Here is a collaboration with two of the nicest guys on the cloud, Vlad and Diederik. They met up in Sydney Australia last year and decided to make a track together. Before Christmas, just before Rik moved to the UK, he sent me his lovely gamelan track. I saw it was in the right key for my Uillean Pipes so decided to give them their annual outing. I also liked the idea of playing a counterpoint on my yew wood flute, and that got me thinking about Wordsworth's powerful and mysterious poem about the yew trees he knew where he lived in the Lake District.
Yew trees are wonderful. Some are thought to be over 5000 years old. I know one near here that is at least 1600 years old. The very same ancient yews that Wordsworth describes can still be seen in Borrowdale today. Because of their longevity they were places of worship in pre-Christian times, and many found in church yards in the UK were there long before the churches were built. The wood is a glowing mixture of purple, gold, red and orange, dense and very slow-growing.
All this seemed to fit with Diederik's marvellous bubbling gamelan track. Yew Trees and Gamelan may seem strange bed-fellows but both represent cultural traditions whose origins are lost in the mists of time. I visited Buddhist temples in Cambodia a couple of years ago where the buildings and the trees had intertwined to become almost as one, and that's what I had in mind when I was making this track.
In the meantime, Vlad recorded his bass track, and I couldn't believe when I heard it, it fitted so exactly with what I had added to the track. Apparently we had both heard Diederik's music in precisely the same way.
Anyway, here is Wordsworth's poem.
There is a Yew-tree, pride of Lorton Vale,
Which to this day stands single, in the midst
Of its own darkness, as it stood of yore:
Of vast circumference and gloom profound
This solitary Tree! -a living thing
Produced too slowly ever to decay;
Of form and aspect too magnificent
To be destroyed. But worthier still of note
Are those fraternal Four of Borrowdale,
Joined in one solemn and capacious grove;
Huge trunks! -and each particular trunk a growth
Of intertwisted fibres serpentine
Up-coiling, and inveteratley convolved, -
Nor uninformed with Fantasy, and looks
That threaten the profane; -a pillared shade,
Upon whose grassless floor of red-brown hue,
By sheddings from the pining umbrage tinged
Perennially -beneath whose sable roof
Of boughs, as if for festal purpose decked
With unrejoicing berries -ghostly Shapes
May meet at noontide: Fear and trembling Hope,
Silence and Foresight, Death the Skeleton
And Time the Shadow; there to celebrate,
As in a natural temple scattered o'er
With altars undisturbed of mossy stone,
United worship; or in mute repose
To lie, and listen to the mountain flood
Murmuring from Glaramara's inmost caves.