In August 2020 I released an album of original guitar music called The Music of Trees. Each piece was written about a different tree after spending time in nature focusing my intention on the thoughts, feelings and sounds that came to me.
When writing instrumental music, the emotions, feelings and thoughts will be unique to the listener but I like to feel I captured the essence of what the tree meant to me.
On some visits to the woods, I would hear a tune in my head and then try to work out which tree I felt the music related to and on other days I wouldn’t hear a tune at all. I would always make an offering to the tree I was focusing on; I would also talk to it, sit with it and then take out my guitar and play.
The willow was the first tree I wrote about, and the musical ideas came from my own associations of this tree. These included a sense of movement and flow, as it so often grows by the edge of the water and because of the way its young branches move in the wind. After the flowing start to the piece, the music changes and I tried to portray the willow’s vitality and ability to regenerate itself as a fallen twig can grow into a new tree if it sticks in the soil!
As the ideas for the compositions developed, I researched the folklore and medicinal properties of each tree by reading books including ‘The Hidden Life of Trees’ by Peter Wohlleben and ‘Walking with Trees’ by Glennie Kindred. I toured The Music of Trees as a show in 2019 and was booked to perform all over the UK in 2020. I combined beautiful music with tree folklore and stories, and the show was a great success.
The Covid-19 lockdown has been a disaster for many sectors, but for those of us in the music industry, the gigs stopped overnight and all tours were cancelled. For me personally, despite the drop in income, the positive side of the lockdown was that I gained free time. I was able to spend hours in the woodlands of Sussex, alone with my guitar, spending time with the trees.
Having a reason to spend time alone in nature with my guitar has been very fulfilling and rewarding and I’m already thinking about which trees to write about next. There is something very magical about being with a tree – connecting, listening and waiting for musical ideas to come.
Hopefully our festivals and music venues will be able to reopen in 2021 and The Music of Trees will be coming to a town near you! I hope to be back at the Edinburgh Fringe in August as well as lots of other regional Arts Festivals, an Arts Council funded rural tour of the Midlands and a rescheduling of the 2020 gigs that were cancelled.
You can buy this beautiful album here in the AST shop AND plant 4 trees at the same time!
Thank you very much to Geoff Robb for this lovely article.
He is featured in our DirecTree, under CreativiTree where you can find out more about him.
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PS: If you want to do your bit to combat climate change and global warming you can take part in our tree planting and protection projects. Climate change is a global problem. What happens in one country affects other countries across the globe. This is why we support tree planting worldwide.
www.jackinthegreen.org ethical gift shop is supporting us by planting trees with every purchase so a great place to buy your gifts from!