“I guess when I think about it, and I know it sounds strange, I can’t really remember a moment where I knew that I wanted to play the cello, or indeed that music was something that I wanted to do. Though what I do know is – being brought up in a family of seven kids who all, at some point in their childhood played an instrument, including my eldest brother Eric who played the cello and was initially taught by my mum – with so much music going on in our family, it was only natural that I learnt an instrument. I guess the cello stood out, and once I started, I progressed quite quickly, so my parents took that to mean I’d made my choice and that was that.
“I know it doesn’t sound that glamorous, but I can’t recall a gig I went to, or seeing an inspirational performance or anything like that which got me into playing the cello, I just seemed to be good at it and was encouraged by my parents to keep it up.
“The musical world that I work in now by no means reflects my training as a classical cellist, as my musical upbringing was firmly rooted in the classical camp, so when I came round to finding the ‘popular music world’ and singer/songwriters etc I was just starting university. If I look back at that time, I really do regret not being introduced to this world earlier on and feel that I somehow missed out, like the fact that I grew up without a TV in the home, so when I got to college I probably spent a year of my undergraduate catching up on a whole mass of programmes (most of it rubbish..).
“But still, in doing this, I felt a little more ‘connected’ to the world outside and felt I was able to be a little more informed I guess, so the same applies to music in my case. By not knowing about the great rock bands, singer/songwriters, and even music in the charts, it felt that when I finally came round to hearing this stuff I was years behind everyone else. Jumping ahead to today, I know that this process, although frustrating at times, has led me to be a musician that isn’t necessarily inspired by the usual suspects, aiming instead to create music that is a little more ‘uncategorisable’ than most.
“I don’t really want to go into too much depth about my musical training for fear that it’s not that exciting, but it’s important for me to say that without the classical (and baroque) training that I’ve had, I wouldn’t be able to do my job as I do. I guess I’ve just been fortunate that I’ve been introduced to the right people over the last 10 years and who, in turn, have all given me amazing opportunities and I feel very fortunate that I can call all of them friends.
“The person though that started me off on the road to confidence, and helped to open the first door was my late wife, Kate Garrett. Kate was an inspiration to everyone including me, she had a wealth of experience and knowledge and a whole skip full of generosity when it came to supporting others in their musical journeys. She was the one that introduced me to Simon Emmerson who runs Imagined Village of which I’ve been a member since 2007 and she was the one that helped me believe that I was capable of being a professional musician.
“By saying earlier that I didn’t really want to go into depth about my musical training, the same applies with the songs that I write. I’m not one to give the story away really, my songs are about me and my life (as mundane as that is sometimes) but what matters to me is that I not only enjoy my musical career, but that it is just one of the building blocks to hopefully continue the work of supporting others and most importantly build a life and home with those dear to me.”
Thanks to Barney Morse-Brown for the latest in our series of artist blogs. As well as his many other projects, Barney is one half of DuoTone whose new album Ropes is out now on ECC Records; and he’s a member of Imagined Village whose new album Bending The Dark is out 14th May 2012.
Catch DuoTone live at Fire In The Mountain festival in Aberystwyth (1st June) and Lunar Festival at Tamworth in Arden (3rd June 2012).