Toward the end of the year there is ritual war in my mythology.  On All Saints’ Eve the gates to the Other World are opened.  The tricksters are allowed to walk the earth.  Their time is limited.  The Octoberists are matched by the Novemberists.  The Novemberists are limited nowadays, still they remain an anarchic force of fire, light and booming noise.  The bonfires die and the gates close for another year.  Summer is allowed to take its place.

In the middle of this a time for experimental music should be an oasis for peace in my imaginary war.  I was given notice of the date a week before.  The musician, Alan Starrat, is on the cleaning staff at the Castle.  It was the same night as Forum for Youth Justice which I’ve already reported.  I stopped at my flat with barely enough time to make tea and go down from Manono House to St Paul’s Cathedral.  I arrived a few minutes before the concert.  I made sure to take notes:

‘Glass Harmonica’  Alistair Galbraith

The first appearance in the evening of The Note, in this case a bell-like sound in an alien soundscape.  The instrument was worth an inspection after the concert: a row of glass bowls lined along a central crank-shaft.  Most of them looked cut from giant light-bulbs, the smallest from a wine-glass.

‘The Ladder Is Part Of The Pit’

The programme didn’t list the performers.  Violin and cello sounding like electronic, accompanied with voices that seemed to me inspired by Björk and early John Taverner.  The sound swirled above our heads.  I wonder what an experimental choir that captured that sound would be like?

‘Jumping and Floating’ by Alan Starrat, performed by Andrew and Alan Starrat

Two violins, starting with plucked notes.  It started with a festive sound then became meditative.

‘Untitled’ for Kempul, Bonang and Cathedral by Kerian Varaine and Matt Gillies

Now that is a sound to fill a cathedral, the big sounds of gamelan instruments.  Imagine that sound in a Sunday morning service!  In the cathredal’s evening gloom the musicians were obscured by their instruments as if the gongs were playing themselves.

‘Meditation över en Britisk psalmton’ by George Chittenden

We listened to the cathedral’s pipe organ warming up to the moment of clarity.

‘Improvisation’ by Tutti

All the musicians gathered in the sanctuary for a bit of improv.  I think the low rumble was the pipe organ.  It could have been the gamelan.  From the back of the nave, a child’s laughter made its own contribution to the musical interpretation.  I heard bird song, strings, and the pealing bells.  What instrument provided which sounds, between the organ, the glass harmonica, the cello and three violins.  Yet again there was the Note.

It was is if the note were a living substance, and subject to the law of chemical changes — that is to say, as that law works in dreams

Hope Mirrlees.

That was fun.  I await announcements of future occasions.

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