of blue music. It’s my own play, a vast, fluid, lunar masquerade, an interlude in silver and fading blue.
Then life intervened. That night they took me to have supper at the Leao. On the palate of my nostalgia I can still remember the taste of the steaks – steaks, I know or imagine, the like of which no one cooks today and the like of which I never eat. And all those things mingle in me – my childhood, lived somewhere in the distance, that night’s delicious meal, the lunar scenery, the future Verlaine and the present me – in a diffuse refraction, in a false space between what I was and what I am.

Im not a literary man; I’m numbers, shapes, proportions, reasons etc. Im not a touchy-feely type at all, and definitely not a romantic- but I know instinctively when something, whatever, feels right or wrong. So at first I found the text dense, opaque, couldn’t understand it, yet it did suggest many things to me, and I felt constantly drawn to read and re-read it (to the extent Ive now ordered the book). Every time I re-read it, I got a new piece- at one point I was going to have a romantic piano waltz in there, but of course, wouldn’t work- tried it, and yes, didn’t work. Finally what stayed in my mind was this huge palace in these grounds, being inside it, hearing the huge reverbs of just ordinary things moving around etc and a very haunting, disquieting drone, bittersweet. Finally the music and the synth sounds came (this was my first serious use of Max for Live in Ableton Live 8.2.8, and I’m very pleased with it, my PD synths transferred with some mods, and the sound qualtiy is excellent) but I wanted these big reverbs that I recall often hearing in large baroque, palladian houses, where so much as a fly burping has an effect). I drew up a shortlist of places, most were still closed before Easter; at one point I posted a version using the sounds of the Colchester underground car park, (some bits still remain), but finally this Saturday 10th March, I was in London so I visited the Queens house in Greenwich and the obvious choice of the Greenwhich foot tunnel. I mixed and mastered it this morning, at this version to me, is the most satisfying. Some bits of Colchester Car Park remain, but its mostly the tunnel and the Queens house.


About stuartrussellcomposer

Composer/ sound artist. Electronic musician. Modern classical composer
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