Gavin Greenaway is a major figure in the world of film music, serving as music director, conductor, additional composer, additional arranger, additional orchestrator etc. I do recommend that readers visit the Wikipedia page devoted to Gavin to see for themselves how intensely busy he is. There is a very full, very impressive schedule of films (and TV programmes) for which he has contributed music, from 1992 to the present day. Take the year 2016, for example. He contributed to: Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice, Captain America: Civil War, Spark, The Angry Birds Movie, Jason Bourne, Brimstone, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, and A Cure for Wellness.
His new album of his own compositions, Woven, is Gavin’s through and through, for, in addition to composing and performing the music, he recorded, edited and mixed the material. Much is experimental, all is graceful and approachable. Woven’s album cover art is slightly enigmatic. It could suggest two figures –male and female facing each other, yet also intertwined. The titles of the tracks suggest a developing relationship. Greenaway writes, ‘For me it’s a story of life and love. But the titles, I hope suggestive rather than explicit, invite the listener to find their own personal connection between the words and music’. My own personal connections are given below as an attempt to describe the character and drama of the music
The programme begins pensively, the atmosphere somewhat liturgical, prayer-like and hopeful. ‘The sun rose’ suggests the dawning of a bright summer day, the atmosphere is bright and joyful. The piano figures are supplemented with discrete synth-over-and underlays
(see Note). ‘And then I saw you’ opens out the narrative. Shimmering harmonics suggest a haze over a desert; one might imagine a figure wandering despairingly (?) alone. Then hope and recognition of a kindred spirit allow the atmosphere to clear and warm, allowing feelings of tenderness and anticipated romance to break through (although some jarring bass figures suggest a note of foreboding (lest this hope of bliss might simply be a mirage?) ‘A conversation’ is music subtly in canon. It’s animated as the figures probe each other’s history and feelings and aspirations – the male more assertive, the female more hesitant and cautious. ‘We danced for seven’ is an overt, merry, syncopated and seemingly extemporised jazz episode while the final episode in part one, ‘Autumn came too soon’, reflects the female’s caution somewhat – reflective and questioning – an unsure, melancholic waltz.
Woven’s second part opens with a brief descriptive episode, ‘the fall’. Falling melancholic cadences suggest falling leaves and overcast skies. ‘Adrift’ might suggest a dual state – physical separation and bewilderment and fear about the future of the relationship (?). The atmosphere passes from coolness to warmth and tenderness. ‘The melting’, third episode, is softly lyrical, with quiet jazz syncopations, a lovely, lilting creation. ‘Singing old Songs’ suggests folk music echoing across the years. Bell-like figures chime in counterpoint. This is a fascinating, magical track, imaginative, poetic with a warm, nostalgic feeling. It is worth the price of the album alone. ‘We travelled far’ could be interpreted as the evolution of the romance as well as having a literal meaning, for the piano figures at one point suggest Chinoiserie, hinting at a Far Eastern atmosphere. One might infer that, as well as recollections, the couple might also be evaluating and testing future ‘waters’. Again, the piano and discrete synths blend nicely. Finally ‘Goodnight my love’ is a peaceful and tender farewell.
Note from the composer There are no synths on the album
(though I can understand why you might think that). Every sound you hear is
made on and by my upright piano. For instance, I use foam earplugs to make
a sound like a synth lute. I am attaching a link to an Instagram post
demonstrating the sound. I also made a video of a Bach prelude using the
same sound (Youtube.com)
some people noted that it sounds not unlike Wendy Carlos’ “Switched On Bach"
Full disclosure: there is one definitely processed sound in ‘we
travelled far’ where I put the piano through a Moog filter with LFO
(“wop-wop-wop-wop…”), but everything else is the real sound I recorded from
the piano after I ‘prepared’ it. It’s true that there are big reverbs and
delays (some of which are quite complex and evolving) added to the prepared
piano sounds, but there are no synths on the album, it’s all prepared piano!
Contents A beginning [3.25]; the sun rose [4.03]; and then I saw you [4.29]; a conversation (2.58) we danced for seven [3.46] autumn came too soon [3.22]; the fall [0.48]; adrift [4.16]; the melting [3.20]; singing old songs [4.38]; we travelled far [5.51]; goodnight, my love [2.28]
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