A new blog from songwriter and composer Gareth Williams about performing at Paisley Book Festival
What do stories mean to me?
As a songwriter/composer, I’ve tended to respond to words and stories – the songs I write usually start in someone else’s head, and they weren’t always intended to be songs! So, my practice sometimes involves sitting at my piano looking for songs in scripts, plays, libretti, or in books.
For the last two years I’ve set myself the challenge of making a song entirely from the final page of the books that I have loved reading.
By finding a song on the last page, I try to hold onto that spell we all know only too well as readers, that moment we come to the end of the story. I’ve tried to make that final line linger in the air, so that we can spend just a few extra moments in the company of those characters we have come to know and care about – from Sherlock Holmes to Peter Pan and Wendy.
At Paisley Book Festival this Saturday, I’ll present some of these songs in an hour-long concert. All of these brand-new songs are found in the works of our nation’s favourite writers – including Arthur Conan Doyle, Alasdair Gray, Ali Smith, Jackie Kay, Andrew Greig, Ely Percy, and many more.
With fellow musicians, cellist Justyna Jablonska and violinist Aisling O’Dea, we’ll be giving a heart-warming musical celebration of Scottish fiction, and exploring with the audience, what it is about our favourite stories that makes them lodge so firmly in our hearts. Like the books themselves, our songs draw out beats that are poignant and wistful, joyous and exhilarating, romantic and tragic.
As a companion event to performing as the Festival Finale act, I’ll also be leading a practical song writing session earlier in the day. In this workshop we will share and exchange ideas about song writing – how we make our songs, and where we can search for them amongst our own stories and memories, and amongst the stories we read.
I ask that each participant brings one book, and their imagination, and we will work together to find some brand-new songs over the course of this session. There’s no song writing experience necessary, although if you do have some song writing experience, you’re encouraged to bring your instrument or your singing voice!
I look forward to meeting you all soon – Gareth
Songs from the Last Page: Song Writing workshop – Book now!
Song from the Last Page: Festival Finale – Book now!
(Use the code FINALE at checkout to take advantage of half price tickets!)