A Night on Bare Mountain


Posted by upbeat | Posted in Collaboration, Creativity, New Music, New Music Compositions | Posted on October 2, 2014

With the BBC’s Ten Pieces project about to kick off on Monday I’ve been motivated to come back to a piece I first shared with kids in my first teaching post in Glasgow in 1978. Mussorgsky’s ‘Night on Bare Mountain’ is deservedly part of the ‘Ten Pieces’ that kids will enjoy. Locally, we’ve got hundreds of kids from around 10 schools attending the Odeon in Dumfries for the BBC ‘Ten Pieces’ film. I hope Mussorgsky will forgive me for this digital arrangement of his music, I’ve certainly had fun putting it together!


Mood Indigo


Posted by upbeat | Posted in Collaboration, Creativity, New Music, New Music Compositions | Posted on September 28, 2014

Collaboration on a piece of work is for me, always going to result in something much better than if the work is done in splendid isolation. That’s the case for almost any task.

I composed a piece of music initially with the title ‘Scotland Decides’. I’ve shared this music with a few folks and been encouraged by the response. John Maxwell Geddes and Eddie McGuire, both Scottish composers of great note (unintended pun, sorry!) have given me very positive feedback. Legendary record producer of ‘Tubular Bells’ Tom Newman has given me very specific suggested changes which I’ve already taken on board. And Emerson Lake & Palmer sleeve artist and designer William Neal has asked if this piece be linked directly with an art work he’s been working on entitled ‘Mood Indigo’. I’m so delighted these folks have given me such generous, helpful feedback which can only enhance my work. Thanks guys, here’s the piece now called ‘Mood Indigo’.

Scotland Decides


Posted by upbeat | Posted in Creativity, New Music, New Music Compositions | Posted on September 17, 2014

One day to go as we lead up to the Scottish Referendum. Don’t ask me why, but I decided last night to write a piece of music for piano which I’ve unimaginatively entitled ‘Scotland Decides’. I’m not saying which way I’ll be voting, just that I will be. It will be probably be a very narrow contest, with delighted and disappointed voters almost in equal measure. Whatever the outcome, let’s move forward carefully considering the feelings of all.

Here’s my piece ‘Scotland Decides’

John Maxwell Geddes in Dumfries & Galloway Schools


Posted by upbeat | Posted in Collaboration, Creativity, Curriculum for Excellence, Learning & Teaching, New Music, New Music Compositions | Posted on February 26, 2013

John Maxwell Geddes is one of Scotland’s leading composers. In addition to composing, he has lectured at many universities throughout Europe, the United States, and Russia, and has held various conducting posts, including that of principal guest conductor of the Dumfries and Galloway Regional Orchestra. John studied at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music, and following his graduation, worked as a school teacher until winning a scholarship that enabled him to study in Copenhagen with Niels Viggo Bentszon.
 John has had a long association with Dumfries & Galloway and we’re delighted to have such a distinguished composer working with us on composing projects for young people in 4 primary schools in the region. The weather this week has been cold and clear and after a busy day, John and I took a trip in the sunshine down to Kippford on the Solway coast.



Posted by upbeat | Posted in Creativity, New Music, New Music Compositions | Posted on October 2, 2012

20 years ago, when I was but a lad, I had a recording studio with a 1 Meg Macintosh (see picture!) in Newton Mearns, Glasgow. I’ve now set up a new music recording studio in a farmhouse in the Dumfries & Galloway countryside. I was inspired by the London Olympic Games (and Mr Bean) to compose an Olympic tune in memory of Eric Liddell, the great Scottish athlete, in the style of one of my musical heroes, Vangelis, so here it is.

Eric  © Upbeat Music 2012

A familiar tune in the Chinese take-away


Posted by upbeat | Posted in Creativity, New Music Compositions | Posted on March 13, 2011

Twenty years ago I remember getting a shock as I waited for my Chinese meal to be prepared in the local take-away in Market Street, St Andrew’s in Fife. The TV was playing a tune I knew really well, but for a moment, I just couldn’t think what it was. A glance at the TV screen reminded me instantly I’d actually composed and recorded it, one of several tunes I’ve been lucky enough to have had used on TV or radio. It was a surreal experience to be standing waiting in a Chinese take-away with my music playing away in the background. I don’t have an actual recording of the news theme I wrote and recorded with Wet Wet Wet programmer Ian Morrow 20 years ago in 1991, but by the miracle of the internet I’ve found a clip featuring the theme with a youthful BBC News Presenter, Jackie Bird.

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