Phamie Gow's music: The Stone Dance of the Chameleon
I have been friends with Phamie since 2002. She was only 22 years old when I met her, but had already recorded two CDs of her own compositions. She sings and plays various instruments, but it was her mastery of the clarsach (Celtic harp) that caught my ear.
At some point I got the idea of asking her to write a piece for my website. My initial notion was that she should produce something like the court music which the sybling Quenthas play in The Chosen. Of course, the Quenthas were conjoined twins and thus, to emulate the effect of their four hands playing simultaneously, Phamie would have had to overlay two separate tracks. Fortunately, when I actually came to make the commission I had the sense to let her do her own thing. I merely asked her to listen to some William Byrd virginal music, some Bach and some Toumani Diabate - a genius of the kora, a traditional instrument from Mali.
When Phamie invited me to spend a couple of days with her at a cottage in Galloway, Scotland, I arrived to find that she had composed her first impression of what she chose to name The Stone Dance of the Chameleon. Though beautiful, I felt this only a beginning. I revealed to her some of the deeper themes that underlie my books as well as the importance of the division of the work into three parts, and how the number three plays a critical role. I went off to cook dinner. When I returned she had already, miraculously, produced two more themes to add to the first - each having at its core a triple of notes in which either the first, second or third are stressed.
The piece evolved through more collaborative meetings in which we shaped her ideas so that the piece would resonate more closely with the structure of my story. One day she came and played what essentially was the finished work.
I have to confess that, early on, I quickly lost hold of my original goal. The delight that I derived from collaborating with such a talented musician became an end in itself. The result is far grander than anything I had ever envisaged. It is a pleasure to be able to share Phamie's masterpiece with you...