a sea warren



It was in March 2022 that I set about the task of teaching myself to read and write music for an orchestra. I had very little knowledge of music theory or notation, it was basically just an exercise to see if I could compose something.Initially I was just messing about. Creating small pieces. Learning as much as I could about composition, orchestration and the software that I was using. After a short while I decided that I wanted to write something for a symphony orchestra, so I took the pieces that I had and worked on expanding them so that they would fit this brief.I first visited New Lanark as a tourist from southern England around 2006. It immediately struck me as a fascinating place. A natural beauty, steeped in history and an incredible insight into Britain during a very challenging period. I now live and work in the area, and a lot of the main themes were written during my lunch breaks, so the idea of basing this orchestral suite on New Lanark happened quite naturally.From starting to learn composition to the completion of this orchestral suite in less than 10 months is quite a struggle to comprehend. Yes, I have been making guitar based music for many years, but this seems such a short space of time. It's very difficult to explain. A large credit needs to go to my partner Vicky, she is classically trained, and has patiently answered all of my queries (however basic) as simply as possible for me. I'm immensely happy with how it has turned out, and it has set me on a completely different musical trajectory for the future.


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‘Orchestral Suite No. 1 - New Lanark’ by A Sea WarrenIf you are a fan of indie music you will know of A Sea Warren (Al to his friends). He is probably best known as a guitarist and songwriter with more than twenty releases to his name. This album will come as a real surprise, and a delightful one at that. Almost a year ago he took the decision to start from scratch learning musical notation and orchestration. Ably assisted by Vicky, his long-suffering partner, who is classically trained, he started at page one and the results are truly remarkable. What we have in this album is a suite of orchestral pieces inspired by what seems to be a 15 year love affair with the region of Scotland in which he now lives and works. The level of commitment to achieving this level of inspiration and skill in such a short time would be worth your applause in any event, but if this work marks a change of musical direction for Mr. Warren then I will look forward to what he does next.There are four movements to this suite. Individually and collectively they are massive in scope and, to my ears have a cinematic feel. It seems reasonable to assume that he has created this work using keyboards, sound fonts and software. I doubt he had the wherewithal to employ a full orchestra but listening through headphones at reasonable volume it is difficult to tell. The quality of recording here is masterful. I will look forward to an opportunity, if one presents, to hear this performed by a live orchestra. We can but hope!‘The Falls of Clyde’ makes great use of swirling strings and some dynamic percussion, brass and flutes. I stand in awe of those who are able to conceive of compositions of this scale and complexity but to achieve this in less than a year is hard to credit. ‘The March of Robert Owen’ has, as you might expect, a very martial feel to it. To my ears it sounds like it should be the soundtrack for a battle scene in a movie yet it seems that Robert Owen was a Mill Owner with forward thinking views about the care of his employees. One of those mill workers, one Annie McLeod, died very young working at the mill and her sad tale has become part of local legend as well as being the inspiration for ‘The Death of Annie McLeod’ in the third movement of this suite with its melancholy clarinet theme and pizzicato strings, not to mention some timpani sounds that must have been fiendishly difficult to achieve. The fourth movement is ‘Decline’ and references the slow decline of the site since its closure in 1968 after 150 years or so. Al says “…I’ve tried to convey this slow spiral of decline that must have been devastating for the local community that would have relied heavily on the mill for employment…” and I reckon he has done a good job. This last movement feels much more contemporary. He does some outrageous things with the melodic and harmonic structure that, for me, are a real high point of this work.Like I said at the top…this music is cinematic in scale so it comes as no surprise to find this on Andrew Hartshorn’s Monochrome Motif record label due for release early January 2023 via Bandcamp. I think this is worthy of your attention if you like your music at the epic end of the spectrum. It is going to be a hard act to follow.Phil Thomas


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