Clameur Matthew Pollard Music

Recording Clameur

Writing this a week after the recording sessions for the CD Matt and I are putting together. We recorded the tracks in St Michael and All Angel’s church in Brighton, which was the same venue that we premiered the main piece This Concert Will Fall In Love With You in the Brighton Festival Fringe in May 2010. Matt was in love with the acoustics there, and our recording engineer Simon Scardanelli loved the sound there too, and made a point of recording the silence which for all kinds of philosophical reasons I loved. I remember when we first performed the piece marvelling at how the sound from Adam’s vibraphone being bowed hung in the air for seconds, like a giant wineglass being rung with a wet finger.

Musicians were Cem Muhurram, on violin, Glem Capra on piano, Tom Norrell on marimba, and Adam Bushell on vibraphone (and marimba on Clameur track). I noticed that Adam had brought a patch of carpet to stand on. Matt and I had socked feet to prevent floor squeaks. This could not prevent the odd car going past or, this being Brighton, the yarps of stray seagulls.

The recording went smoothly, and the playing was splendid on This Concert. We doubled back at took various takes, but this was very different to how I’d read about how rock bands record. As everyone knew what we were peforming and knew our pieces we sailed through it. The choir, present in the last few variations, were sounding confident too. I had naturally been rather anxious about my own part, but I was pleased with how my performance went. Simon gave me some kind of vintage microphone which made my voice sound better, and I had a slight sore throat too, which may have worked in my favour. However we’ll have to hear what we have when Matt and I start the editing process with Simon in a couple of weeks.

The two choral pieces Found, and Clameur were then recorded, while I ran through Minotaur with Glen. This was literally a last minute piece, Matt had finished the score for the morning of the rehearsal, after we’d talked about it a couple of weeks ago. By 9:00pm everyone was a bit shattered, and all of us were all quite keen to get to the pub. Full of a slightly crazed energy, Glen and I did Minotaur in one take, which for a novice like me was exhilarating. And what we recorded was the first time the piece had ever been played right through.

Next steps are to work with Simon and start to create a definitive sound for the CD. I have also been working on designing the cover, employing some photos that were taken by the excellent Adrian Turner at our final pre-recording rehearsal.


So rehearsals for the Clameur CD continue apace. Last night I heard the song Clameur sung for the first time by a choir and it was an emotional moment. Matt’s music is brilliant, and to sit in a room in Brighton hearing a song with my words about Icart Point in Guernsey seemed a like a dream.

Matt has decided to drop Adam from these recordings and we have set ourselves the challenge of turning around another piece very quickly. This is likely to be Minotaur and will be based on an old poem of mine. Matt and I have had some interesting discussions about the relationship between the words and music. For there are some God-awful experiences of poetry combined with music. There has to be a balance between the music illustrating or commenting on the words, and creating an environment for the words. In the Minotaur piece, we are discussing the idea of being more contextual, that the music creates the maze in which the minotaur finds itself. Here is the poem.


Forehead gored by migraine;
pain has sharpened my senses.
I hear mosquitoes in the garden
there are clouds of them conspiring,
one for every promise.

You promised me this garden
somewhere private; somewhere lovely,
now it’s empty bar some black dog
whose hairs I find everywhere.
And still I sense it panting
among the sculptures, fin de siècle,
made by someone very clever.

Rose-choked, the garden walls break
over the cracked slabs. I tread petals
I make the divine slime of rose heads
the ecru of ex-white petal falls.

Or I listen to the radio
snorting with uncontrollable laughter
or I read my leisurely books
near the ornamental fishpond;
the copper-coloured fishpond;

the one I can never look in.

One of the consequences of having is a CD is that you need a label. And I am going I think to create one. This idea leads to the idea that with a label we could include other acts, which is why I find myself in exploratory talks with Richard Gibson of The Shakespeare Trio, who have embarked on a project of putting Shakespeare’s sonnets to music. I am a big fan, and theirs is another high concept project, not unlike the work Matt and I have collaborated on.

I also think good Karma is important, and I have talked to The Sussex Beacon about donating a portion of the income to them. In return they are able to give us another platform to publicise the event. My background in considering ethical partnerships between charity and a business led to this idea.

Below Matt conducting singers.

Clameur Matthew Pollard Music

It’s ‘Clameur’

So Matt and I have agreed our CD will be called Clameur. This is the title of one of the choral pieces Matt based on my poem of the same name, which appeared in A Guernsey Double. Clameur means a cry or plea, and there is an ancient legal procedure still extant in Guernsey law called Clameur de haro. But the idea of a heartfelt cry certainly fits the empassioned nature of the main piece This concert will fall in love with you too.

Matt has begun to rehearse the choir for the three choral pieces. They have already started tackling Clameur and Adam. Last night we got together with Cem Muharren (violin), Adam Bushell (vibraphone), Tom Norrell (Marimba) and Glen Capra (piano) for our first pre-recording rehearsal for the longest piece This concert will fall in love with you. I was a bit twitchy beforehand as it is a year since we performed it for three nights only. But although a bit rusty, I felt I was picked up the threads fairly well and mostly finding my cues.

As ever a humbling and fascinating process working with professional musicians. Although everyone was relaxed and cheery, nobody messed about and biffed straight into it. I find it exhilarating, and a good antidote to the often solitary life of a writer.

Pollard & Kenny CD preparations

Beginning to get things ready for the recording of our CD. Matt has been tying musicians down to rehearsal dates, which is a tricky and difficult job. I meanwhile have been reviewing the words of This Concert Will Fall in Love With You and making a few minor tweaks.

The CD will have four pieces on it “This concert…” which has a theme and 12 variations. And three choral pieces: Found, written originally for the Rainbow Chorus, which they are recording for their own CD. Our version will have different instrumentation. Then there isClameur, a setting of my poem from A Guernsey Double which Matt has turned into a fascinating two-movement piece starting with angularity and vocal representations of being on the tube train, which later resolves into gorgeousness.

The final piece started life as a choral exercise, Et in terra pax hominibus bonae voluntatis. This translates as And on earth peace, good will toward men which Matt told me is something of a standard text for choral pieces.

I am beginning to love the music which has a brooding, ambiguous quality. Listening to the soundfile gave me a strong vision of leaves for some reason. And lately I have become keen on listening to the sound of wind through trees. I have rewritten the piece, and have called it Adam, and sent it to Matt to see what the maestro makes of it. This is our first piece where the music came first, so it will be interesting to see if I can demonstrate as much sensitivity as Matt has.

We’re also thinking about a name for the CD too. This concert will fall in love with you, is rather long, This CD will fall in love with you too crassly commercial perhaps. I like Clameur, but I am still unsure.

Rehearsals start next month. I can’t wait.