This may well prove to have been the hottest weekend. Some of the walking was hilly demanding substantial effort even though these weren't the longest sections along the dyke. As always, the scenery was beautiful and exceptionally varied. The pic here is probably the best I've taken of the dyke itself. We're now into the nitty gritty of the book, involving acoustics, mythology of music and the musical cosmos. It's becoming headier but the experience is even more rewarding.
Glorious wandering-minstrel walking, Hay to Kington characterised by sheep along the drovers' way, then Kington to Knighton with long, long stretches of the dyke itself. These sections cover early English music with contrapuntalist John Dunstable and then dissolution and reformation from Henry VIII to Elisabeth I, involving Tallis, Byrd and Purcell. The 'land without music' - pa!
Meet my traveling companion.
Another Ramblings About Music walk coming up this weekend, 24 miles over two days, Hay to Knighton. I'll be on my own for this one but am looking forward to what could potentially be fabulous walks. Before arriving at Knighton, I'm particularly looking forward to the walk across Hergest Ridge, inspiration for a Mike Oldfield 'LP'.
Musical topics are early English music and the musical disaster inflicted by the Reformation and the Dissolution of the Monasteries.
Just completed a magnificent third walk, from Pandy to Hay-on-Wye. The topic for this section is 'Harmony'. The route is along the Black Mountains; the main section is the eleven-mile Hatterall Ridge, with huge views into Wales on one side and England on the other. All the way along the ridge we were given a lesson in music by skylarks whose song tumbled down on us throughout the walk.
Chapter 2 of Ramblings About Music, 'From Pythagoras to Dr Who' now up and running. Walk 3 - from Pandy to Hay on Wye takes place this Sunday. The weather is looking good and the subject for musical ramblings is 'Harmony'.
The first two walks have now been completed and a photo record plus first chapter text (‘What is Music?’) uploaded. This is proving to be a remarkable experience. I was doubtful and a little nervous about if and how this ‘ramblings about music’ project would work, but walking loosens the tongue so we have been able to chat at length about a wide range of musical thoughts and develop these ideas, while accompanied all the way by a beautiful countryside backdrop. The first walk (Chepstow to Monmouth) was characterised by hillside woodland with spectacular views along the Wye Valley; the second (Monmouth to Pandy) by rolling pastureland, sheep, streams, tiny villages and Norman castles; the next will be a walk up onto the Black Mountains (Pandy to Hay-on-Wye), with its ridge views down into England on one side and Wales on the other. The musical topic for this, scheduled for the 15th of June, will be ‘Harmony and Discord’.
On our second walk the topic we explored was about attitudes to music from ancient to modern times – from Pythagoras and his mysticism to the high-tech BBC sound lab. creators of the Dr Who theme. We determined to delve into some lesser known features. Pythagoras, for example, known for his maths (right-angled triangles, squares on hypotenuses, etc.) had an influence on music that extended right up until the 17th century, with his ideas about using musical harmony to describe how our planetary system and the universe ‘works’. We talked about the influence of religious institutions on music, folk music, its links with rural life and later jazz improvisation and finally, in recent times the revolutionary changes that technology and the internet have wrought. Music is no longer what it used to be and is still changing with great rapidity – the way it is produced, how it is performed, how we listen.
All the way, as we walk and talk, we are keeping our eyes open for unusual wildlife and history in the landscape. On this most recent walk, for example, we explored the Norman ‘White Castle’, found a Purple Hairstreak butterfly and later, at the ancient church, St Cadoc’s in Llangattock, a Lesser Horseshoe Bat and a fabulously carved rood beam. 125 miles to go.
From Monmouth to Pandy, about 17 miles and the topic is some off-the beaten-track history, from Pythagoras to Dr Who. There's a gap in the rainy weather so it looks like a good walking day in prospect.
This was a great walk, Chepstow to Monmouth, about 17 miles, chatting about the overall ramblings music project and getting a feel for the dyke. Next one is in three weeks time covering Monmouth to Pandy and an overview of the history of western music.
Weather is looking good, dry and cool. 18 miles to walk through the Wye Valley, so could be a few blisters by the evening. First walk along Offa's Dyke starts at Chepstow. Chatting about music and promoting 'Mindsong'.
If you would like to join one of the walks as part of Ramblings About Music, check the dates for each section then contact us for details about exactly when and where. The Dyke walk is a wonderful path, soaked in history and nature.