Saturday, July 11, 2015


Chez moi on the 5th of July, Dick Jones, Doug McGowan and I rehearsed together for the first time the presentation we gave the next evening at the London Review Bookshop in Bloomsbury. Both occasions went off amazingly well, considering the somewhat unpredictable elements of the audio-visual programme which consisted of the following three components:

A live reading by Dick of Cendrars' entire poem.
Accompanied by Doug on guitar, playing his own composition based on the poem.
Both of the above synchronised to a slideshow of all my illustrations of the poem, plus some added visuals.

 The main difficulty when I was preparing the video was to time the sequence of images to coincide as closely as possible with the spoken words and the music. With the software I was using, much careful tweaking was needed to establish the duration of each image and the transitions flowing one image into the next, but eventually everything came together really well and we were amply rewarded for all our efforts by the audience's enthusiastic appreciation. Doug was able to improvise and subtly adapt his playing to any changes and Dick's reading was always with feeling, con brio, neither over-done or under-stated.

If there is a record for posterity of this event it is entirely due to the kindness of Bill Garnett who volunteered to film it and was there, everywhere, with his camera and camcorder. The photo below is by Bill and more of his wonderful pictures of guests milling about in the bookshop before the performance are on his Pomegranate page on FaceBook. If possible, I'll post his video of our 30 minute performance when I receive it but it will be a very big file so I'll have to find out where best to upload it.


Jean said...
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Jean said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jean said...

It was wonderful - the video, music and reading all outstanding and the whole thing was spellbinding! Adding recorded music and reading to the video would make such a superb poetry film, and I so very much hope there will be more live performances.

Natalie d'Arbeloff said...

Thank you Jean, I'm so glad you were there.
I am planning to put the final soundtrack (live reading + live music) onto the video but that will have to be done in another step. Everything takes more time and is more complex than it appears! But it's good when the result looks effortless!

Ellena said...

Chez toi on the 5th of July confirms that I'm doing nothing.
Keep going and stay well dear Natalie.

Natalie d'Arbeloff said...

Doing nothing? Being everything! You're here and I'm always so glad to see you, chère Ellena.

Roderick Robinson said...

Very courageous saying both occasions went off amazingly well - was it some inner feeling that told you? I misread your post first time round, imagining you had done the reading, then found myself loth to delete what I'd written as comment.

So, for the sake of parsimony I shall turn my initial assumption into a question and hope that what follows can be cannily conserved. Thus: are you satisfied with the recorded version of your own voice? If so, that puts you in a very small minority; most people - even those who live in the south-east and are under the impression that everyone speaks the way they do (or, if not, should) - aren't charmed with the way they sound.

Pure vanity, of course. The expectation is usually for something grander, more heroic, more richly harmonic, more noble; the reality is something pettifoggingly local. As I think I mentioned, I belong to the dissatisfied majority. I first heard myself recorded when I was still in my teens when the West Riding whine was quite unhindered. I allowed decades to slide by without wishing to hear myself again. Now I find my accent overlaid by the effects of many many years spent in and around London, plus six in Pennsylvania, and it resembles a cake that has failed to rise; a person trying but failing to overcome narcolepsy.

I have said before how much I envy you your surname although nothing comes for nothing. Were I Roderick d'Arbeloff I recognise that would be a lot to live up to: a hint of White Russian antecedents, a shareholding in a vodka distilling company, author of a memoir about Rasputin. Two or three years spent racing a privately-owned F1 car. I would need to lie a lot better than I do presently.

Obviously I am affected by the name (and even more by the apostrophe). The minute I park myself here, I run off at the mouth. When actually I'm quite taciturn.

Natalie d'Arbeloff said...

Robbie, every time you venture to comment here I wish that you did so more often. Your brand of dissatisfaction (grumpiness?) is always entertaining, sometimes enlightening and unfailingly provocative...(in a good way) which demands fulsome response or counter-argument. Your journalistic training no doubt, but I suspect it's second nature to you.

My recorded voice didn't feature in this production at all but if you want to hear what it sounds like, there are recent samples of moi reading (in Portuguese and Spanish)at Via Negativa's Other Americas project here:
(click on the Audio button)
I don't mind my recorded voice, probably because it sounds younger than I am, but I'd prefer a husky Marlene Dietrich intonation.

As for our presentation: there was no pre-recording. The actual event on 6th July at the London Review Bookshop consisted of Dick Jones' live reading of his translation of Cendrars' poem, accompanied by original music composed and played by Doug McGowan on guitar, synchronised to a video (by me) of all my images for the book flowing one into the other (arrived at by much technical tweaking in iMovie and other software). The whole thing lasted about 30 minutes and was, by all accounts, a resounding success. Someone was filming the proceedings and if this turns out okay we'll be able to share it.

Hattie said...

Congratulations. How thrilling it all must be,to be sure. Makes me wish,as I do sometimes, that I did not live on the margins of Westciv.
Those are handsome men at your place. I like your decor too.

Natalie d'Arbeloff said...

Hattie, my decor is all DIY and goes through many changes over time, including sudden impulses to paint something on a wall, Minimal it ain't!