Sunday 17 November 2019
Driving back into Oxfordshire this afternoon, I spotted several ‘lakes’ that I’m sure used to be fields. Fortunately, nothing encroaching on the roads I was using but a sign of how wet it has been.
It should be a drier week this week (although potential for freezing fog in the wee small hours of Tuesday morning) but it is worrying to be going into the winter with the water table already set high, as a lot of areas won’t take much to tip them into flooding.
Saturday 16 November 2019
As well as falling in with musicians and actors in Loughborough, I’ve also discovered a board gaming group (which happens to have a significant intersection with the set of members of the church worship group). Last night I went along and managed a resounding last place in Power Grid, before coming bottom in Braggart. Technically, I didn’t lose Family Business although, since it ended with everyone dead, that isn’t the strongest of boasts.
However, although winning is nice from time to time, it is a real pleasure just to take part and I will be back.
Friday 15 November 2019
Tomorrow, I’m due to visit a couple of possible rental properties in Loughborough – it will be the first time I’ve gone round as a potential tenant for a decade so should be interesting. Whether either will turn out to be suitable, I don’t know but at least it moves our plans a bit further on.
Thursday 14 November 2019
One of the songs I’m planning to use at ASTAD on Sunday is Break Every Chain (There is Power in the Name of Jesus) by Will Reagan. Lyrically, it is pretty simple – both verses are repeated lines, ending with multiple times round the phrase ‘break every chain’. Even the bridge section isn’t massively long or complex. However, the official notation (IMHO) makes it all look much more complicated.
The main subdivision is the semiquaver with a few demisemiquavers thrown in for good measure. Also, very little falls on the beat; it is mainly ties between notes, leading to complex syncopation. Quite the rhythmic exercise, in fact, and it may well be an accurate transcription of a seminal performance of the song. However, to me, it seems to be over the top. It is a simple song (yes, all FOUR chords are included…); I’m pretty sure that I could listen to several recorded versions and not find one that follows these dots.
What I’m going to give the team is a simplified version, probably with the word freely emblazoned at the top. There is a place for precise notation but, in this context, I think the written score should be designed as a launch pad rather than taking the appearance of tangled pitfalls and snares.
Wednesday 13 November 2019
Earlier this week, Jane cooked up a delicious pie with banana, pineapple, cherries and more. Jamaica? No, she wanted to…
Appalling pun out of the way, it is more or less the recipe I learned from my mum as Jamaica pie. Whether it has much to do with Jamaica or not, I don’t know – a quick online search turns up pages about meat patties rather than a dessert dish. However, there is something about the dish that creates a Caribbean mood. I think it is largely down down to the sweetness of baked banana and then layers of delight are added by the textures and flavours of the additional fruit.
I’m not sure mincemeat is a very Caribbean ingredient but we had some that needed using up. Waste not, want not… and enjoy.
Tuesday 12 November 2019
Today’s main task has been working on Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus, a classic early 20th century hymn that I’m planning to include in my worship leading debut at Thorpe Acre this week.
The main challenge with such pieces is that there isn’t one definitive version but all sorts of versions recorded by diverse artists and in a multitude of settings. I found a fairly vanilla version on CCLI’s SongSelect site and we have a licence that let me download the lead sheet but it wasn’t quite to my taste… so I’ve made corrections.
The verse begins on the major 3rd and then puts a toe down to what is notated as a sharpened second; I can’t seen any reason not to show that as a minor 3rd instead and so I’ve made that change. As an added advantage, I’m going to do it in E major and that lets me use G natural rather than F double sharp, which will be much less confusing for others following the dots. I’ve also made quite a few tweaks to the chords: a mixture of what makes sense to me based on the melody, gives some nod toward functional harmony and works well on guitar, which is what I will be leading from.
That took a little time and then a bit more to work up my version of the score with Lilypond… and then a lot more to get all the tweaks in place. However, I’m pretty pleased with it now. I’ve even got details like numbering for the start of each verse and coping with the fact that the first and third verses have an extra syllable compared to verse two (a dotted slur and the
\ignoreMelismata directive to make the lyrics on the outer verses stick to the right notes. As well as advancing my Lilypond-fu, it also gives me another example piece to build the next one.
Monday 11 November 2019
Shepherd’s pie: minced lamb with mashed potato topping. I suppose that is a logical name although I would be surprised if shepherds are often encouraged to eat their flocks.
Cottage pie: minced beef with a mashed potato topping. I guess people in cottages often eat this, but the link is even more tenuous.
So, what would you call a mash-topped pie made with a veggie filling? I blitzed onions in a food processor and set them softening, then added a blitzed mixture of mushroom, courgettes, peppers and garlic. Proper vegetarians would probably not smile kindly on the Oxo cube (nor vegans on the egg that, along with leftover ‘Mexican houmus’, enhanced the mash) but it was a pretty tasty result however it ought to be named.