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Why “Come On Eileen” Made Me Cry and other Musical Ramblings…

I’ve written quite a few serious articles recently, so I thought I’d write something a little more fun for a change, so if you’d like to know who my musical icon is, which composers social media I would recommend, why Come On Eileen made me cry and which composer I named my Guinea Pig after, read on…if not, normal, serious business shall resume later in the week.

Oh and by the way, if you click the playlist button below you will find a handpicked YouTube playlist with all the music I mention in this post (you’re welcome!) it’s an eclectic, random cocktail of music, you have been warned!


So click shuffle on the playlist and let’s get started!


Favourite Composers and their genres…

Classical and contemporary classical music Considering I’m about to embark on a music degree….you could say I’m a fan.

Top 3 Composers: – Karl Jenkins– I love the fusion of classical writing with African or Latin percussion and his choral harmony is absolutely breathtaking, in my opinion. ‘Stabat Mater’ is a masterpiece as is, ‘The Armed Man’.


Karl Jenkins

– Claude Debussy– My favourite Debussy is his ‘Sarabande Pour Le Piano’. I just love his atonal writing and there’s lots of twinkly-ness in this piece- so pretty! – John Mackey– I was introduced to this composer by a friend. His main composing focus seems to be wind band (which is ace)and his style of writing is right up my street. I feel he covers a whole spectrum of styles: some pieces are beautiful and ethereal such as ‘The Frozen Cathedral’, some are deeply expressive, like ‘Aurora Awakes’ and some are full of life, energy and rhythm like Asphalt Cocktail, but all create vivid imagery. Listening to a playlist of his music is like walking through an art gallery


John Mackey

and then stepping into each of the pictures (as you do). Each piece conjures a different scene with some pieces creating a different image each time I listen to it. I’m now a massive fan of his, he beat John Williams to this list! Plus his Instagram and Twitter feeds are rather entertaining, I would definitely recommend.


Rock Definite fan…as long as it’s decent, no screaming rubbish….well, ok tasteful screaming is acceptable.

Favourite artists


Freddie designed this signature crest album art.

– QUEEN!!– If I had to listen to one album on repeat for the rest of my life, it would be ‘A Night at the Opera’, there will never be a day when I don’t find it interesting. – Slash ft MylesKennedy– ‘Apocalyptic Love’ is one of my favourite albums. Their music is angry…in a weirdly sexy way…anyway,moving on! – Dream Theater– Rock virtuosos.

Metropolis Pt II

‘Metropolis Part 2- Scenes From a Memory’, I would basically describe as a rock opera, filled with drama and angst, similar to Queen their music is complex yet has the listenabilty (not a word, but it should be!) of the more straighforward rock band. My cornet teacher, Iain introduced me to the album and it changed my whole perspective on the genre.


Pop Meh…hit and miss, not a massive fan of today’s chart pop… except a few. Love anything from 60s to 80s. Partial to a few cheesy hits from the noughties. Bieber is the devil.

Favourite artists: – Mcfly– I pretend I’m too mature for these now, but there’s going to be a new tour and I can’t promise I won’t buy tickets…I’m not over them.


Karl Jenkins

– Christina Aguilera (yes, really….candyman is a classic) – Jessie J- Fierce women doing it for themselves…and all that. – George Michael- WAKE ME UP BEFORE YOU GO GO!! Need I say more? – Billy Ocean- Feel-good, beer-in-the-sun-type music, is how I would describe my feelings on his music. – Stevie Wonder- If I could find a man as beautiful as his voice, I’d marry it and his inclusion of brass is ace- just listen to Sir Duke!


Jazz/ Swing/Big band

I thought I knew this genre(s)…well the shiny, mainstream Glenn Miller side of it. Then a combination of watching the film Whiplash (which is brilliant by the way you should watch it) , a trip to The Jazz Bar in Edinburgh (which is well worth a visit!) and being given some well educated advice from a friend to ditch them and listen to some proper stuff, caused me to do some research into some proper jazz music…. how naive I had been.

Favourite Artists/Composers


Maynard Ferguson

– Maynard Ferguson-His version of ‘Birdland’ is just so satisfying, there are no words. – Duke Ellington-This guy is a genius, still discovering a lot of his music and fast becoming a fan. –Wynton Marsalis-Both an amazing cornet player and a superb jazz trumpet player. Would highly recommend you check out his cover of ‘Sweet Georgia Brown’ and ‘Carnival of Venice’ to see just how versatile this musician is. – Post Modern Jukebox-Founded by pianist and arranger Scott Bradlee who has collaborated with over 70 artists to create well known pop tunes into vintage style catchy, classy songs. They even made ‘Love Yourself’ by Bieber sound like a classy 1920’s ditty. Absolute genius!!


Modern mashup- Gaga meets Gatsby

– Michael Buble-I know this completely goes against what I just said…but Buble is a babe. Unfortunately I find he’s kind of a pointless artist if you’re single… George Gershwin: ‘Rhapsody in Blue’ is one of my favourite pieces of music of all time. I just love the big band sound of early musicals. Gershwin was a master of anything he turned his hand to, he can’t be categorised and teamed with his brother Ira, whether it is a grand overture or small sweet love ditty, their music and style is uplifting, expressive and holds interest from beginning to end.


Brass band/ Brass Fusion There are so many banders I know that wouldn’t voluntarily listen to music from our own genre. In all fairness we spend at least 4 hours a week rehearsing it together, so it’s understandable why so many of us are quite happy to listen to literally anything else other than brass music. Me on the other hand, I love anything with a brass sound in it, even some crappy pop songs I’ll admit I like just because there happened to be brass involved. Well, I’ve spent nearly 13 years of my life playing brass music, if I didn’t like it I don’t think I would have lasted this long….

Favourite Brass Band pieces/Composers:


Paul Lovatt-Cooper

‘Immortal’– Paul Lovatt-Cooper: Now this is going to make me look really sad, I liked his music so much I named my Guinea pig, Cooper, after him (reason why I’m single no. 276: names pets after brass band composers). This piece shows both sonorous melody writing (the cornet solo is quite simply beautiful)) and technical passages which evoke excitement and adrenaline. I enjoy both playing and listening to his music, it’s pretty whilst complex enough to keep me interested, but not too complex that it files under the tedious music-lacking, pyrotechnic style that seems to be popular of late…just my opinion, I know there are some who don’t agree…and their opinion is wrong (jokes! Calm down!).

‘Year of the Dragon’ by Philip Sparke: One of my favourite


Phillip Sparke

brass band composers. This was one of the first pieces, for me, that showed off brass music as being more than the cheesy theme tunes, hymns and marches I’d started out playing. It was music that actually made me feel a range of emotions and motivated

me to push my playing in order to master this standard of music as it took some real skill to play (especially the infamous last movement!)


Peter Graham

‘The Torchbearer’– Peter Graham: This was chosen as the area piece for the championship section last year, some of the quiet sections (when played well) gave me goosebumps. His melody writing can be stunning, one of my favourites being ‘A Time for Peace’, which was the featured solo in ‘The Essence of Time’ test piece.

Resurgam– Eric Ball: The first area test piece I ever played, (back when I was bottom third cornet in Second Section, those were the


Eric Ball

days) and it has remained one of my favourite pieces of all time. It’s written in a style where the real challenge is to perform a piece with passion, drama and emotion rather than be a semi-quaver show off. Simply stunning writing.

Other favourites include: Dean Goffin, Edward Gregson, Simon Dobson and Peter Meechan...but I already appreciate this post is beginning to get a little lengthy…

Favourite bands


Youngblood Brass Band

– Youngblood Brass Band:A mix of brass and hip hop, these guys are cool. I watched these guys live in Manchester last year and I can honestly say it was one of the best gigs I’ve ever been to. – Hackney Colliery Band: brass ensemble with a pop/rock sound. They’re new album Sharpener, I’ve had on repeat since it’s release and I love their cover of ‘Africa’ by


Hackney Colliery Band

Toto. I’ve yet to see these guys live, but I hope to soon! –Mnozil Brass: Check out ‘Blue’by this group and ‘Lonely Boy’. A combination of pure talent and comedy. Their original pieces are catchy and their arrangements of traditional pieces and popular songs are epic. They’re another group I can’t wait to


Mnozil Brass

see live. Dirty Dozen Brass Band: Another cool brass fusion band. Check out ‘Blackbird Special’, seriously catchy stuff! Lettuce: Brass meets funk with a bit of hip hop. ‘Squadlive’ is my favourite track of theirs, it’s so catchy…I challenge you not to dance along.

Now if I was writing this last year I’d have no issues with listing my favourite brass bands…but considering I find myself playing against the bands I admired as a youngster, in the British Open this year (still not sunk in yet), it seems a bit weird to admire them the same way I used to, it’s more of a healthy rivalry now. More importantly, I find myself in the fortunate position of playing in a band that maybe, just maybe, possibly, might have been at the top of my list of favourites not that long ago…it’s funny how life works.


I see a little silhouetto of a man…

Favorite artist/band: Easy. Queen! There are few bands that I would happily binge-listen to whole albums one after the other and enjoy pretty much every single track…except for maybe their Hot Space album, that was a bit of a mistake. They’re a band that can approach every genre and create a musical masterpiece in that genre, from opera to heavy rock to country to big emotional ballads. They were the first band that touched me on an emotional level, and introduced me to popular music that wasn’t just the cheesy teen music I was listening to at the time, but music with real thought and talent involved. Their music has stood the test of time and will continue to do so, as they didn’t just write songs, they wrote anthems.


Musical Icon There are two:


“I won’t be a rock star. I will be a legend”

Freddie Mercury– Most people just think of him as just a charismatic showman, but in reality he was an amazing musician. He was only trained to grade 4 piano apparently but if you listen to the piano parts on the A Night at the Opera album, you can see the extent of his talent as a musician. Not only would he compose his own piano parts he would compose the basis for some of Brian May’s guitar solos, for example some of the solos in ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, in order to get the right style. There are very few people in the world that can say they have a voice as good as Freddie Mercury, for me no one stands close, he’s a vocal powerhouse. Being a fan of so many genres including classical and operatic music, he was probably one of the most cultured rock stars in existence, and his music shows this.



Sergei Nakariakov- I’m greatly inspired by this Russian trumpet player…and it may be possible that I admire more than just his playing (he may or may not have been my iPad background for more than I care to admit…). When I have very little motivation for practise I listen to a few of his recordings, such as his rendition of the ‘Arutunian Trumpet Concerto’ (which is bloody awesome by the way!) and it’s enough to get me thinking that if I don’t stop being a lazy sod and go practise, I’m never going to sound anywhere near as good as him. His lyrical playing is absolutely mesmerising, and I, being a musician who favours melody playing, take great inspiration from his musicality and style. His version of ‘Meditation from Thais’, will always be one of my favourite trumpet recordings as his sound and articulation is so smooth it sounds like a string instrument. I’m sorry, I just love him…


Favourite song My all time favourite song is Somebody to Love by Queen…but my current favourite song changes every other day. At the moment the songs that are constantly on repeat are I”m On My Way’ by The Proclaimers and ‘Love Really Hurts Without You’ by Billy Ocean, both songs are currently on repeat. There isn’t anything in particular that I love about them, they’re just upbeat, dancy kind of songs that are good to belt out in the shower.


Significant Song: Again I couldn’t choose just one…

‘Come On Eileen’ by Dexy’s Midnight Runners: This song was on the soundtrack to The Perks of Being a Wallflower film and my best mate Lorna bought the vinyl soundtrack which we often listened to when we were getting ready to go out, and for some reason we took a particular shining to this song, so it’s now become our song. Since Lorna left for uni, we found it a bit weird not spending everyday together (well I know I definitely did, Lorna probably would have appreciated the peace and quiet) and I remember having a little bit of a cry when this song came on my iPod and Lorna had gone away to uni. Now this could have been justified if she had gone to study in Bristol or Wales that’s quite far away…but Lorna moved to Salford and I saw her at least once a month…I guess it a was a case of missing the person who is on my level of bonkers…there aren’t many of those in the world.

Film Title: Mamma Mia!


Slipping through My Fingers by Abba (but the Mamma Mia! Version): Although it’s cheesy, Mamma Mia is a surprisingly significant film for my mum and I, for one particular scene which never fails to make us sob into our Morisson’s own brand ready-mixed cosmopolitan cocktails. The scene where Donna reminisces over her daughter,Sophie’s, childhood days as she helps Sophie dress for her wedding whilst preparing herself for the moment her child leaves the nest into her own life, is far more poignant now, as my move to Manchester grows ever closer, with the date being less than a month now. This song hits home the fact that, (holy crap) I’m growing up and I have to learn to be an adult with responsibilities and it’s going to be a challenge…but I can do it because I’m lucky to have two incredibly supportive parents that are going to be the right distance away to let me spread my wings…but close enough that I can swoop home whenever I need that helping hand or a shoulder to cry on….or my washing needs doing.

Wow, we’re getting deep here…


Is music important? Very.I’m currently writing an article about this to post very soon as I feel music is being disregarded as a pointless pastime, that is being pushed further and further out of the education system, which is an absolute travesty. I was a shy child and music brought me out of my shell and gave me something to focus on and since working in a school for a year I can see a similar effect that music has on children who don’t necessarily fit in the restrictive box, the education system in this country tries to shove every child in. If you take away music, you take away an incredibly valid opportunity for many children.

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