Robert Louis Stevenson's collection of poetry, set to music.
For Mothers everywhere, especially my own.
Sure seems like a lot of my friends are having kids these days. Often not longer after, their own parents die. Funny how, after tens of thousands of years, we still haven't figured out how to process this.
I don't often enjoy the company of children. I had a very good childhood - full of warmth and joy and the best one could expect - but I believe I spent much of it preoccupied with wanting to become an adult. Now I tend toward the opposite direction.
I was very lucky in that my parents were loving and encouraging, that they could and did introduce me to much art and literature (including this book), and that I could spend a few years as a child in the country, riding a bicycle down gravel roads surrounded by pasture and hills. My adult years have grown happier as I have returned to more pastoral settings.
While not envisioned as a piece of music specifically for small children, I was cognizant of the possibility that they might want to listen to it. This raised concerns over the general tone of the piece, as much of my solo output has been, at times (and not always intentionally), challenging, or even disconcerting.
Vocally I found new characters to inhabit, taking inspiration from the sprechstimme of John Prine, the lightness of Thom Yorke; sometimes casting myself as the illegitimate gay son of Mary Poppins and Bert the Chimney Sweep!
Also, whenever things felt a bit too heavy or creepy, I threw in a bassoon or an oboe. Bassoons and oboes can get formidable only to a point, beyond which they take on qualities of the finer sorts of waterfowl.
For any Children who should read this:
The words are full of lovely things, but the man who wrote them is very wrong to speak about foreign people the way he sometimes does. He uses names for non-European people which are now considered rude, and he insults their food and way of life. Were he alive today, I suspect he would've been wiser, like you and me.
A Note on Formatting:
While this material will fit on two 80-minute CD's, I'd like to suggest distributing it across three. Tracks 1-45 encompass A Child's Garden of Verses proper, with a nice place to breathe between tracks 23 and 24. The Child Alone (tracks 46-54), Garden Days (tracks 55-62), and Envoys (tracks 63-68) fit nicely on a third disc. To whit:
- Disc One: tracks 1-23 (44:01)
- Disc Two: tracks 24-45 (44:28)
- Disc Three: tracks 46-68 (61:37)
Equipment / Instruments Employed:
hardware: Desktop w/ Focusrite Saffire Pro40, Netbook w/ ART Dual USB, AT 3035 and SM58 microphones
software: (all free / open source) KXStudio on Ubuntu 12.04, Ardour 2.x, LinuxSampler, Hydrogen, IR, LV2 & LADSPA plugins by Steve Harris, Pere Rafols Soler, David Yeh, Tim Goetze, and Invada
samples/synthesizers: Sonatina Orchestra, random GIGs/SFZs, Aeolus
guitars: 1930's B&J parlour-size acoustic, 1950's Kaykraft archtop acoustic, 1995 Korean Ibanez GR520OS electric, Peavey T-20 electric bass
accordion: Todeschini 100-button piano model
percussion: cheap snare and tambourine
electronica: PAIA 9505 Theremin