Friday, January 6, 2017

Thing One About Music

We auditioned a singer I’ll called Natasha a few weeks ago. She didn’t call herself Natasha, and I would be very surprised to learn that anyone she knew did either, as it wasn’t actually her name. In response to my advertisement for a lead singer, she sent links to several videos of herself singing with a succession of accompanists. Her original songs were just awful, I thought — tuneless, with banal lyrics — but she (over)sang them with undeniable skill, deploying all the most fashionable vocal mannerisms of these dreadful times — the melisma and what-have-you — and beggars can’t be choosers, so I invited her to come audition.

She had to come a very long way, from the other side of London, in the company of her not-gorgeous German partner. (In the UK, a woman refers to the boyfriend with whom she lives as her partner, which word usually connotes some sort of professional or commercial linkage in what’s left of my own country.) Herr Partner identified himself as a “music producer”, which nowadays usually means someone able to assemble…grooves in any number of software programmes that don’t require the user to know Thing One about music. He was affable enough, I suppose.

Not really "Natasha"
’d asked Natasha to prepare two of my songs for her audition. She sang them reasonably well, albeit very much more nasally than her videos had led me to expect. Her singing was more than good enough for me to invite her to stay for our actual rehearsal, with Dazza the guitarist and Andrew the bass player. She was pretty good, and tall, and blonde, and we’d been looking for a replacement for Dame Zelda since August. Andrew thought her a little presumptuous — she hadn’t hesitated to decry the way our three instruments were balanced — but he is hyper-English, from the one must stay calm and carry on without complaint school.

His reservations aside, I invited Natasha to join the band the next morning when I phoned her to discuss her audition, which she professed to have enjoyed. She seemed to like the idea, but needed to know how much she was likely to earn in a typical month, and how much of her time the band would consume. I was to understand that she had many other irons in the proverbial fire, not least her own singing/songwriting career. She said she would pleased to join the band only if not required to rehearse. It emerged that she regarded herself as A Professional, and believed that true professionals didn’t need to rehearse, but only to familiarise themselves in the comfort and privacy of their homes with the material to be performed.

Blimey, I thought, as I get to on the strength of having lived in the UK 97 of the past 174 months.

I must make a mental note to renew my artistic licence in February. I have not failed to notice that it comes up for renewal coincident with Valentines Day every year, though I have stopped sending Valentines to my genius, owing to the fact that it never reciprocates, reminding me of the darkest day of my days as a pupil, when I received Valentines only when I had a teacher who required that anyone sending any must send them to all his or her classmates, and not just the cute ones. My guess is that Natasha – who is very skinny, with lank hair and a big nose — wouldn’t have received a great many Valentines herself at her primary school, as hers is the sort of beauty requiring the shrewd management that few learn before young adulthood.

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