Melbourne based composer and cellist Francesca Mountfort has today released her latest project in Swift & Raven – a perfect example of her musicianship and her talent of fusing some gorgeous classical sounds with electronic elements at the same time. Stepping out from tradition and producing music that represents a boldness and impressive ambition – Mountfort takes us through Swift & Raven to introduce us to this unique album on a personal level.
“Swift & Raven”
I wrote this piece when I was in Prague. It was one of those compositions that come out really quickly, once I had come up with the main riff the melody just happened by playing along. “Swift & Raven” is a story about a migrating swift who is hunted in flight by a bird of prey, loses it’s flock and ends up dying of exhaustion at the foot of a Ravens tree. The Raven then leads the swift up into the sky and into the cosmos.
“My Droplet of Dancing Rain”
I wrote this piece in Melbourne. I was jamming a lot at the time with my good friend Luke Benge, who plays keys. We had an electronic/ambient duo at the time called Torvill & Dean. I was trying to work out some new music for us to jam on and ended up coming up with this piece. It’s about the purity and ephemeral beauty of a single raindrop before it hits a surface and is burst.
I wrote this when I was in Prague. It’s about what it felt like sitting on the side of a riverbank in the low afternoon sun where we were camped in the wilderness for a few days on Vancouver Island. I came up with the bass line when I got my cello out of it’s case to play when we were back in Prague after it had been on a flight. I always detune my cello to fly, and as I began to tune it up, I discovered it was sitting in a nice A-tuning. I started fooling around with the cello in this tuning and came up with “Conuma”, named after the river where we were camped and where I recorded the samples of the gulls and water.
I wrote this piece in Melbourne after I got some sweet new pedals, one that simulates an analogue tape echo. I was testing what kinds of sounds I could get out of my pedals and started playing the bass line that is now the main riff for “Cosmic Raven”. Usually I come up with melodies by playing, but the main melody for this song just came out of nowhere. This song is about the Raven spirit flying through the cosmos.
I wrote this when I was in Prague over the winter. I was inspired by all the gothic architecture and wanted to write a piece that expressed the feeling I had of being surrounded by all this dark but also uplifting medieval and renaissance art. “Karasu” is in the Dorian mode, and took a few months of playing and tailoring until I was happy with it. In developing our latest show, this piece has ended up being about the majesty of the Raven spirit.
The first ideas for this piece formed in Prague, after a few drinks fooling around on an old piano in a bar that had about three or four pianos in the one room that anyone could play. I finished the piece once I returned to Melbourne. I spent the winter of 2012-13 in Prague, and though I had a really fun time and met lots of wonderful and positive people, there is a dark undertone to the feeling of central Europe, from the gothic architecture to the culture and art and even some of the people. I suppose it comes from a tumultuous history. This piece is about that feeling.
I wrote this piece in Melbourne, but the audio samples were recorded one very early spring morning in a small village in the Czech Republic, the name I can’t remember now.. it’s about a conversation between blackbirds. Even though they may sing the same song, they each have a different way of expressing it. When it is performed live for my launch, it will be played by four cellists and two violists! The melody will be passed between players like a conversation.
I wrote this piece in Melbourne; it is about a millisecond stretched to infinity. The audio samples for this piece were recorded from the bells of a local herd of goats in a tiny village in Andalusia, Spain, where my father in-law lives in a cave house. This was the most technical composition process I’ve ever had, which I think you can hear from the music. After finding a series of notes that I liked, I then worked most of it out on paper, almost mathematically, though now I can’t really remember what I was thinking at the time…
“Prelude No. 2 in D minor”
I wrote this piece after my beautiful 160 year old cello was restored. This Prelude is inspired by one of my favourite composers, Tobias Hume, he composed predominantly for viola da gamba (my favourite instrument, I think I love it even more than the cello) during the early 17th Century. I think often I try to make my cello sound like a viola de gamba. One day I’m going to buy one!
“Prelude No. 3 in C Lydian”
I’ve written a few preludes now, they are a way of touching base with my classical roots. “Prelude No. 3” is an exploration of my favourite mode which is Lydian,which I think it has such a beautiful etherial quality, and is uplifting because it is a type of major scale. Adding the low C continuously makes it feel grounded and insistent. This piece is also about the tiny creatures of this world having a huge presence and influence on our lives but no voice that we can decipher.
Listen to Swift & Raven below and keep up to date with Francesca HERE.