Movies Music

On Bach,
Bill Nelson
and spiritual outlook

Published to coincide with the Bandcamp download release of Bill Nelson’s album And We Fell Into A Dream.

A year or so back I was fortunate enough to attend a fascinating discussion group at Tottenham Quakers. The brief was ‘A piece of music, writing, art or other inspiration which reflects your spiritual outlook’ – please bring something along that you are happy to talk about or just bring yourself along! So we had a small stone used as an aid to bereavement – actually the only physical object anyone brought along, everything else was one way or another mediated through various pieces or recording, translation or delivery technology – three pieces of music and one set of extracts from the Gospels, chiefly the story of the woman caught in adultery.

The latter was, for its presenter, a way of showing how spot on some of Jesus’ comments and actions were in regard to the human condition, whether or not you bought into the wider package of Christianity.

Two of the three pieces of music were sourced from movies, at least that was how those who brought them had discovered them.

Bach chamber piece ‘Double Concerto D Minor for Violins Second movement – Largo Ma Non Tanto’ from Children Of A Lesser God (Randa Haines, 1986), incidentally an adaptation of a stage play, was for its teacher character the most beautiful thing he had ever heard which he wanted to share with a student. This was an impossibility (at least, it was in the film, although some might claim that proposition not so cut and dried) since the student was deaf.

Beethoven’s ‘Eroica / Ode to Joy’ had likewise been found by watching a film, in this case A Clockwork Orange (Stanley Kubrick, 1971), incidentally adapted from a book, which film the person who’d brought the piece of music along disliked intensely so we didn’t talk about the film. They also mentioned that the piece was the anthem of the European Union which may have added to their love of the piece which, as they said, was an incredible build up expressing…well, joy.

And We Fell Into A Dream. The third piece was a five minute recording in which experimental electric guitarist Bill Nelson played along to a specially created backing track, one of some similar fifteen pieces for his 2007 album And We Fell Into A Dream. The piece in question ‘The Raindrop Collector’ which lasts just over five minutes opens with guitar harmonics followed by simple piano rhythms, builds very slowly into something and then dissolves. The title speaks of the impossibility of retaining certain items of value in any sort of permanent state and the overall impermanence of things.

People enquired as to where to get hold of this album, so I directed them towards Nelson’s Bandcamp page. It turned out, however, that the CD was out of print. Today, after a long wait, the album has finally been made available to buy as a Bandcamp download.

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