The Birth of Lady Mary by Singer Songwriter Alan Garmonsway

As I continue to create, my songs are becoming more precise on the arrangements and delivery, though I like to keep that live acoustic feel. My earlier recordings often had much longer solo breaks. I don’t want to dispense with these completely, but to balance them up with more compact songs whilst keeping good song structure and meaning.

Listen to the live interview 
Episode #547: A.V.A Live Radio Behind The Music with Jacqueline Jax : http://tobtr.com/10467371

Jacqueline Jax logo photoInterview by Jacqueline Jax
host of A.V.A Live Radio

 

Artist: Alan Garmonsway
(I do solo recordings/gigs but currently also collaborating with singer Anne Cunningham)

I’m Alan Garmonsway, a songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and singer from the UK. This year has been hectic writing, playing and recording a new album ‘Ridgeway’ and bringing on board an additional vocalist Anne Cunningham for the album – I was a band colleague with Anne for ten years in a previous band.

My song writing falls into two main areas. With Anne, it’s been described as ‘acoustic roots, with twists of blues, ballad and rock’. When I record solo, the style shifts a bit to a keyboard-led more rocky style.
In the studio, I play keyboards, acoustic & electric guitars, bass and drums, so I’m usually thinking about arrangements after I’ve written a song. Live I usually play solo, with keyboards and 12-string guitar – no backing tracks.

I’ve been recording my original material for a while, but prior to that I was part of forming two bands simultaneously – one acoustic roots and the other rock, playing keyboards and 12-string in both and also backing vocals. Both bands played all over the South of England and we played support to some well-known names. After quite a lot of years, both bands ended about the same time. That’s when I decided to try more of a solo route, and since then have played in the UK, France, the US and Canada.

A couple of years ago, I also wrote and arranged the music and some lyrics for a musical play ‘Of Heroic Hearts’ which commemorated the centenary of the Battle of the Somme in World War 1 (July 1916). It received its inaugural performance last year and I’m also hopeful of some 2018 performances, as that is the centenary of the end of the war.

So, overall, I’ve been playing, writing and recording for quite some time! It’s now coming more to the fore as I look towards 2018 and I’m really excited by that prospect.

Song name: Lady Mary

Music Genre:: Acoustic Roots (with twists of blues, ballad and rock)
This song is about a vivid dream that my friend once had and he scribbled down a poem about it as he woke up and came back to the real world. I took this poem, turned it into lyrics and added the music.

The music that I create has acoustic roots with a twist of blues, ballad and rock’. Lady Mary is a track on my new ‘Ridgeway’ album. I had one of my band colleagues, Anne Cunningham, in mind to sing this and she ended up singing on most of the songs on the album! She’s a great addition and her vocals complement the music very nicely. Lady Mary is a good example of my style of ballad writing, but as the album develops, the songs also include rock, blues and acoustic guitar themes as well.

 

 

As I continue to create, my songs are becoming more precise on the arrangements and delivery, though I like to keep that live acoustic feel. My earlier recordings often had much longer solo breaks. I don’t want to dispense with these completely, but to balance them up with more compact songs whilst keeping good song structure and meaning.

Anne and I are planning a new album for 2018, and in-between, I also plan the release of some of my solo work, perhaps an EP.

 

23-0417 Alan Garmonsway from Compton at Hampstead Norreys Freefest pic chris forsey 3/6/17

Song writing happens three different ways for me:

  • Sitting with a piano/guitar first and working out some chords and melody before thinking of lyrics.
  • Writing complete lyrics first, perhaps with a bit of research if it’s about a place (eg ‘Wintertime in Paris’, where many of the ideas came out of the Paris tourist guide on the Internet!).
  •  Just thinking up a top-line concept/hook and keeping it in my head until I catch up with music.
    My songs usually evolve over a month or two. I rarely write a song in one session and usually let it roll around in my head for a while and refine it as I go along. I generally just work off a lyric sheet and chords, although I have been known to use musical notation every now and again!

 

I sometimes collaborate on lyrics and vocals, and on the new Ridgeway album one of my ex-band colleagues, Anne Cunningham, provides excellent vocals on the majority of tracks. With the music and arrangements, I usually do all of that myself.

I use Roland keyboards whenever possible and have an vintage Roland D50 synth which has been with me, through thick and thin, gigs and recording, for many years. The string sounds are amazing – very analogue which fits in really well with the acoustic roots approach. I was lucky to do a gig once with a guy called Maart Allcock, who was a member of both Jethro Tull and Fairport Convention. He was a D50 fan as well, and he gave me some of his original sounds that he had programmed and used with those artists. I still use those sounds to this day!

A few years back I bought a stand-alone Roland 24 track recorder/music station and still use it. The post-edit facilities are a bit limited, but that increases your motivation and effort to play it right as it’s being recorded. It also means that I can pretty much record when I like and spend as much time as I want in the studio – so most of the cost for me is in the mastering (I always get that done externally) and cd production, although future projects may well be virtual albums on Spotify, Itunes etc.

I tend not to write new songs in the studio and usually start my studio work by laying down a keyboard or rhythm guitar track, then building up from there multi-tracking instruments and vocals. Most of my studio creativity is focussed on arrangements, deciding which sounds and instruments to use etc.

 

Keeping the balance..
A lot of my life is about creating something, whether music, renovating the house, redesigning the garden or whatever. I’m not in full-time employment now so the music is my main focus. I have to balance the writing and playing. This bit comes fairly naturally to me, but the marketing in an increasing complex digital world is tricky. It’s a learn as you go process. I’ve set up Best Room Songs on Facebook and YouTube to play some of my songs. It’s fairly simple often just a piano or guitar plus vocals.

 

What piece of music advice forever changed your way of thinking?


When I was fourteen, I was an average piano student trying to sight read classical piano pieces. My teacher was my Grandfather, who was an excellent pianist, organist and choirmaster – a lot to live up to, especially as I had a very classical musical family all round me! One day I was grinding my way through a lesson and said ‘Alan, you don’t practice enough and there’s no point continuing like this – it’s wasting my time’. Long pause, then, ‘However, how about doing some music theory for a couple of years?’.

That changed my life as I soon understood chord structures and the like, so if I listened to Led Zep, Santana and other albums, I could easily recognise the chords. Soon I had a queue of school friends asking me to write the chords of their favourite songs and it opened up the opportunity to join rock bands and get into music that way. Also, piano is a great instrument to lead you into playing other instruments like guitar, bass and drums.

 

I live in Newbury in the South of the UK and also have a house in Central West France.

The music scene in Newbury has some bands, but often solo and duos, either covers or originals at times. There are two larger cities close by which are Oxford and Reading. These cities cater for everything from headline acts to cosy folk clubs. Some feature  a lot of the free live music being played in pubs. It’s also convenient that London is just 90 minutes away.

In France, there is a very active music scene, even though we only live in a small town. I play with a rock band over there occasionally and do some solo gigs as well. Music has definitely made me many friends over there. It is just as well as my grasp of the French language still needs some attention!

 

Website & social media links: :
Facebook
www.facebook.com/bestroomsongs

BestRoomSongs Channel
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCxNHJZBeYeDpV-nqzvOFHng

 

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