The Conchordia Folio: An Update
After taking a relatively long break since my last completed Conchord – the Siege of Gozo, composed in Malta in November-December 2020 – the composition of the Folio has resumed. I have just begun the first scenes of the Madchester trilogy, which will be the 14th, 15th & 16th conchords of the 39. It seem’d an apt place to rest after the Gozo concord, the 13th, reaching the natural third-way point in the attempt to emulate Shakespeare’s canonical 39 plays.
So what happens when you give yourself to the muses & ask their help in such a grand project as the Conchordia Folio. In my case, after completing the aforemention’d first third, it was time to leave my Edinburgh base & see where the wings of my pegasus shall fly. This was in early March of 2021, & exactly four months later I found myself living in a lovely property own’d by a lover of poetry, sited on a lovelier Scottish island, & opening a wee bookshop to fill with, well, books. The latter would then be opening many a fresh vista for the lore-learning & allusion-making that shall enrich my procession through the next third of the Folio.
It has taken seven months to settle into a psyche fit for the demanding intellective rigors of Conchordia composition, during which period I completed an epic ballad cycle, so the poetry kept flowing, & to a fairly high standard I feel.
By February 2021 – now – I intend to compose scene of the Folio most mornings, finishing by ten at the latest, & spending the rest of the day being a poet at semi-leisure, but spending some time on research for my composition notes, aware that in just a few hours after a decent sleep I shall be composing a new scene. There is an element of combining two poetical periods here. One is the Byronic Don Juan period, where he just set off composing stanza after stanza & canto after canto – he got to 16 or 17 before going off to fund an army in the Greek War of Independence against the Turks, before dying of malaria & leech-bleeding at Missolonghi. The other is the Miltonic composition of Paradise Lost, where the blind poet’s daughter would act as his amanuensis every morning after Milton composed his poetry in his head in bed.
I was recently reading Matthew Arnold’s essay on Worsdworth, & found a couple of morsels which reflect the spirit of what I am trying to achieve in match Shakespeare’s folio with one of my own;
A nation, again, is furthered by recognition of its real gifts & successes; it is encouraged to develop them further
But let me have the pleasure of quoting a sentence about Shakespeare, which I met with by accident not so long ago in the Correspondant, a French review… “Shakespeare is the king of poetic rhythm & style, as well as the king of the realm of thought.”
Thus, in essence, I wish to develop & extend the Shakespearean style for the benefit of the nation, & thus the English-speaking world. Picking up the histories from his Henry VIII, in a way.
My 13 Conchords thus far have ranged in length between 14 & 35 scenes, so let’s say an average of about 20. Theoretically, then, I could finish a conchord every three weeks, while adding ten days of rest & normal life days means I could compose one conchord per month. Add a couple of months for vacation, a couple of months just purely researching, & a major edit month, then we’re looking at about 18 months to complete the next third of the Folio – if I remain focus’d of course. It took about the same amount of time to complete the first third, actually, tho a good half of it was already written.
These are the next seven conchords which I shall be composing throughout 2022.
THE MADCHESTER TRILOGY: A three parter telling the story of the rise & fall of the Madchester movement, 1979-1991. You can follow it here
THE KING & THE SPIDER: The story of Robert The Bruce in exile. I will be using Scottish folk songs as the music.
THE RUMBLE IN THE JUNGLE: The third conchord in the Gods of the Ring trilogy telling the story of the Muhammad Ali – George Foreman fight in Zaire, 1974
THE LION & THE EAGLE: This might also be call’d ‘The Day of the Griffin.’ It tells the story of a meeting between Churchill & Von Ribbentrop in the lead up to the Second World War.
That will take the total to 20, which is no mean feat in itself, & also beyond the half-way mark in the quest for 39.
Damian Beeson Bullen