In the Ink Dark
In the Ink Dark is a project from artist and choreographer Luke Pell and collaborators. A dance and a poem made from from memory and conversation on the themes of love and loss. It was first made for Edinburgh as part of LeithLate17 in the old Leith Theatre and went on to be performed in libraries throughout the city, culminating with a final performance for midsummer at The Scottish Poetry Library.
In 2019 it reurms with new site responsive re-iterations for Take Me Somewhere and Luminate Festivals in Glasgow and Dundee. Please follow the link above to find out more about this unique collaboration and current performance dates.
On 27 May 2019 an album of the score for string quartet, piano and electronics will be relesaed. It will be available on CD and digital download. A limited run of the CD designed by Valerie Reid will be gifted to audiences in both Glasgow and Dundee and it will be available from all digital online platforms including Spotify, iTunes and Apple Music.
I have a number of CDs available from the shop on this website for those who are interested but can’t make the performances. During the show weeks I will also gift these. Simply order through the shop or drop me an e-mail.
The final movement can be streamed below.
Notes on writing the score
The music for In The Ink Dark developed like all other aspects of the project - through conversation and memory. Normally I’d spend many more days in the rehearsal room but the nature of the music and movement both being informed by the same words and ideas meant they could develop independently. Everything came from words, handfuls of words. If we judged it right they would eventually come together and complement each other.
We talked. We talked about ritual, life, change and loss. We talked music, lots of music: Patti Smith’s The Coral Sea, Nina Simone, June Tabor, Eliane Radigue, Brian Eno. All music we felt contained a certain intrinsic humanity.
Luke supplied and continued to supply these handfuls of words throughout the writing process, fleeting images to spark the imagination: 'particles of dust in light' 'something that strings do' 'between epic and intimate' 'a snow drift at dawn' 'a library in spring light' 'wind on water’ 'bleached in light' 'sea, storm, ocean, a desert scorched'.
All these words helped create aural images, imaginary soundscapes rooted in reality which led the composition.
I considered my personal memories, memories of youth, first songs, elusive half forgotten things. The sound world would be raw, broken, or at least on the verge of breaking. This led me back to a twenty year old dictaphone and tapes which contained fragments of forgotten songs. Texture would be key to holding it together and I would make use of this degraded tape quality. Initial instrumentation would include the sustained tones of shruti box, slowly shifting organ, wind chimes, electronics and string quartet. The music had to be emotionally resonant without leading.
For writing I returned to my old piano, the piano I’d grown up with and which had belonged to my grandparents. There is something about its size, tone, smell and imperfect, idiosyncratic rattles and squeaks that makes me want to sit with it for the duration of this project.
Earlier in the month I met Luke to visit Leith Theatre, the recently re-opened space which would host the premier. Ultimately I wanted the music to sound like this grand old building - crumbling, flaking and worn yet hopeful, determined and inviting. The music would have layers of sound like layers of paint, the idea of palimpsest, submerged fragments sometimes swelling to become audible before disappearing back from whence they came. An in-between space of time and place.
On revisiting the project in 2019 it resonated strongly with me after the recent death of my friend David Jack and my sister-in-law, the Scottish author Beatrice Colin, and I wished to write a new final movement in their memory.