The Bassist and I went to London yesterday as I had to go and sign some more stock at Goldsboro Books where Dave was kind enough to host the fantastic launch party for Testament back in January.
We had been intending to take in the National Portrait Gallery on our way back to Victoria as the B is a pretty accomplished artist and protraiture is one of the big demands at GCSE. But, first, we had to go and do homage to some serious basses (as in electric bass guitars, in case thre is any confusion) in Denmark Street, where virtually all the shops are guitar shops and some sell nothing but basses.
We never got to the NPG, instead, in several shops, I had the quite extraordinary experience of sitting and listening to my son improvise on the kind of guitars which we couldn’t possibly afford to buy for him. Why was it extraordinary – don’t I hear him play all the time? Yes, but as he pointed out, yesterday he was able to do things which his own, rather basic (no pun intended) bass simply isn’t capable of. And it was noticeable not only that he did things I’d never heard him do before but that what he did with each guitar was different. Each different guitar brought out different elements of musicality in him.
It occurred to me, as he was playing, that although writing is a very different activity, it has something in common with this improvisation. In the same way that each instrument, with its own possibilities, conjures different musical themes and ideas from the Bassist, so different plotlines and characters draw out very different kinds of writing from me. And as his improvisations would, given time, take form as tunes and compositions, so the instinctively different voices which follow characters and plot need honing and editing until they are right.
But no honing or editing for me for a few days. I’m going down to see my parents in Wales this week. So, expect me here when you next see me - there’s no internet where I’m going…