August 2014
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Lawrence of Arabia

Posted By on August 27, 2014

Soundtracks that Make Us…

As I continue to watch and listen to this film I am never dissatisfied with its composition. I am always eager from one scene to the next. The “el ‘awrence” imagery, score and sound are captivating, bringing the viewer deeper into the fold. When I watched the film recently I took special note that director David Lean intended to have the score played in theatres, without visuals, during the “Overture, Enter’acte and Exit Music” (Columbia Pictures DVD).

Sitting in my chair listening I begin to think about David Lean’s intentions for doing so. Indeed the score initiates a journey and creates wonder for the viewer. What are we going to see? Where is the film going to take us? There is so much to talk about with this film that I look forward to sitting down with our director, Casey Williams, and listening to his comments about the film. After all knowing that Casey is truly inspired, as am I, by David Lean is a gift, and one gift which I am grateful to have access to. As scene by scene passes Casey will impart his knowledge and I will heartily accept the commentary. There will be questions (of course) and together we will use this knowledge and come up with our own ideas for our own production. The imagination will flow…

Still it is the work of Maurice Jarre that I want to bring to our readers attention today. As a musician myself, I cannot help but wonder about the creativity required to pen the musical notation and understandings of such a magical and daunting soundtrack. Each note, each sound, each theme, each variation, one never grows tired of hearing the sequences and today as I sit in my chair I simply…listen and that is where the magic is…and I remind myself…it is about what you feel. That is the magic of Jarre’s score it makes us feel.

How I wish I could create similar sounds and yet being part of a production that will also include a soundtrack it will bring to my being, and for those others engaged in the spirit of our presentation, more magic, more experience, more to feel. I am eager! How will our soundtrack reflect the balance or discordance from scene to scene? When will certain notes reemerge to connect with our audience’s ear? What will it be like to watch, hear and feel this, our film, on the screen?

I suspect I know how I will feel – but will not come to terms with it all until the actual premiere when our team will sit somewhere quietly watching and waiting with all those in attendance. As the last scene passes from the audience’s view and the credits begin to roll there may be music to fill our hearts and we will know ourselves what we have created. Then – when the audience begins to react because of what they have felt, we will find our hearts on our sleeves as heart-felt congratulations are offered for a project well done. And all the while, after so much passion, so many hurdles, so much work, it will be, at long last, knowing that what connects us in this journey is feeling, heart-felt dedication worn on our sleeves for anyone to experience.

Nimy Railway Bridge VCs

Posted By on August 23, 2014

Nimy Railway Bridge, Belgium.

Nimy Railway Bridge, Belgium.

Snapshot of the Great War 23 August 1914

Once again looking back upon our day in the vicinity of Mons my friends and I took in the site where the first two Victoria Crosses of the Great War were earned. It was at Nimy Railway Bridge that Private Sidney Frank Godley and Lieutenant Maurice Dease of the 4th Battalion Royal Fusiliers manned a machine gun position after others in the battalion were killed or wounded. Dease was mortally wounded and when instructions were received to retreat Godley volunteered to hold the line until the battalion managed to remove itself from harm’s way (for the time being). Godley fought the fight alone for two hours under very heavy fire and was wounded twice, in the head and back. Despite the onslaught Godley, being out of ammunition, then dismantled the machine gun and threw the pieces into the canal below. Godley was made a prisoner of war. The Godley Victoria Cross is privately held.

Plaque at Nimy Railway Bridge commemorating the actions of Dease and Godley.

Plaque at Nimy Railway Bridge commemorating the actions of Dease and Godley.

Dease who commanded the machine gun was wounded on five occasions during the desperate action. He is buried at St. Symphorien Military Cemetery, Belgium. His posthumous Victoria Cross is exhibited at the Tower of London in the Royal Fusiliers Museum.

In 1914 from August through December 46 awards of the Victoria Cross were earned including 8 awards to soldiers in Scottish regiments.

4th Royal Irish Dragoon Guards Cairn

Posted By on August 22, 2014

The commemorative cairn of the 4th Royal Irish Dragoon Guards at Casteau, Belgium.

The commemorative cairn of the 4th Royal Irish Dragoon Guards at Casteau, Belgium.

Snapshot of the Great War 22 August 1914

It was during the same day’s visit to Private Parr’s graveside at St. Symphorien that my friends and I visited the 4th Royal Irish Dragoon Guards commemorative cairn located north east of Mons at Casteau. Here we pulled up in front of a fine building and crossed over the road to the cairn. Certainly the site makes one think back upon that day and now 100 years later I am sure there will be a presence there to mark this anniversary too. On our return to our car, another plaque upon the building, records the last outpost of the 116th Battalion C.E.F. on the day of the ceasefire 11 November 1918.

“This tablet is erected to commemorate the action of “C” Squadron 4th Royal Irish Dragoon Guards on / 22nd August 1914 / When Corporal E. Thomas fired the first shot for the British Expeditionary Force and Captain C.B. Hornby led the first mounted attack against the Germans.”

For more information see:


Private John Parr, Middlesex Regiment

Posted By on August 21, 2014

Pte. John Parr's grave at St. Symphorien Military Cemetery, Belgium

Pte. John Parr’s grave at St. Symphorien Military Cemetery, Belgium.

Snapshot of the Great War 21 August 1914

John Parr is believed to be the first British soldier killed during the Great War on 21 August 1914. Parr served with the 4th Battalion Middlesex Regiment and is thought to have been killed while on a reconnaissance mission. However, there has been growing debate about his fate which is sure to be of considerable discussion on this the 100th Anniversary of Pte. Parr’s death.

Rather than debating what may or may not have been his fate on this day I prefer to remember back to my 2006 visit of Parr’s gravesite at St. Symphorien Military Cemetery located southeast of Mons, Belgium. The day was a memorable visit to this historical area in the vicinity of Mons focusing in on three consecutive days of the Great War. Parr was 17 years of age at the time of his death.

Notes Upon the Landscape

Posted By on August 16, 2014

Pipe Major Willie Ross recorded circa 1910 – 1939.
James MacDonald of Glencoe, Captain Jack Murray, Reel of Tulloch

An early Scottish Pipe Band. Inspiration for us all!

An early Scottish Pipe Band. Inspiration for us all!

The Leader of the Band

The leader of the band is tired
And his eyes are growing old
But his blood runs through my instrument
And his song is in my soul
My life has been a poor attempt
To imitate the man
I’m just a living legacy
To the leader of the band

(Daniel Grayling Fogelberg, 1981)

In 1981 the Dan Fogelberg album “The Innocent Age”, was released. From one album a few lettered lines sung along with the strings of a Martin D41 guitar remind me of the passage of time, youth inspired by an older generation, unwilling perhaps to accept that they themselves have become master too.

It speaks of humility, recognizing those that have gone before and the traditions of passing on knowledge from one to the next. Always searching for connections I look across our pipe band and can only help but wonder…

The magnifying glass is out and I pass it horizontally, drifting across the image. Seven fine lads of various ages and girth stand near a wood. With pipes in arm they stand posed and waiting for the photographer to say “Aye all is well!” and at that moment they nod to the photographer, break ranks, and return to their own company of banter, chatter and chanter.

I cannot help but wonder who these lads are – with no known names – no hint as to location and wonder, as well, that our photographer too is anonymous. Still there are clues, two pipers with awards probably indicative of their piping abilities proudly worn upon their chests. Badges too – one of the Cameron Highlanders on a kilt (third from left) and another of the Gordon Highlanders worn upon a Glengarry (fifth from left).

As well I like to wander into this field and place myself in the day. Have they just finished playing or are they about to begin? Are all members of the band present or did one, maybe two forget the time, the date, and missed the chance to be shown with their fellows? What tunes did they play, what tunes did they like or balk at playing. How did they speak, from whence were their accents borne? When they sat or stood together did they speak of the tools of their trade, the pipes, was it one manufacturer they favoured or were their pipes handed down to them from one generation to another? Another moment in time captured in an instant and now many years later, new technology sends it upon the trail for others to cast their gentle gaze.

As the strings of the Martin D41 ring true I listen to those familiar musical lines circling within my memory all the while looking over these pipers. When the guitar fades away and the pipes are tuned, the drones begin their melody and the notes find their way upon the landscape.

The leader of the band is tired and his eyes are getting old, but we are all legacies of that older person, those that inspire, those at the helm and by our side.

Have a listen to Mr. Fogelberg too. Happy guitar playing and happy piping to all! Traditions alike!