The Theotrio spent a very pleasant evening’s rehearsal this week working through some new material that we intend to debut at this year’s Helstock – the annual gathering convened in order to celebrate each passing year of The Fragrant and Charming La Mulley, at which we gather solemnly together to drink delicious Brewers Gold, play music at each other, and occasionally ceremonially throw a donkey from the toppermost of a nearby mediaeval fastness.
As we played the things over we tweaked and smoothed bits and bobs as they stood out - a verse here, a bridge there, a stray passing chord thither – using the vernacular of the musician who’s done a lot of listening and is keen to conform to the accepted scruples and standards of the form. “Make it a bit Crosby* here”, “I’m going to do the descending Gregson at the start” and “It’s like ‘Forever’ all over again” were all shorthand phrases employed in the interests of brevity of clarification. You’d probably wait for a very long time for this particular congregation to produce our Trout Mask Replica, and we’d need to borrow an awfully large number of typewriters beforehand.
At one point I suggested that we counterpoint a middle eight with what we refer to as 'A Mike Mills BV' – that is, while Helen was singing the main melody, Mr Wendell and I would entertain a counterpoint theme involving some different words behind it. He then suggested that we do it as a round (think Freres Jacques or London’s Burning**) rather than in unison, and so the creative process tumbled on.
We found and filleted a handy phrase from elsewhere in the song and ran through it a couple of times to see how it sat. Helen looked unhappy.
“While I’m singing a line that ends with '…face', you can’t be singing '…knows'”.
“Why not?” I asked.
"Isn't it obvious?" she replied.