First of all, I can’t possibly generate a freehand pencil drawing to compete with Oli’s picture for the new album cover, so here it is at it appears in real life. Stunning, eh. He was about four when he made it. It has hung on our wall almost ever since, until I thought, gee that’d make a great album cover. Exactly the same thing happened with Tim Bass’s piece that appeared on the cover of Life’s undertow.
Media vita (links below) is my fourth solo piano release, and the first to comprise only written tunes. I’ve talked about my writing project for last year, and yes, I got to the end with a composition for every day. A leap year, too: 366 tunes. Twelve of those pieces – that is, 3.28% of them – have made it onto the album. Most were written before the first session, in May, but others emerged ahead of the second, in October.
The album is dedicated to a close friend who lost her partner, at the tender age of 31, in 2015. I am given to dedications: when you make something and it feels like a thing you’ve made it’s kind of sweet to give (nowadays they’d say ‘gift’, but we all know that’s a noun) it to someone whom you love and who you think might somehow appreciate the gesture. All the albums I’ve made since Freehand have had dedications, and the two I made before that didn’t because I wasn’t the leader as such and couldn’t make that call. (Nor did I think to, actually, but never mind.) Almost everyone to whom I’ve dedicated an album has been either surprised or delighted or shocked or thrilled or some combination of these things. And all of them have been grateful.
Patrick White’s first novel after returning to Australia, The tree of man, is dedicated
When you read about what Manoly Lascaris went through while White was writing it, the dedication looks thoroughly deserved but also somehow disproportionate. White’s late self-portrait, Flaws in the glass, is inscribed
On my shelf (and it may not be a complete count, but let’s not be picky) there are nine intervening books, and each is dedicated to someone else. I love that Manoly had a dedication near the beginning and near the end of the work. There is far more of him in Flaws in the glass, but the company and support he gave White through the years that produced The tree of man are, I suppose, an inclusion of a different kind.
When I made Freehand in 2002 I outlined in the notes my debt to Tony Gould and the late Mietta O’Donnell, who were the album’s dedicatees. As I said then, the recording felt like a culmination of something that had started with gigs I did that they had organised and hosted. Nine open questions, from two years later, was addressed to Jim McLeod, who was retiring from the ABC, and who had been consistently encouraging to me as I came along. (Also, his program had generated the recordings.)
Three friends in winter was dedicated to all the children that the trio’s members had produced so far, and there are now three others so we’d probably better do something about that. Mickets and Scare quotes went to friends either whose company I’d enjoyed or with whom I’d worked, or both.
Life’s undertow I dedicated to Sall because, well, it was time. In a way she should have been right at the front (although the first tune on the first album I made – S.S.T.T. – was written for her, so in a way I got going off the right foot). Also because, recording in Sydney and away from home for a day or so, she and the children were much in my mind. As I played ‘Synapse’, the album’s final selection, I was thinking only of them. I recall it so clearly.
The dedication of I’ll tell you later to Phoebs was for two reasons: she and her husband suffered a personal loss that touched me, and she had been overwhelmingly positive about the program when it was first presented in recital. Her enthusiasm (and that of several others who heard it) was such that I determined shortly after to take it into the studio and see what came of it.