Hello everyone I am delighted to announce that I have the honour to once again be part of a Jim Webster Blog Tour . This time we are invited to investigate Tallis Steelyard . Deep Waters And Other Stories. and . Tallis Steelyard Playing The Game And Other Stories .
Here is the route of the blog tour.
A significant gesture
Monday 8th April
An eye to the future
Tuesday 9th April
Wednesday 10th April
Getting rich moderately rapidly
Thursday 11th April
In tune with the Zeitgeist
Learning a role
Saturday 13th April
Sunday 14th April
Monday 15th April
Annette Rochelle Aben
Tuesday 16th April
No strutting or fretting
Wednesday 17th April
Something of the night?
Thursday 18th April
The civilising influence of Betta Thrang.
Saturday 20th April
Sunday 21st April
In tune with the Zeitgeist
I have mentioned musicians in the past, and I apologise for doing so again.
Normally the musicians I deal with are those performers who play their instruments at the events I am brought in to stage manage. They are sadly predictable, drinking anything that isn’t locked up and seducing anybody who isn’t strictly chaperoned.
Yet there is another level of musician; those who compose the music. These individuals probably stand to performing musicians as a great playwright stands to the actors who mangle his words and murder his syntax. This higher class of musician is a far more sophisticated beast than the mere performer.
They’re also far more diverse. Some of them seem to hide away in garrets, almost as if they were novelists, before emerging blinking into the daylight, bearing their next masterpiece before them like a shield. I confess I have some sympathy for these. Unlike novelists they don’t churn out inordinately lengthy works which can waste weeks of one’s life. After all even the longest and most dire opera is unlikely to last more than five hours. A bad novel can apparently last forever.
Then there are those who both write music and perform it. These seem to fall into two subsets. There is the older, more mature performer. They can be male or female and are true masters of their chosen instrument. Sitting through one of their performances can be a humbling experience. One feels vaguely honoured that one who has achieved such mastery has condescended to let you, in some small way, share in it. Often one is left with the feeling that they write their own music because nobody else can create anything
which challenges them.
Then there is the younger performer. For choice these are attractive young women with excellent voices who write and perform pleasant enough songs which suit their age and vocal range. I cannot vouch for their artistic merit but they always elicit enthusiastic applause. If you pick an appropriate audience, an attractive young man with similar accomplishments can do very well.
To be honest, if I manage to inveigle any performer who writes their own music to one of the soirees I oversee, I feel I have done my best for my patron. They can rest assured that the evening will be memorable.
Yet even in music there are rivalries and jealousies. Even worse, there are fashions which inexplicably sweep through society. So this week, a certain attractive young lady with a fine voice singing the pleasant songs she wrote herself will be all the rage. A fortnight later I might suggest booking her only to discover my patron struggles to remember her name. Suddenly the artist has moved from being fashionable to forgotten.
Indeed I have come to the conclusion that for the singer-songwriter things are harder than for poets. Whilst a poet is only ever as good as their last body of work; the work seems to somehow last. For the singer, everything seems to transient.I always felt sorry for Clarisina Errund. A delightful young woman with great charm and a definite gift when it came to playing keyboard and other instruments, she struggled to achieve the recognition she deserved.
Obviously young ladies in her circle were not really expected to have to work, but between ourselves, the money Clarisina earned from the sales of her sheet music were her dress allowance. Her widower father struggled to cope with failing health and a failing business, and whilst he could just about keep his daughter fed and housed, clothing her was beyond him.
She wrote beautiful melodies, but when she was invited to perform, people would listen to the tune and comment that they’d heard somebody else play that a week previously. Indeed on one occasion she sang as she played, only to be told by the hostess that she preferred the other words to the tune.
It was on one of these occasions that she smiled gamely, retired to the next room and burst into tears. I was present at the time and hastened to comfort her and asked her what the problem was. Apparently somebody was stealing her tunes.
This is indeed serious. But what to do about it?It seems that because of the general poverty of her family, they couldn’t afford to own a spinet and so when she was working on a tune she had to do so at the houses of various friends. It appears that others were taking advantage of this, listening to what she was creating, and noting it down and using it. This was a problem, but how to overcome it.
She mentioned that a young gentleman, a Rayand Hublank, had been supportive and had encouraged her in her work. Apparently he’d sat with her as she composed music. It appears that young Rayand was proud owner of a spinet and was quite an accomplished player. Obviously she could work at his house, but given he was a single man living on his own, propriety would be outraged if she were there on her own. Given that she suspected some of her female friends were party to the theft of her tunes she couldn’t invite them to chaperone her. To me the answer was obvious. I would be chaperone and could get on with some of my own work at the same time. Rayand was approached and proved almost embarrassingly enthusiastic to be part of the project. Thus and so, we met together to consider the matter and to come up with a plan of campaign.Things started innocuously enough. Clarisina had in mind a light and frothy little tune. It was a mere nothing really, pleasant, catchy, and adequate.
This she ‘composed’ in the presence of Rayand in the house of a friend, when
numerous other people were coming and going.
But then at Rayand’s house she got down to the serious work. To this first
tune she interwove a second and then a third, producing something of quite amazing complexity and beauty. Then in a moment of pure genius, she
conceived of a fourth melody line which wove in and out of the other three.
Rayand and I listened to all four melodies and we were completely won over.
The problem was that it was impossible for one person to play all four simultaneously on the same instrument. Clarisina tried but although she is accomplished, there is a limit to what she could achieve. Rayand dismissed the problem, told her to sleep on it and to return next day, refreshed, and the problem would solve itself.
I’m not sure she believed him, but she did as he recommended. Next day when the pair of us returned, it was to find workmen carrying a second spinet into the drawing room and placing it next to the first. Hastily Clarisina reworked the piece so it could be played by two people on two instruments and the pair of them set to practicing.
My own part was nominal. Other than being there to ensure decorum (Imagine, bringing in a poet to ensure decorum, you might as well leave a dog to guard your dinner.) I got on with my own work. But after the fifth day of practice the tune was going round and round in my head and finally the words I were writing twisted to fit the music. I stopped my two companions, told them to start from the beginning, and then sang the words as they played. Clarisina announced that this was the way forwards, and the words became part of the whole.
Obviously I was still working at various houses during the evenings and as I rather expected, Clarisina’s little tinkling song was doing the rounds, being quite popular amongst the undiscerning. After hearing it the seventh time, I suggested to my patron, the Widow Handwill, that I could find somebody better. Being the lady she is; she took me up on it immediately.
She and her guests were surprised when we struggled in carrying a second spinet. Still they waited for us to start, and Clarisina did, playing the tune that had started it all, and which had been stolen. One or two people even commented in a derogatory manner about this. The good Widow glared at them, and I halted the performance and said, “Oh, that little piece. Yes, somebody overheard Clarisina working on it and stole it. But this evening you are going to be the first people to hear the entire work.”
That rather silenced them, and I turned to our two performers and signalled
for them to start.
To be fair, I think it went very well. Clarisina played her tinking little piece. Then Rayand added in the second tune. I started to sing, and Clarisina added in the third tune and joined me in song. Finally Rayand brought in the fourth tune and added his voice to ours. We were met with rapturous applause.
Obviously with a success like this on their hands, our young composer and other fellow instrumentalist had to keep practising and performing. Eventually I was forced speak firmly to them.“Clarisina, Rayand, I have to tell you that I cannot keep on being chaperone. I have my own work to do and my own patrons to flatter.”
Clarisina looked worried. “So what can we do?”
I turned to Rayand. “Well if you got down on your knees and begged her to marry you, it would solve any number of issues.”
Fortunately that is a hint even a musician can grasp.
And the hard sell.
So welcome back to Port Naain. This blog tour is to celebrate the genius of Tallis Steelyard, and to promote two novella length collections of his
So meet Tallis Steelyard, the jobbing poet from the city of Port Naain. This great city is situated on the fringes of the Land of the Three Seas. Tallis makes his living as a poet, living with his wife, Shena, on a barge tied to
a wharf in the Paraeba estuary. Tallis scrapes a meagre living giving poetry readings, acting as a master of ceremonies, and helping his patrons run their soirees.
These are his stories, the anecdotes of somebody who knows Port Naain and its denizens like nobody else. With Tallis as a guide you’ll meet petty criminals and criminals so wealthy they’ve become respectable. You’ll meet
musicians, dark mages, condottieri and street children. All human life is here, and perhaps even a little more.
Tallis Steelyard, Deep waters, and other stories.
More of the wit, wisdom and jumbled musings of Tallis Steelyard. Discover
the damage done by the Bucolic poets, wonder at the commode of Falan Birling, and read the tales better not told. We have squid wrestling, lady writers, and occasions when it probably wasn’t Tallis’s fault. He even asks the great question, who are the innocent anyway?
And then there is;-
Tallis Steelyard. Playing the game, and other stories.
More of the wit, wisdom and jumbled musings of Tallis Steelyard. Marvel at the delicate sensitivities of an assassin, wonder at the unexpected revolt
of Callin Dorg. Beware of the dangers of fine dining, and of a Lady in red.
Travel with Tallis as his poetical wanderings have him meandering through
the pretty villages of the north. Who but Tallis Steelyard could cheat death by changing the rules?
If you want to see more of the stories from the Land of the Three Seas, some of them featuring Tallis Steelyard, go to my Amazon page at
Tallis even has a blog of his own at
Do check out Tallis Steelyard’s world. That you will find it as captivating as I have, I have no doubt.