MULTIPLE BBC Folk Award winner and founding member of bands Lau, Kan and Blazin’ Fiddles, Aidan O’Rourke spent a year writing one musical response a day to author James Robertson’s short story collection, 365: Stories.
Twelve months later he had written 365 new tunes, from which he selected 22 to record with Kit Downes on harmonium and piano.
Their tour to promote that album, 365: Volume 1, which is released on Reveal Records on 25 May, stops off at The Pleasance Theatre, on Saturday 14 April.
O’Rourke says “It all began with short stories. James Robertson, one of my favourite Scottish authors, wrote a short story every day for a year, and each story had exactly 365 words. Quite a task. I was given the collection for Christmas in 2015, and began reading the stories every day.
“I loved reading those stories: a daily dose of poetry and wisdom. And I loved the writing. Somehow the words and the pacing of the stories felt musical. I was intrigued by the discipline of setting such a quantifiable daily creative ritual. Would the same be possible in music…?
“By February 2016, I had decided I would take on a similar writing challenge each day for a year. I told James and he replied, ‘don’t do it!’, then suggested I give it a month and see if it drove me mad. By 28 February 2017, I had 365 new tunes, each one linked to a story from James’s collection.”
He continues, “Meanwhile, I had started an exciting new duo with piano/harmonium player Kit Downes.
“Occasionally I would send him rough solo recordings of the tunes and he would respond by harmonising them. He did complex and wonderful things with them, took them places I hadn’t imagined.
“We got together in the studio in Edinburgh in the spring of 2017 and spent several days going through the tunes. We made a demo.
“My aim is to record all 365 tunes and release selected highlights as two double albums.”
Aidan O’Rourke, plus special guest James Robertson, Pleasance Theatre, The Pleasance, Saturday 14 April, 7.30pm, £15, tickets-scotland.com