Leaving my Mark

I always thought I’d be rich and famous by the time I was 30. I thought I’d be “discovered”. And here I am, entering my second half century, and still not there. Yes, I make some money out of my paintings, out of my music. But not enough to pay the mortgage. Not enough to give up my dayjob.

I no longer seek those things. I am very driven – but what drives me now is to make my mark, to leave something of real value behind. So that people after me can see that I’ve lived on this Earth, and made an impression. And that’s not the same as fame.

I have two boys. They are 20 and 15 respectively. They are growing up into confident young men. The oldest one is an extremely gifted mathematician, and he has an easy way with people which means that he will carve out a good living, and surround himself with friends. The younger of my sons is very creative. He writes endlessly – he wants to be a film director. He has a number of health issues, but I am very proud of his confidence and his ability to face the world come what may.

My boys, aged 15 and 10 in 2015

What I’m coming to realise is that I have left my mark. It’s there in my boys, in their belief that they can be anything, that they can achieve anything. Life may take them along strange and unexpected paths, but I’m glad they have that confidence that they will be able to navigate them in the following of their dreams.

I’ve also come to realise that in my teaching, I have inspired young people over the years to take up music as a profession. Indeed, some of them make more money out of it than I do. But that’s part of what I am able to leave.

And quite apart from that, there are homes all over the world which have a painting by a certain Adam Tucker hanging on the walls – and some homes have a number of them! Of course I could sell more. Of course I could be better at marketing. But I am already beginning to leave signs of my presence on this planet.

And my music graces people’s television screens all over the world. No, I’m not yet well known. But I have had comments from people from the other side of the world who have heard my music in something they have watched. That’s humbling.

And I realise that it’s not the size of your following, the size of your bank balance, which leaves a mark. It’s about lives which you touch on your journey through your own life. I have a lovely wife, wonderful sons, and I have the best of both worlds – I can create, and I can educate, and pass on my love of creating to the next generation.

So if I ever start to whinge about not being quite successful enough, will you poke me in the eye and remind me of what I am able to do? I am so very fortunate to be fulfilled in what i do, and I know that is a real blessing. Not everyone is as fortunate.

Creating the Theme for “The Hidden Shrine”

When I was commissioned to compose the music for this short TV film, I was told that it was a Victorian ghost story. How could I resist?! As I was sent snippets of the film as it was assembled, it became clear that this was a film about love and loss. At it’s heart, it is the story of a mother’s love, reaching out from beyond the grave to bring her wayward son back into the fold. So the theme needed to reflect that, as well as creating an eerie and unsettling tone.

So I think unconsciously, what I was actually working on was a lullaby of sorts. This is a piece which would work well being sung, wordless, by an almost unaccompanied female voice. I think it’s gentle classical language places it very much in the Victorian age (or at least as we tend to view it from our 21st century perspective). It’s Romantic in it’s harmonies and melodic leaps. Yet at the same time there are more modern nods to the language of contemporary thrillers and horror films. By placing a layer of string harmonics in it’s upper register, we experience a strange unease and the piece becomes ethereal, otherworldly. The piano ostinato anchors the melody down in a much-needed counterpart to this, yet at the same time gives it an inexorable feeling of fate, even of dread.

And then there is the melody. The shape is downward in the first half, and almost entirely upward in the second half. The effect of this is to first lull and then to energise. But then the very last two notes fall back down to the lower pitches, as if to crush hope once and for all. In addition, the first half is quite angular, with unusual interval falls. the second half, as the melody rises, is much more sinuous, much more flowing. That is, until the end of the melody, when the falling interval becomes angular yet again. Angular melodies can be quite unsettling, where graceful melodies floating upward might be said to represent positivity and hope. The message yet again seems to be – we are supposed to be unsettled, and though we may try to hope, in the end we will fall back down.

The theme tries to transform itself as it progresses. A fuller iteration in the orchestra, complete with a yearning line for the French horn (How I love that instrument!) however is not enough to quite dispel the unease, and the piece ends with a final bass note like a knell.