Class from hell….
Probably lacking any real work to give give us, the teacher of that class asked us to draw a picture of an aeroplane. Any type, real or imagined. He probably considered this a pleasant task, a nice alternative to setting an English comprehension exercise or a maths quiz.
To my shuddering horror, however, I realised that I was unable to complete the task. I knew of course what an aeroplane was, but couldn’t form an image that I could translate onto the paper. Eventually, I had to resort to copying the design of the pupil sitting next to me.
Understanding my defeat
Rather than making me never want to hear the word ‘aeroplane’ again, I found myself wanting to understand the the thing that had defeated me. I went home and scoured my parents’ library for picture of planes, I asked for books about planes, watched programmes about them and, most of all, I would draw pictures of them.
A lifelong passion
A determination not to be caught out again turned the object that tortured me into a lifelong passion. When I was a little bit older, the passion manifested itself as a desire to become a pilot in the RAF. I even briefly joined the air cadets, with this object in mind. By that time, however, a much stronger passion, that of music, had overtaken my life. This and the realisation that I was not really cut out for military service—I was too sensitive a creature—made me abandon this ambition.
A project is born
I never lost my passion for aviation, however. It was therefore the most natural thing in the world for me to channel this passion into my composing work. Instead of drawing pictures on the page, I can draw pictures in sound. I hope the results are better than the faltering attempt of my seven-year-old self.
The project, like many of those on this site, is ongoing. I will add pieces when inspiration comes. Perhaps, at some point in the future, I will select the best of these into a proper ‘suite’. Either way this page will chart how the project progresses. Check back to see how I’m getting on and, by all means, leave a comment or message me if you have any suggestions!
Most pieces are available for the following instruments (each with piano accompaniment):
Flute, clarinet, alto saxophone, French horn, trumpet, trombone, violin and cello.
List of pieces
Take to the skies in the Wright Flyer, the first successful powered aircraft, flown by Orville and Wilbur Wright in 1903 at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.
A dramatic piece celebrating the brave pilots who risk their lives in air-to-air combat.
‘Rack ’em, pack ‘em and stack ‘em’! A repeating chordal pattern suggests the endless circling of planes as they await permission to land.
Celebrating the raw energy of jet flight!
A piece that celebrates cruising aboard that most majestic of airliners, the Boeing 747, also known as the ‘Queen of the Skies’. Part of ‘A History of Powered Flight’, a suite of pieces inspired by aviation history.