My music – the melody that keeps coming back…

I’ve recently invested in an iPad mini and I’ve been having fun with the music making tools that are available on iOS. When playing around with a sequencing/sampling/synth app called Nano Studio I found myself returning to a melody that started life as the middle movement of a string quartet I wrote at University. The string quartet movement itself is quite a sombre affair (there are shades of Barber’s Adagio for Strings in there) and the recording I made of it had added poignancy as the first violin had recently lost her father. In the year following University I was back in Oxford sharing a house with my friend Chris from Uni (he’d got a job (that we’d both applied for) at a local studio technology company) and one of his colleagues. During this time Chris and I worked on a few musical projects together and one of them is this re-imagined version of the string quartet theme. One of the biggest records of that summer had been Children by Robert Miles and the sound of that record is definitely part of genetic makeup of this track. We actually recorded this at the demo studio of the company Chris worked for – I can’t remember if we lugged my PC in (I think it would have been running Windows 3.1 with the Cakewalk sequencer software) or if we MIDI dumped everything to a floppy based MIDI recorder I had. Either way we multi-tracked the parts onto tape so we had more flexibility with the studio’s setup of effects, compressors and EQ. Sadly I never got a proper ‘master’ on DAT – this was copied from cassette – but listening to it now I’m surprised at how well it stands up. It does sound unmistakably mid-90s, but the arrangement is great and the key change (which was the cause of much debate) still makes me smile.

Sadly I lost touch with Chris (and indeed all the folk I knew at Uni) after I moved out of the house share and bought my first flat. Last time I looked him up he was still working for the same company, based out in China, so he seems to be doing OK. One thing that looking back on this track does remind me is that I work best in collaboration. This track is 15 years old now and is probably the high point of quite a creative time…

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