As a conclusive demonstration that I have no shame whatever, this is a
page devoted to samples of my own music recorded in MIDI and formatted in MIDI and mp3.
The project of improving these MIDI transcriptions is ongoing. If somewhat slow. One problem with MIDI is that there is literally no way of telling how
your sample will sound on someone else's card.
I have discovered that on most cards, the Voice Oohs or Synth
Voice will be completely dominated by the piano accompaniment, even if
you whack up the volume as high as you can. So in the first of these
improved samples, I have substituted the bass voice with the trombone,
which means that it will be heard on most people's systems. In The Rhyme of the
Flying Bomb, the soprano part is taken by the oboe.
I have also discovered that piano pedalling tends to sound different on
different soundcards. A good card will treat the sustain as it happens
in real life, i.e. with a natural decay. Other cards will switch a
sound on when they receive a sustain command and leave it switched on
until they are told to switch it off again. This can cause interesting
effects! The pedalling on these pieces should sound fairly subtle, and
if it doesn't - I can do nothing but apologise.
Now that we have broadband and faster download speeds, it has become
practicable to produce these samples in mp3 format. This has the dual advantage that you
can have live performance (Gabriel) and in the MIDI samples can hear them the way they were
intended to sound. So I have been busy converting the samples on this page. I have now done
the Apollinaire Songs, the oboe piece, the rondo, Gabriel and the Flying Bomb excerpts; please keep coming back.
As far as the music goes, I am an
amateur composer, but have written some fairly large-scale and ambitious
works, most of which have been performed. Although my musical tastes
veer towards the atonal, most of my music is, for some reason, written
in a very conservative (not to use the word outdated!) style.
THE MUSIC ACCESSED FROM THIS PAGE IS COPYRIGHT © LANGDON JONES,
1998.ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. UNAUTHORISED COPYING, LENDING, AND PUBLIC
PERFORMANCE OF ANY OF THIS MUSIC IS PROHIBITED
Christmas Medley for Recorder Quartet
This was a piece written for the Berkshire Recorder Consort. The section towards the end in the key of Db caused some consternation among members of the consort prior to the first public performance (which they performed perfectly), but the recorder is, after all, a chromatic instrument.
Piece for Oboe and Piano
This is a very early piece, and is the last of a set of three. The other two
aren't worth including here, but this one has a wistful tune which I
still like. So here it is!
Three Apollinaire Songs
An early set of three songs for bass and piano.
The Inscription obviously comes from a tomb. The protagonist is in a stateof serenity, all-knowing, content to die.
The Skirt is a fantasy upon the skirt of his mistress. It has masochistic
and fetishistic overtones. He sees her skirt as a bell and, presumably
lying in her bed, has a disturbing vision of her hanging skirts as
The Circus People is a description of a circus parade,
seen first at a distance, then in middle distance and finally in
Rondo in D
This was originally written for four recorders, but set for brass instruments it has the feel of an extended fanfare.
The Rondo hovers between the major and minor; there are four main themes,
one for each of the episodes, and one which appears at various points,
at first in the bass on the first repetition of the first theme.
In the final appearance of the main theme, one of the sections has all four themes playing simultaneously.
The Rondo has been performed a few times locally.
Gabriel, Fram Heven-King
This is a transformation of a medieval carol - a contemporary English version of Angelus ad Virginem.
The piece uses the English version of the tune which is modified
considerably from the more familiar Latin version to accommodate the
Middle English words.
It is set for soprano, clarinet and piano,
and begins with the unaltered medieval tune harmonised in its contemporary style. During
the course of the piece the clarinet explores the extreme high register,
sometimes to interesting effect during performance!
This piece was performed at a recital in South Hill Park, mainly devoted to the music
of Richard Walthew. The performers were Daniela Kahan, soprano,
John Walthew (the composer's grandson) on clarinet and me on piano.
This is a rather rough performance, but it was the only recording to be made, during the course of the rehearsals.
The piece is sung in Middle English.
The Folk-Music Suite is in five movements for soprano and recorder quartet.
One Man Shall Shear My Wethers is one of the purely instrumental ones, and I
have given it an orchestral arrangement. It is in the same kind of form
as One Man Went To Mow, although the tune is completely different. Every
time the tune comes round it is lengthened, and in this version it comes
round five times.
A Sprig of Thyme is a sad song about the loss of
virtue and time, and the words play on the 'thyme/time' pronunciation so
that sometimes it is not clear which one is meant ('Thyme, it is the
prettiest thing, and thyme/time it will grow on, and time, it'll bring
all things to an end').
The Jig is associated with one of the most
embarrassing moments of my life, when a semi-professional recorder group
with which I played entered a music competition, and selected this piece
to play. We turned up on the day, and discovered that the only other
group in the competition was a school recorder group. There was much
audible muttering among the mums and dads in attendance about
the unfairness of adults competing against children. We played the Jig and
we won against these children, who were clearly very upset
and disappointed. One of us had to go and collect the trophy, and none
of us wanted to - the whole event took place in a kind of glassy horror.
All in all it was one of those moments which make you squirm years after
The suite has been performed publicly a couple of times
in its entirety by two different local groups, and individual movements
have also been separately performed locally.
The Rhyme of the Flying Bomb
is a setting of Mervyn Peake's one-hundred-and-twenty-five stanza ballad,
which describes a conversation between a sailor and a new-born baby in
the middle of an air-raid on London. The setting lasts an hour, is very
difficult and taxing for the performers,and has received only one public
performance, at South Hill Park in Bracknell.
The setting is for soprano, bass-baritone, narrator and piano. Any apparently inspirational lacunae in these extracts might be due to the fact that of necessity the narrator's part is missing.
The sailor carries the baby through the wreckage of the air raid, and
reflects that they would be safer on the ocean, or where the soldiers
are fighting, than here in London where glass is flying and houses are
But although his wound is throbbing, the sailor feels
an uprush of an almost hysterical joy as he carries the baby through the
burning streets. It suddenly drains away when he contemplates the scene
See! See! Ha! Ha! How the dazzling streets
Are empty from end to end
With only a cat with a splinter through its heart
And an arm where the railings bend.
In the sanctuary of the church the sailor contemplates the baby, rejoicing
in it, but conscious that it will 'never be washed or dressed'.
The baby opens its eyes and looks at the sailor, and then begins to
speak,telling him that it has lived many lives and has seen many
things. 'There's nothing outside of the womb of Eve that you wouldn't
have known inside.' The baby wishes to sing with the sailor 'as we sang
in the early days.'
For sailor, there's nothing that is not true
If it's true to your heart and mine
From a unicorn to a flying bomb,
From a wound to a glass of wine.
The baby leaps from the sailor's arms and hovers in the air; the sailor joyfully raises his voice and sings with the baby, a song of all their yesterdays. In this
setting, the song is mainly wordless.
At the conclusion of their song his joy suddenly evaporates, and he feels
fear, which grows into a state of terror.
The baby returns to the
sailor's side, and tells him that his fear is understandable when he can
see 'nothing left but a gaping skull on the spine of the wounded
world'. But the baby tries to console the sailor, telling him that at
least the two of them are well, and that anyway death is nothing to
fear, it is 'so mean and small'.
It snatches away the burning breath
And it snatches at the useless clay,
But what can it do to halt the square-rigged soul
As it steers away?
The flying bomb is on its way, the baby having lured it to this spot so
that they might die together. The baby has been telling the sailor that
his immortal soul can only be tested in death. But to the terrified
sailor all this talk of imponderable souls is irrelevant. "Where are the
tears of my spirit, child?" he asks. "and how are its cheekbones dried?"
The sailor can understand his own body, much more than a soul he knows nothing about.
extract is from the last section of the poem. The flying bomb is
about to fall. The baby in a state of ecstasy sees a vision of the
Virgin Mary. The sailor's mood changes from extreme terror to one of joy
- just before the point at which this extract begins he sings: "Now God
be praised, the ships of Hell are in the bay!"
The sailor's vision is of the sea. He can now accept his own death, and he welcomes it with joy.
How glorious it is to sway
Upon the waves of war!
At the end, the baby tells the sailor to listen to 'the silence of the cross, that
we've been waiting for'. The engine of the flying bomb cuts out, and it begins to fall