Scott Walker

Scott Walker (born Noel Scott Engel; January 9, 1943 – March 22, 2019) left the earthly plane this spring.

I’ve never listened to his critically acclaimed solo albums, so I figured, perhaps a fitting tribute would be to listen my way through as many of his albums as I could (easily) find.

Scott Walker first came into the public’s eye as the front man for the American Pop Group, The Walker Brothers. Their two biggest hits were “Make It Easy on Yourself” and “The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine (Anymore)”.

Scott.

After departing the Walker Brothers he launched his solo career with the album “Scott”, aiming a bit away from his mainstream pop music past, and more towards world weary Jacques Brel cabaret. In fact, his English versions of Brel’s songs were some of the highlights of his early work.

Scott 2.

His next album, “Scott 2” continued in the same vein, with even more Brel tunes and a bit of a folk tinge.

Funny, no matter how pleasant the musical arrangement or how mellifluous his baritone voice, he cannot resist twisting the knife of weirdness with his lyrics.

Also he really seems to like singing songs about prostitutes and brothels.

scott 3.

“Scott 3” is a far more consistent album than the previous two. Plus, I’ve had it on repeat all morning and haven’t noticed a single mention of prostitutes or bordellos.

It seems like this is the album where he first got everything together, there are some pretty great songs and very good vocal performances.

scott 4.

Oddly, “Scott 4” was actually Walker’s fifth album, but “Scott Walker Sings Songs From His T.V. Show”, his actual 4th album, is not easily available.

While Walker’s earlier albums felt like they could be made almost any time in the 20th Century, Scott 4 has its feet firmly in the 1970s.

On many songs he jettisons cabaret stylings for electric guitar and rock vocal tropes. “Boychild” and “Duchess” are the stand outs here. “Boychild”, in particular, provides a template for much of the record label 4AD’s early sound.

til the band comes in.

On the previous “Scott 4”, Walker had added a new voice/persona to his arsenal, that of the pop jazz vocalist. Unfortunately, he continues that persona for several songs on “til the band comes in”, sounding like a dime store Tony Bennett. Particularly bad are the songs where he attempts to imitate African-American speech patterns. Embarrassing.

That said, “The War is Over” is as good a song, and performance, as any other he had put to vinyl up to this time.

Climate of Hunter.

Walker’s record label had been increasingly frustrated with the sales of his solo albums. After “Scott 4” and “til the band comes in” failed to chart, they saddled him with increasingly onerous producers and projects. When none of those worked out, eventually they dropped him. He found other labels and even participated in a reunion of “The Walker Brothers”. After a few albums from the reformed Walker Brothers, Walker dropped out of sight for about 10 years and didn’t release any recordings until 1984’s “Climate of Hunter”.

The first thing that struck me is the center of his voice has moved. On the early records he’s a chest/throat singer. On Hunter, his voice has moved to his head. Also, he is singing with a consistent persona, rather than flitting from one to another from song to song.

Musically, it reminds me a bit of Brian Ferry albums from this period, but without the backup singers. Interestingly, Evan Parker provides soprano sax parts on a couple tracks!

Lyrically, he has really found his voice, though I would be hard pressed to tell you what any of the songs are about.

The only distracting thing are a few horrible mid-1980s style guitar solos.

Overall, it feels more compelling, and, perhaps, honest, than any of his earlier albums.

Tilt.

I’ve been listening to “Tilt” exclusively for two days now and I don’t really feel any closer to understanding it.

It feels alien yet compelling. I’ve no idea what any of the songs are about, but the words seem to make some sort of dream-like sense.

The same with the music, light classical might be alongside samples of power drills or feeding back guitars.

Some sort of hermetic watershed or culmination of his work up to this time. Eerie and astounding.

The Drift.

Uh.

Someone really should have warned me about “The Drift”. This is one of the darkest pieces of artistic expression I’ve ever run across. Seriously. And I’ve read some dark shit.

This is going to haunt me.

I’m gonna be seeing the flayed and dismembered bodies of various animals out of the corner of my eye for weeks.

Reminds me of some of Ben Wheatley or John Hillcoat’s early movies.

Disturbing.

Bish Bosch.

⁣⁣The lyrics on “Bish Bosch” are nearly as opaque and gruesome as its predecessor “The Drift”, but somehow there’s an air of humor over the proceedings that makes it a bit less of a claustrophobic ordeal.⁣⁣
⁣⁣⁣⁣
⁣⁣In fact, the longest song, “SDSS1416+13B (Zercon, A Flagpole Sitter)”, clocking in at over 20 minutes, is pretty much nothing but a series of, often unaccompanied, well, I hesitate to call them “jokes”, but, at least, shaggy dog stories. The stories in sequence, one after another, as not-quite-jokes, actually gets funny, after a while, in the way William S. Burroughs’ “Naked Lunch” is “funny”.⁣⁣
⁣⁣⁣⁣
⁣⁣Maybe it’s Stockholm Syndrome.⁣⁣
⁣⁣⁣⁣
⁣⁣Bish Bosch seems to bring together Walker’s early obsession with the world weary cabaret songs of Jacques Brel and fuse their sensibility with the gruesome black humor of his later work.⁣⁣
⁣⁣⁣⁣
⁣⁣It’s not exactly pretty, but it works.⁣⁣

soused.

⁣I guess if you were only familiar with Scott Walker’s work with the Walker Brothers or his early solo work, you might be a bit surprised by “Soused”. Handsome “Pop Singer” works with bearded, robe wearing, drone metal dudes!?
⁣⁣
⁣On the other hand, if you’d only heard Walker’s Tilt, The Drift, and Bish Bosch, you’d be, like, why didn’t this happen sooner? It would have prevented those bad 1980s guitar solos on “Climate of Hunter”!⁣
⁣⁣
⁣Anyway, this is mostly Walker, with the Sunn O))) boys providing the correct atmosphere for his bleak, gruesome songs. Pretty Great, if you are a fan of Walker’s later work or Sunn O))).⁣
⁣⁣

Live at Fort Miley

For the last couple weeks I’ve been a bit obsessed with recording my Soprano Sax in various acoustic environments at Fort Miley Military Reservation near work.

I tried as much as possible to include environmental sounds, from birds to skateboarders to passersby.

I think it is an interesting slice of where I am as a Soprano Saxophonist and improvisor.

Live at Fort Miley, by Erik Ellestad

Live at Fort Miley, by Erik Ellestad

6 track album

Source: erikellestad.bandcamp.com/album/live-at-fort-miley

Seven Minutes, More or Less

After finishing with this phase of the Lutheran Hymnal Project, I wanted to move in a different direction, and cover some popular songs, along with learning to use techniques like real time audio effects and looping.

The first primary sound source is my recording of Lutheran Hymn 602, aka “Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow”, aka the Doxology. The second primary sound source was a feedback loop I made of the ambient sound in my work office building.

Everything is chopped, mangled, and looped in various ways, mostly using the features of an audio program called, “AudioMulch”.

Play it loud.

Seven Minutes, More or Less, by Erik Ellestad

Seven Minutes, More or Less, by Erik Ellestad

7 track album

Source: erikellestad.bandcamp.com/album/seven-minutes-more-or-less

Autumn Leaves

For my second recognizable tune on my next album I wanted to do “Autumn Leaves”, a standard made initially famous when it was sung by Yves Montand.

For the song, I wanted to make it sound a bit like a Mechanical Orchestra, so instead of having one part play the melody, I split it between 4 instruments. Then had them hold the chord which is created.

The second time through, the 4 clarinets are assigned the notes, but given no indication when to come in, sounding a bit like the Mechanical Orchestra has broken down.

For the final time through, a single clarinet plays the melody with the bass clarinet accompanying.

These are the original French lyrics for “Les Feuilles Mortes” by “Realist” poet Jacques Prévert, translated by google translate. This is the version Yves Montand sang in the soundtrack to the movie, “Les Portes de la nuit”.

Oh, I wanted you to remember
Happy days where we were friends
At that time life was more beautiful
And the sun is more hot than today
Dead leaves gathered by shovel
You see, I have not forgotten
Dead leaves gathered by shovel
Memories and regrets also
And the north wind prevails,
In the cold night of oblivion
You see I have not forgotten,
The song you were singing
Dead leaves gathered by shovel
Memories and regrets too,
But my silent and faithful love
Still smiles and thanks life

I loved you so much, you were so pretty,
How do you want me to forget you?
At that time life was more beautiful
And the sun is more hot than today
You were my sweetest friend
But I do not regret
And the song you were singing,
Always, always I will hear it
This song reminds me of us,
You loved me, I loved you
And we lived, both together,
You who loved me, I who loved you
But life separates those who love each other,
Gently, without making noise
And the sea erases on the sand
The footsteps of disunited lovers

The American songwriter, Johnny Mercer wrote the English lyrics most associated with the tune “Autumn Leaves”, and performed by a wide variety of Jazz and Pop vocalists, from Jo Stafford to Frank Sinatra to The Everly Brothers. They’re a little lame, in comparison to the French lyrics.

The falling leaves drift by my window
The falling leaves of red and gold
I see your lips the summer kisses
The sunburned hands I used to hold

Since you went away the days grow long
And soon I’ll hear old winter’s song
But I miss you most of all my darling
When autumn leaves start to fall

Since you went away the days grow long
And soon I’ll hear old winter’s song
But I miss you most of all my darling
When autumn leaves start to fall

I miss you most of all my darling
When autumn leaves start to fall

The Wayfaring Stranger

Poor Wayfaring Stranger

Whew.

As I mentioned, my plan for the next phase is to do more arranging.

For “The Wayfaring Stranger”, I challenged myself to write a piano part along with the 4 clarinet parts.

Clarinet/Piano Arrangement:Poor_Wayfaring_Stranger

Which wouldn’t have been so bad, except I ran into a weird problem with Apple’s GarageBand about half way through.

I’d written a part for the piano, exported it to a midi file. And whenever I imported it into GarageBand, it started doing some sort of weird auto-transposing of all the other parts. It took me about a week, but I finally figured out what was going on.

If you choose the option to “Import Tempo Information” from your midi track, GarageBand does this. I have no idea why, but the easy solution is to choose not to import Tempo Information from your midi track.

The Wayfaring Stranger” is thought to be a traditional American song, but no one knows for sure where it comes from.

Some historians have traced its genesis to the 1780s, others, the early 1800s. Depending on who you’re talking to the song may be a reworked black spiritual, a lifted native hymn, or even a creation of nomadic Portuguese settlers from the southern Appalachian region.

It has been covered, as far as I can tell, by just about everyone in the universe.

Harmonically, the melody is quite similar, being Pentatonic, to the Irish song, “Keg of Brandy,” and the Who’s, “Behind Blue Eyes,” among many other songs.

One of my favorite songs.

1 I’m just a poor wayfaring stranger,
I’m trav’ling through this world below;
There is no sickness, toil, nor danger,
In that bright world to which I go.
I’m going there to see my father,
I’m going there no more to roam;
I’m just a going over Jordan,
I’m just a going over home.

2 I know dark clouds will gather o’er me,
I know my pathway’s rough and steep;
But golden fields lie out before me,
Where weary eyes no more shall weep.
I’m going there to see my mother,
She said she’d meet me when I come;
I’m just a going over Jordan,
I’m just a going over home.

3 I want to sing salvations story,
In concert with the blood-washed band;
I want to wear a crown of glory,
When I get home to that good land.
I’m going there to see my brothers,
They passed before me one by one;
I’m just a going over Jordan,
I’m just a going over home.

4 I’ll soon be free from every trial,
This form will rest beneath the sod;
I’ll drop the cross of self-denial,
And enter in my home with God.
I’m going there to see my Saviour,
Who shed for me His precious blood;
I’m just a going over Jordan,
I’m just a going over home.

136 – Come Thou Almighty King

Please turn your hymnals to number 136 and join the clarinets in, “Come Thou Almighty King”.

Number: 136
First Line: Come Thou Almighty King
Name: MOSCOW.
Meter: 6 6 4, 6 6 6 4.
Tempo: Joyfully
Music: Felice de Giardini, 1716-96
Text: Authorship Uncertain
Whitefield’s Collection, 1757 a.

This is an interesting hymn. A tad more musically interesting than most. It moves from contrasting harmony parts, to a unison refrain, and back to harmony.

Quite pleasant!

Felice Giardini (April 12, 1716 – June 8, 1796) was an Italiancomposer and violinist.

Felice Giardini was born in Turin.[1] When it became clear that he was a child prodigy, his father sent him to Milan. There he studied singing, harpsichord and violin but it was on the latter that he became a famous virtuoso. By the age of 12, he was already playing in theater orchestras. In a famous incident about this time, Giardini, who was serving as assistant concertmaster (i.e. leader of the orchestra) during an opera, played a solo passage for violin which the composer Niccolò Jommelli had written. He decided to show off his skills and improvised several bravura variations which Jommelli had not written. Although the audience applauded loudly, Jommelli, who happened to be there, was not pleased and suddenly stood up and slapped the young man in the face. Giardini, years later, remarked, “it was the most instructive lesson I ever received from a great artist.”

Clarinet Arrangement: 136-ComeThouAlmightKing

Red Service Book and Hymnal
Red Service Book and Hymnal

135 – Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of Hosts

Please turn your hymnals to number 135 and join with the clarinets in, “Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of Hosts”.

Number: 135
First Line: Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of Hosts
Name: ST. ATHANASIUS.
Meter: 7 7, 7 7, 7 7.
Tempo: With dignity, in moderate time
Music: Edward John Hopkins, 1818-1901
Text: Christopher Wordsworth, 1807–1885

Clarinet Arrangement: 135-HolyHolyHolyLordGodOfHosts

Pretty generic hymn stuff here from Dr Hopkins, even with some unusually close harmonies at points. Apparently, he was something of a prodigy on the Church Organ, getting his first appointment at only 16.

Dr. Edward John Hopkins FRCO (30 June 1818 – 4 February 1901) was an English organist and composer.[1] He was born on 30 June 1818 in Westminster.[2] He was the eldest son of George Hopkins, a clarinet player who played with the orchestra of the Royal Opera House. Two of his brothers, John and Thomas Hopkins, also became organists – John at Rochester Cathedral and Thomas at St Saviour’s Church, York. His uncle Edward Hopkins was also an outstanding clarinettist and bandmaster of the Scots Guards in 1815.[3]

In 1826 he became a chorister of the Chapel Royal under William Hawes and sang at the coronation of King William IV in Westminster Abbey in 1830. At the same time, he sang in the choir of St Paul’s Cathedral, having to manage his double schedule with great dexterity. On Sunday evenings, he would play the outgoing voluntary for his organ teacher Thomas Forbes Walmisley, the father of Thomas Attwood Walmisley, at St. Martin’s-in-the-Fields.[3] He left the Chapel Royal in 1834 and started studying organ construction at two organ factories.[3]

His first organist appointment was at Mitcham Church. He played in a blind audition against several other organists and won first place in the auditions. The committee, on seeing that he was only sixteen, were reluctant to appoint him but his friend James Turle, the organist at Westminster Abbey, where Hopkins had played as a stand-in for Turle, informed them of the fact and he was appointed.[3]

Red Service Book and Hymnal
Red Service Book and Hymnal

134 – Father Most Holy

Please turn your hymnals to number 134 and join with the clarinets in, “Father Most Holy”.

Number: 134
First Line: Father Most Holy
Name: CHRISTE SANCTORUM.
Meter: 11 11, 11 5.
Tempo: Unison, in moderate time
Music: XVIII cent. French Church Melody
Harm. by R. Vaughn Williams, 1872-1958
Text: Latin Hymn, cir. X cent.
Tr. Percy Dearmer, 1867-1936
Text and harmony from THE ENGLISH HYMNAL, Oxford University Press

Clarinet Arrangement: 134-FatherMostHoly

Fortunately, the Bass Clarinet is back at home, as this would have been a tough one to tackle on the Sax. Far too many notes below Bb. In addition, it’s a complex organ arrangement meant to accompany a unison choir or congregation, so in many places there are 6 notes sounding at once. A six part sax choir might sound good in theory, but in practice, it’s tough.

Anyway, this is a lovely arrangement by the famous English composer, R. Vaughn Williams.

Ralph Vaughan Williams OM (Listeni/ˈreɪf ˌvɔːn ˈwɪljəmz/[n 1] 12 October 1872 – 26 August 1958) was an English composer and folk song collector. His works include operas, ballets, chamber music, secular and religious vocal pieces and orchestral compositions including nine symphonies, written over nearly fifty years. Strongly influenced by Tudor music and English folk-song, his output marked a decisive break in British music from its German-dominated style of the 19th century.

Vaughan Williams was born to a well-to-do family with strong moral views and a progressive social outlook. Throughout his life he sought to be of service to his fellow citizens, and believed in making music as available as possible to everybody. He wrote many works for amateur and student performance. He was musically a late developer, not finding his true voice until his late thirties; his studies in 1907–08 with the French composer Maurice Ravel helped him clarify the textures of his music.

Vaughan Williams is among the best-known British symphonists, noted for his very wide range of moods, from stormy and impassioned to tranquil, from mysterious to exuberant. Among the most familiar of his other concert works are Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis (1910) and The Lark Ascending (1914). His vocal works include hymns, folk-song arrangements and large-scale choral pieces. He wrote eight works for stage performance between 1919 and 1951. Although none of his operas became popular repertoire pieces, his ballet Job: A Masque for Dancing (1930) was successful and has been frequently staged.

Two episodes made notably deep impressions in Vaughan Williams’s personal life. The First World War, in which he served in the army, had a lasting emotional effect. Twenty years later, though in his sixties and devotedly married, he was reinvigorated by a love affair with a much younger woman, who later became his second wife. He went on composing through his seventies and eighties, producing his last symphony months before his death at the age of eighty-five. His works have continued to be a staple of the British concert repertoire, and all his major compositions and many of the minor ones have been recorded.

Red Service Book and Hymnal
Red Service Book and Hymnal

133c – O Trinity of Blessed Light

Please turn your hymnals to number 133 (Third Tune) and join with the Saxophones in, “O Trinity of Blessed Light”.

Number: 133 (Third Tune)
First Line: O Trinity of Blessed Light
Name: ILLSLEY.
Meter: L.M.
Tempo: Slowly
Music: John Bishop, 1665-1737
Text: Ascribed to St. Ambrose, 340-397
Tr. John Mason Neale, 1816-66

Saxophone Arrangement: 133c-OTrinityOfBlessedLight

Final setting of St. Ambrose’s Poem, “O Trinity of Blessed Light”.

I mean, when else do you get to use “Paraclete” in a poem, other than on Trinity Sunday?

Paraclete (Gr. παράκλητος, Lat. paracletus) means advocate or helper. In Christianity, the term “paraclete” most commonly refers to the Holy Spirit.

O Trinity of Blessed Light,
O Unity of princely might,
The fiery sun now goes his way;
Shed thou within our hearts thy ray.

To thee our morning song of praise,
To thee our evening prayer we raise;
Thy glory suppliant we adore
For ever and forever more.

All laud to God the Father be,
All praise, eternal Son, to thee,
lAll glory, as is ever meet,
To God the holy Paraclete. Amen.

Red Service Book and Hymnal
Red Service Book and Hymnal

133b – O Trinity of Blessed Light

Please turn your hymnals to number 133 (Second Tune) and join with the Saxophones in, “O Trinity Of Blessed Light”.

Number: 133 (Second Tune)
First Line: O Trinity of Blessed Light
Name: AETERNA CHRISTI MUNERA.
Meter: L.M.
Tempo: With movement
Music: Rouen Church Melody
Text: Ascribed to St. Ambrose, 340-97
Tr. John Mason Neale, 1818-66

Saxophone Arrangement: 133b-OTrinityBlessedLight

Rouen, apparently, is an city in France, and the capital of Normandy.

Rouen (French pronunciation: ​[ʁwɑ̃]; Frankish: Rodomo; Latin: Rotomagus) is a city on the River Seine in the north of France. It is the capital of the region of Normandy. Formerly one of the largest and most prosperous cities of medieval Europe, Rouen was the seat of the Exchequer of Normandy during the Middle Ages. It was one of the capitals of the Anglo-Norman dynasties, which ruled both England and large parts of modern France from the 11th to the 15th centuries.

The population of the metropolitan area (in French: agglomération) at the 2007 census was 532,559, with the city proper having an estimated population of 110,276. People from Rouen are known as Rouennais.

Red Service Book and Hymnal
Red Service Book and Hymnal