The Creative Process
Writing came as a surprise to me! I left school at 15, after not much academic success. But I loved words and found myself writing about things without really thinking about it. One evening in 1989, I was sitting alone in the lounge feeling a bit bored, when suddenly some strange creatures dropped into my head. My imagination ran wild and before too long I had written about Cosywags, Clawhammers, Stringfods, Flutterbodies, Slickwingers, the Jellybot and the evil Megagrit! Thus, “The Theft Of The Purple Plug” was born and subsequently published by Kingsway Publications in 1990. Now, in 2016, I have re-written “The Plug”, and added the final 2 books in the Rainchild Trilogy – published Easter 2016. “Closing The Gap”, my first book, was published by Kingsway way back in 1988! Since then I have written a number of books, mostly available as digital downloads and some on Kindle too. I have been able to express some very personal experiences through my poetry books, “Spilling The Beans” and “A Stone’s Throw.”
02 SONG WRITING
For me, song writing is all about creating visual images with words. I want to capture the imagination of the listener, and draw them into a musical journeythat creates a meaningful story line with a central focus that embraces a core message. I write best when I begin with a picture or a newspaper headline that I can unpack in a meaningful way, so that as the song story unfolds, I take the listener with me to the conclusion. My songs will include all the usual elements of the ‘hook line’ and will be structured around verses, chorus and middle eight, but I always strive to sidestep the predictable, and create something refreshing. I love the process and get a lot of satisfaction when I record something new. Peter Gabriel and Sting are my song writing heroes. I think a lot of their song writing was quite prophetic. This is what I strive for in my music – to create a prophetic statement that will “punch holes in the darkness!”
I come from a family of artists. My father kept it quiet! But he was a talented artist and when he could be motivated, he would produce some stunning pieces of art. My brother was an Artistic Director of a design company in London and produced a lot of work of his own that was inspired by the things he saw and did. Expressing my own creativity through writing, music and photography, I have found I am able to put these skills to work in the area of graphic design. So over the years have produced promotional material, websites, flyers, posters and leaflets that have been used in a wide variety of contexts, from commercial business uses to church and charity based organisations.
I don’t have any technical skills or know-how when it comes to photography. But I have an eye for a great picture and love experimenting with my faithful Canon EOS camera in a variety of settings. I have met photographers who are highly knowledgeable about the technicalities, but have no heart for the end result. For me it’s all about a heart instinct for what makes a great image, well composed and presented – an image that tells a story and touches the emotions. Visual communication touches the emotions and often speaks far more profoundly than thousands of words can express. I have drawn a lot of inspiration from times spent on the North Cornish coast, one of our favourite places to visit.
05 SONG ARRANGING
My involvement with Community Choirs UK has enabled me to get much more involved with song arranging and it's been a stimulating process. Taking pop, rock, gospel and soul music and creating arrangements that are specifically for community choirs has been and continues to be a great experience. I decide first of all, what songs would be suitable for the choirs, and then, using my laptop recording studio - in my case I use Adobe Audition - I record the songs and the arrangements, singing each part one by one on different tracks. At the moment I focus on soprano, alto and tenor parts and sometimes these can be inter-changeable in terms of which vocal group will take the lead melody line. So everyone gets a chance to extend their musical vocabulary. I teach the harmonies at rehearsals using my "sing and repeat" method, which I have found works best for the mix of people who come along to the choirs. Once I have recorded all the parts - and they are original arrangements - I then turn this into a video using Camtasia as a screen capture and video processing tool. These are made available to choir members as rehearsal videos. All good fun!
06 COMMUNITY CHOIRS
After watching a creative arrangement of “Guide Me O Thou Great Jehovah” performed by a welsh choir using lighting effects and pyrotechnics, I had a dream that same night and woke up singing the hymn, much to the surprise of my wife, Sarah! The next day I felt “called” to start a community choir. So after a leaflet drop in the local area, 20 people came to the first rehearsal but within 18 months, we had a choir of 200 people meeting every week in an old chapel. Now I run Community Choirs UK with a number of choirs which meet in West Sussex(UK) run by choir director, Emma Eberhardt and two choirs meeting in Buckinghamshire, which I lead.
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