Britain in the Snow

It’s become a popular pastime to kick sand in the faces of the Brits over our apparent inability to deal with bad weather.

Here’s my take on the matter:

Although the entire British Isles would fit into just one US state, there’s an extraordinary variety in geographic and climactic types in Britain. Parts of the country – Dartmoor and Exmoor, the Pennines and the Scottish Highlands – get winters that are bad even by North American standards and they deal with it very well but, where I live, we haven’t had any snow to speak of for a few years. This means that hard-pressed local authorities (and airports) won’t spend precious resources planning for something that might never happen. To be fair, no one would.

Added to this, whereas, in many countries, you can guarantee a certain type of weather at a given time of year, in Britain it just doesn’t work like that. There’s an old saying that, if you don’t like the weather, just wait ten minutes.

It must seem comical to see news reporters standing in an inch of snow as if predicting doomsday but the fact is that small amounts of snow really can cause chaos.

We had an inch of snow last week – which had gone by mid-afternoon – with the result that a 30 mile trip to my in-laws, which normally takes around 50 minutes, took two and a half hours! This is why the news agencies warn us in advance.

All this happens because of a combination of factors. Many roads in towns and cities in Britain were laid out when horse-drawn vehicles ruled. If a car pulls into the centre of the road to turn into a side road a long queue will soon form because following traffic can’t get by. Traffic density is also a big problem. When I see reports of congestion in Los Angeles I can’t help wondering how drivers would cope with conditions over here in the rush hour. People have been known to abandon their cars in the middle of the road in disgust.

Another factor is the lack of experience of snow and ice among young drivers. When I began driving we had bad weather every winter, guaranteed.

The main problem is that, although it has become fashionable (especially in Hollywood) to portray Britain in an unfavourable light, in their heart-of-hearts even our detractors secretly expect us to excel. It goes with the badge if you’re British. Compare our medals tally in the Olympics with our population figure, one fifth of the US population, and a picture emerges of a country that punches way, way above its weight.


Logic Pro X: one year on

With twelve months under my belt on Logic I decided to share experiences.

By way of introducing myself, I spent my working life (since 1958) as a pencil score and manuscript band parts kind of guy, switching to notation software in 1993. As we all know, youngsters come out of college nowadays with all these DAW skills at their fingertips.

It’s difficult to criticise something that offers such incredible value for money. Pro Tools costs around three times as much and the hugely capable Alchemy synth bundled with Logic is worth the money on its own. You get the ES2 synth as well, which is as good as they get.

The downside is that DAW programs aren’t merely difficult, they’re insanely, despairingly complex.  Printing out the Logic help guide (I don’t like studying at the computer) produces a pile of paper a foot high.

Here’s an extract:

“For Track Stacks, you can choose a layout for the main track of a summing stack, but not for the main track of a folder stack. Subtracks for both folder stacks and summing stacks can have their own Smart Control layout. When a subtrack of a summing stack is selected, an additional Main Track Smart Controls item appears in the Layout menu. Choosing this item shows the layout for the main track of the summing stack, rather than a separate layout for the subtrack. Adjusting any screen controls switches focus to the main track of the summing stack.”

Reading this kind of stuff through hundreds of pages does cause your brain to melt after a while. This is where you’ll turn to YouTube.

There are one or two minor bugs. Choosing ‘select all following’ in the piano roll editor sometimes needs two or three attempts and if you have a synth open when you close the program you have to manually open the main editor window next time around. Ditto an open floating edit window.

The orchestral software instruments included are kind of OK and with careful editing and mastering will produce tolerable results. As we all know, superior third party instruments are a second-mortgage job if you need the whole kaboodle.

It’s a bit early for me to start dishing out advice but be careful what you touch in Logic. You only have to glance at a track to knock it out of position and accidentally right-clicking something causes problems that can take all morning the sort out. Still, that’s just familiarity, I suppose.

My biggest gripe involves a swipe at the whole industry, not at Logic alone, and that’s with regard to the total mindset on rock music. There are tons of keyboard, guitar, bass and drums sounds in Logic and they sound great. But the way the saxophones are stored is a giveaway to the problem. The saxes form a section, right? but you’ll find the alto and tenor under Garageband > Woodwind and the soprano and baritone under Jampack 1 > Woodwind. The easiest way to ascribe them is via the EXS24 sampler/synth, where they all come up in a long alphabetic list found from the top of the window. You can add third party sound fonts in Logic, too. I’ve installed the Sf2 fonts. They’re not industry standard but some of the instruments are OK (and rare).

More evidence of this obsession with rock is found in the online tutorials. By far and away the best tutorials are produced by Joshua Carney who calls himself ‘MusicTechHelpGuy’. This is a monumental series of lectures representing a huge amount of work by Joshua. It’s clear from the screen capture that he often records them late in the evening, presumably after a hard day’s work.

His voice and presentation are also easy to cope with over long periods.

Here’s the link, if you don’t already know it (which means you’ve been marooned on Mars for a while):

Unfortunately, and this isn’t a criticism, Josh is also totally absorbed into rock. There are over 70 lectures, culminating in comprehensive coverage of the art of mastering.

When writing this stuff people often say ‘Let’s add an instrument’. I’m hoping they’ll add a sax or trombone but, no. It’ll be a guitar, drums, bass or keyboard, again.

There are one or two tutorials on orchestral stuff but, so far, I haven’t found anything that goes into mixing and mastering for bands and orchestras with the same amount of detailed attention that the rockers enjoy. There are important differences. With software instruments you’re not concerned with mike spill or the acoustical oddities of recording studios, for example and the combination of like-instruments into orchestral sections has no comparable process in rock.

Incidentally, Mike Senior’s excellent work  ‘Mixing Secrets For The Small Studio’ published by Focal Press, is a must-read book. Unfortunately, here again, it’s rock all the way.

Creating new Logic files

My working method is to produce a score in my favourite notation program ‘MuseScore’, which is also a freebie. This is saved as a Midi file which I right-click on to open with Logic. Most of the instruments go straight in but two of the trombones and the guitar will regularly appear as saxes. This is easily fixed and it’s unfair to blame Apple because notation programs can inflict their own take on the matter. It’s always necessary to go into the list editor and manually delete all imported references to volume and pan (etc.) otherwise you’ll find the faders have a mind of their own. Keyswitch instruments will have more than one instance of each because there are mute, staccato, pizza, tremolo etc. versions of the file.

In this respect, you can help yourself by leaving out all dynamics and other markings in the notation program score. It’s a whole new ball game. Staccato is OK and will save loads of time in the piano roll.

If I double-click on a MuseScore midi file Finale appoints itself as the default program, even though I never use it. It also prevents the Aria instruments from sounding in Logic, even though they’re bundled with Finale! I might remove Finale from my computer. It isn’t really worth the space it’s taking up.

So that’s all folks. I haven’t spent a huge amount of time sourcing advice on orchestral mixing so any advice will be welcome.

Please think again, Mr President

President Obama’s comments regarding Britain’s decision to hold a referendum on its continued membership of the European Union have caused annoyance over here, particularly his stated opinion that, because of American sacrifices, he has a stake in the issue.

Of course, America’s military involvement, together with the unstoppable might of the American mass production machine, certainly had a powerful effect but Britain had already been fighting two of its ‘partners’ in Europe, Germany and Italy, for two years before the strong isolationist voice in the USA was silenced. The change of heart was occasioned, not by events in Europe, but in the Pacific. Then, as now, America’s intervention was driven primarily by self-interest.

The Battle of Britain had come and gone by this time. The Royal Air Force, although outnumbered three to one, had secured control of the skies above southern England, thereby frustrating Hitler’s plans to invade Britain. In any case, can anyone seriously believe that the Wehrmacht would have been allowed to march triumphantly into London, as it did in Paris? No ruddy chance. I lived through World War 2 and used to shelter under the stairs with my mother as the Luftwaffe bombed an armaments factory half a mile from where I lived. I’m just old enough to remember the mood of the nation quite well.

And where does Mr Obama’s idea that Europe is united come from? Even Britain itself is not united. We have strong Welsh and Scottish claims to independence. The British and the French really do dislike each other. Striking French lorry drivers think nothing of blocking channel ports and, as I predicted at the time of the last referendum, regarding what was then the ‘Common Market’, when the chips are down countries will scurry into their own back yard to look after their own interests.

The biggest cause of annoyance here is the sheer hypocrisy of Mr Obama’s statement. Would the USA sacrifice an ounce of sovereignty to Mexico or Canada? Not an exact comparison, I admit, but its essence remains.

In case anyone is interested, these were the reasons I voted against membership of the Common Market in 1975:

Each interested country had its problems. Join them together and you just get a bigger problem. 

Britain had failed to invest in research and development.

Britain had overmanned and inefficient companies.

Britain had over-powerful unions (Jim Callaghan’s government governed by consent of the unions).

Britain had a closed-door, elitist management style that alienated the workforce.

Britain was resting on its laurels in the belief that ‘British is best’ (which it had been, at one time).

Britain suffered from class-distinction, as it still does. There is a stratum at the top of society that believes it has a divine right to live in clover and that the rest of us must ensure we’re sober and alert enough each morning to keep it there.

All these problems began in Britain and have to be tackled in Britain. None of them can be solved by joining with others in an artificial attempt to create a super state. Such integration has to occur organically.

The strangest aspect of Mr Obama’s comments involve his advice that Britain should not ‘withdraw from the world’. Britain founded a vast Empire that, despite its occasional excesses, was the greatest force for good the world has ever seen. Judging Britain’s continued influence purely on its economic and military power misses the point.

We must get out of Europe and the sooner the better. Then all those Euro-MP’s will be forced to do something useful to us all, not merely themselves.


On the gradual deterioration in relations between Islamic and non-Islamic peoples.

I have published my opinions on here previously regarding the rise of Islamic influence in Britain. I justify diverting away from the chiefly musical content of these blogs by reference to the extreme dangers we all face, dangers that are far worse than any we have faced since the world-changing conflicts of two word wars, because of their clandestine nature.

The role of the USA in these matters has to be considered alongside the main issues. America has been accused of behaving as if it has a ‘divine right to police the planet’.  Is this a fair criticism? Might it be that, in the absence of global agreement on standards of behaviour, the world needs a ‘maternal’ force to guide it? With its economic and military might who better than the US? The problem here is that we all need an external force brought to bear upon us to ensure we do not stray from the ideal (whatever that might be) and, because the US would be self-appointed in this role (as, arguably, it already has been) it would inevitably lack essential constraints.

I recently wrote the following letter to the Muslim Council of Great Britain and sent copies to key figures in British politics. In it, I describe my considered opinions regarding a situation that will lead to the Apocalypse unless more people wake up to the dangers we face.

Harun Khan, Deputy Secretary
The Muslim Council of Britain
PO Box 57330,
E1 2WJ

Copy to Prime Minister Mr. David Cameron

26 January 2015 Dear Mr. Khan

On the continuing deterioration of the relationship between Islamic and non-Islamic peoples

[These matters have nothing to do with race. The problems presently discussed are of a cultural, not racial kind, and particularly relate to those aspects of culture that stem from religious dogma.]

I have been intending to write to you for some time and was finally motivated to do so by a recent statement, in response to current government actions, that the Muslim community resented the implication that it is separate from the rest of the country. The purpose of this letter is to attempt to persuade you, not only that it is separate, but that Muslims are chiefly responsible for the division.

I also wish to focus your attention, should this be necessary, on how wide the division is, with little sign, in the foreseeable future, of significant reconciliations taking place. The problem, as I see it, will worsen unless something is done to halt the decline and it must be done as soon as possible. Unfortunately, such action may provoke increased acts of terror or, at the very least, a further deterioration in this state of affairs, the fear of which may be the most important cause of apathy to date.

In my childhood, this little country had the courage to declare war on the most efficient fighting machine the world had ever seen. It remains to be seen whether or not we can find it within ourselves to resist the expansion of Muslim ambitions which are even more sinister because of their clandestine nature.

I have made only brief sojourns into the realms of philosophy for two reasons: it will be ‘old stuff’ to you and you have clearly been unimpressed to date. Nevertheless, I felt it necessary to include these ideas, for the sake of completeness, as I attempt to convince the Muslim population that it might just be wrong in its approach to mankind’s general predicament.

I also believe that, within around 50 years, Britain will become an Islamic state. It will happen simply because, with current levels of appeasement and positive discrimination, there will be nothing to stop it from happening. Britain will then descend into an abyss of in-fighting between rival factions characteristic of Islamic countries throughout the world. I do not wish this state of affairs to take place in my country.

Please note that I did not head this article by referring to a division between, for example, Islam and Christianity (I have no interest in sectarianism) preferring, instead, to deal with the problem that followers of Islam will always experience, in my view, as they attempt to interact with those, whoever they may be, who do not happen to share their ideas. The problem, quite simply, is that it is your way or no way.

A particular cause of concern to me is the way in which Muslims, who are characteristically highly motivated, are gradually occupying key roles in society. As this tendency attains its full potential for success, Muslims will no longer need to seek to make changes because they will be making the rules.

An example of the dangers we face can be found in the case of Baroness Warsi, who resigned her cabinet position, warning that the government’s stance is counterproductive at a time of heightened national security. In other words, do it her way or face the consequences! Her position in government must be of value or it would not have been created. Her absence, before a replacement is appointed, would therefore have been damaging. I claim that it was intended to be damaging and that her actions are part of a sectarian quest to make profound changes.

Another motivation for writing is that I believe the Government acted unwisely in response to events in Iraq and Afghanistan. Attempts to force Western ideas of democracy on the region, especially when backed by armed intervention, stem from a complete failure to understand the way things really work. I stated years ago that we would fail and, in the process, make matters worse. The legality of the moves was also questionable but international law is complicated and what we really need is a set of agreed principles to govern behaviour that are truly objective and free from sectarian and cultural bias. Now we are witnessing some rather naïve attempts to salvage the mess by the use of initiatives that have the potential to embarrass all of us.

At the outset, of course, we have to establish the existence of a deity, without which these arguments become irrelevant. I do not propose to follow that avenue of thought because I believe that we will become embroiled in bottomless speculation. Nevertheless, the fact that a deity may not, in fact, exist must surely bring some sense of perspective to this issue which is in danger of becoming de-railed by conflicting presumptions about the nature of God and what various people believe, for reasons of their own, to be God’s ‘commandments’.

This problem is exacerbated by the fact that the tendency to align oneself with closed-system ideologies, or ‘isms’, is always a sign of intellectual mediocrity; the Universe simply doesn’t work like that. (Even the economic theory of monetarism is an example of fundamentalist thinking.) Those responsible for such folly are often highly intelligent, well educated and experienced people. Human nature is, indeed, complex.

As I see it, gods do not create men. Men create gods. The style of god invented will stem from social requirements; a wayward society needs a vengeful god, etc.

Nevertheless, we have to deal with the situation that exists where men, and the culprits are generally male, with a strong, clearly defined personal agenda, attempt to create a world that falls in line with their grand conceits. (There are biological reasons why they do this, related to the subject of procreation, but I do not intend to go into that here.) If you challenge the idea you challenge the man, who will typically become closely identified with his own beliefs and will be often deeply resentful of any challenge to them.

The problem with Islam

I claim that religion must be kept out of public life, where it has no place, and I can sum up the reason in one sentence:

It is unreasonable to make statements and to take actions, based on beliefs, that affect those who do not share those beliefs.

In other words, believe what you like, within reason, of course, but do it at home. Interestingly, secular France is the only nation that has attempted to keep religion in its proper place.

If we give the problem of world affairs due consideration, I feel sure that most people would agree that the ultimate goal for the human race is the creation of a global family of mankind and the establishment of a level playing field for all, regardless of race, colour or creed. Achieving this will require compromises to be made but this requirement takes us to the root cause of the problem; everything a Muslim does and thinks is governed by the will of God who, alone, is perfect. This is true, to a greater or lesser extent, of other religions but Islam stands alone in world history as being the most autocratic, dogmatic and unyielding faith men ever devised. How, then, can we achieve the level of compromise needed when to do so requires ‘God’s laws’ to be modified or watered down? The simple truth is that we can’t, which explains why so many have called for a separate, Muslim parliament operating Sharia law and it would not surprise me if those who guide us are foolish enough to let this happen, one day, thereby creating a nation-within-a-nation.

The ceramic pigs

I referred, above, to positive discrimination. An example occurred recently where Subway agreed to stop selling pork products in many of its stores to avoid offending Muslims. I was furious to read of this but a more significant example occurred in Leicester, a few years ago. I shall use this incident as a case-history where each claim is analysed.

The statement, below, is by Leicester Federation of Muslim Organisations spokesman Yaqub Khan. I found his remarks to be characteristically glib and facile, so much so that I could not let them pass without a challenge.

He was referring to a collection of ceramic pigs displayed in a front window, perhaps rather mischievously, by a resident. Muslims have learned how easy it is to further their cause because of the tendency to allow positive discrimination to reach unacceptable levels. Their statements are frequently cleverly worded and require analysis in order to produce a counter-argument. Our decision-makers rarely find time to do this. They also feel constrained by the fear of possible recriminations and by accusations of racism or bigotry.

A spokesman for Leicestershire Police, at the time, said it was investigating the matter and that a file would be submitted to the Crown Prosecution Service, which would take the final decision on whether to press charges under the Public Order Act. Compare this with the impotence shown in dealing with Muslim preachers of hate and you might understand my annoyance with Leicestershire Police (positive discrimination again). Go to Luton any day of the week, for example. A few years ago, as I walked past the Islamic stall that is always set up in the centre of town, I was followed up a flight of steps towards Luton Station by a young Muslim girl. As she walked beside me she repeatedly told me that I am evil!

The statement

Mr Kahn said that more than 1,000 worshippers attending weekly prayers at the nearby mosque passed the collection of pigs. He claimed that the resident was aware of the potential for offence to be caused (which she probably was, but it shouldn’t really matter) and explained that the pig is mentioned as being ‘unclean’ in the Koran, and is regarded as an offensive animal by Muslims, who are forbidden from eating it.

‘There are rules which, as good citizens, we have to observe. We are a multi-faith society and we, as Muslims, respect other faiths practised in this country, so I think, in return, they should respect ours. Something like this is taken very seriously by Muslims and it is a very sensitive area.’

A quote from the Koran ‘Let there be no coercion in religion’ that was displayed alongside the pigs was also seen as provocative. Mr Khan said ‘The Koran is a sacred book. If that is placed in a window where pigs have been placed then that is even more offensive. It may be a trivial matter for some sections of the community but it has to be dealt with.’

Where do we go from here?

I started as closely to the origin of this matter as I was able to venture and I decided that the existence or otherwise of a deity had to be the starting point. When ideas and principles are based on religious beliefs the existence of a deity has to be established in order for such ideas and principles to have meaning. Learned books have been written on this subject so I decided that, because both Theism and Atheism still exist, none of the previous attempts to find a solution could have been successful. I therefore decided that my own ideas would be based upon the following claim which I hold to be self-evidently true:

Because there is proof neither for nor against the existence of a deity the only satisfactory and, ultimately, productive stance to assume at the outset of any discussion on these, and related, topics is that of the agnostic.

Of course, it could be argued that, since God created the Universe, he was able to create it any way He wished and therefore who are we to question His wisdom? I cannot believe this line of thought will offer any practical usefulness since it could be used to prove any point so we have to try to find an objective approach if we are to avoid the potentially catastrophic results of basing rules for human behaviour on belief systems. (A religion is a set of sectarian propositions.)

Having decided this, I also decided, some time ago, that beliefs must be kept out of public life where they have no place. History provides so many examples of the failure of attempts to marshal our affairs by means of principles that are based on unsubstantiated beliefs.

Beliefs divide people.

Mr Kahn’s claims

‘…the pig is mentioned as being “unclean” in the Koran, and is regarded as an offensive animal by Muslims, who are forbidden from eating it.’

OK. Eating pork that has not been properly prepared, especially in a warm climate where few people owned a fridge, would have been dangerous and I wouldn’t like to live in a pigsty, either. But does this represent Muslim views in their entirety? Of course it doesn’t. Millions of intelligent, decent people eat pork every day so there can be no validity in the claim that pigs can be offensive for any reason other than the common sense reasons given above. My own claim is that, having created a religion which, in this case, has these strange ideas about pigs, surely followers of the religion choose to be offended. They cannot move on from this to inflict their ideas on others or to claim that respect for their views should automatically follow.

‘There are rules which, as good citizens, we have to observe…’

I’m not quite sure what Mr Khan’s idea of a good citizen is but it is likely that the concept would have to be framed within constraints laid down by Islam, a religion that does not have a particularly good record in this respect.

‘We are a multi-faith society and we, as Muslims, respect other faiths practised in this country, so I think, in return, they should respect ours.’

A multi-faith society? Does he refer to the situation that prevails, where different faiths grudgingly co-exist (so-called ‘multiculturalism’) or is he pointing to an ideal where different religious leaders might come together and join the best bits of all faiths into one? This is an unlikely prospect. Amalgamation often works but it won’t work here. Do Muslims really respect the views of others and, in any case, what do we mean by the word ‘view’, especially in this context?

Should I be required to respect the views of others? Not necessarily. It depends on the particular views expressed and I definitely do not respect the view that ceramic pigs should be offensive, in fact I find the idea laughable.

Everything Muslims do and think is governed by the presumed will of their God. To suggest that compromise is needed, in order that integration can take place, is to suggest that the will of God is less than perfect, otherwise, why would it require modification in order to fit with the requirements of others? It is easy to see why Muslims adopted the simpler idea that their God is, quite simply, infallible and that, therefore, we should all abide by His rules, regardless of what non-believers may think. This notion is, of course, the root cause of the troubles we are dealing with currently.

‘Think’ is a significant word. Whether we are able to adopt religious views or not it is self-evident that the only way to achieve a level playing field is by striving for solutions based upon objective reasoning. Other methods have failed. Badly.

‘The Koran is a sacred book…’

I always have trouble accepting the idea that physical objects, including the ‘graven images’ in some Christian churches, are anything more than just that. A physical object, such as a building or a book, cannot be sacred. No matter how closely we analyse them it is likely that they will still reveal themselves to be lacking in any other determinable attributes and unless we can demonstrate, beyond reasonable doubt, that it is otherwise, we cannot impose our ideas on others and, by so doing, claim a lack of respect has been shown. Beliefs and religious notions dwell in the ‘hearts and minds’ of people, not in symbols, images or objects.

‘… It may be a trivial matter for some sections of the community but it has to be dealt with.’

It is a trivial matter. The question of eating pork or not eating pork or, equally, of possessing ceramic pigs, or not, is intrinsically inconsequential and importance can only be ascribed to the acts on the basis of man-made beliefs. If I enter a room and see someone poised, dagger in hand, ready to attack my friend it will be important to stop them. There is a difference.

I particularly dislike Mr Khan’s claim that the above problem ‘has to be dealt with’. No, it doesn’t. Muslims must modify their views into a form that is more likely to allow the integration we all hear about so often. That’s the ‘truth’ of the matter. The suggestion that even another person’s quote from the Koran is holy is totally unacceptable. The idea that there should be no coercion in religion is an idea that cannot be patented by Muslims. It is a principle we should all abide by. I believe it is fair to say that, in the real world we see and touch each day, Muslims practise the ideal far less than Christians do.


The word deserves a special mention since it is taking the world by storm similarly to the way in which the expression ‘multi-tasking’ still captivates female hearts. It’s one of those glib expressions that falls from the lips far too readily.

It means ‘fear of Islam’ but changes its meaning when used by those seeking to attain a slick and easy advantage over their opponents. My advice is to be afraid. Be very, very afraid. The achievements of terrorists are being over-stated but the dangers are being underestimated. Anyone, especially those with criminal connections, can obtain an assault rifle and ammunition. It then becomes the easiest thing in the world to walk into an establishment and shoot people, especially when the perpetrators of the crime welcome their own death. But terrorism is the great Leveller. One man with a rifle can lock down a city, or even a government (as happened in Canada recently). If enough attacks are mounted against key targets, damaging communications and transport, the economy could be destroyed and civilization would rapidly descend into chaos. Enemies would exploit the confusion with consequences that seem ridiculous in the calm light of day.

There is a tendency to feel secure behind the means and prowess of modern warfare but this is an illusion. Terrorists have no intention of facing us in a straight fight because they would lose and they know it.

A ‘red-herring’

Another error is involved in the frequently heard claim that it is only a minority of Muslims who pose a threat to non-Muslims. This belief in ‘good’ and ‘bad’ Muslims represents a ‘red herring’ for the following reasons:

1) History is not made by the moderate majority but by individuals within the wider community who possess a clearly-defined personal agenda.

2) The so-called ‘minority’ comprises an unknown number of people but will certainly be many millions strong.

3) ALL Muslims are ‘on the other side’. (They can’t forgive us for not being Muslim.)

The purpose of my last claim, 3) is to emphasise that Muslims believe what they believe more than non-Muslims believe what they believe, which has a bearing on my claim, above, that Britain will become an Islamic state.

Muslims do not play fairly

There is a serious imbalance between followers of Christianity and Islam regarding tolerance. Whereas Muslims are able to build mosques around Britain, benefiting from of a level of tolerance for which Britain is rightly famous throughout the world, Christians have little chance of being granted similar privileges in Muslim countries. Indeed, it is an offence to convert to Christianity, a crime that, in some countries, is still punishable by death.

At first sight it is praiseworthy that Britain, typically, continues to offer such tolerance in a world that is constantly under attack from the effects of Muslim dogma but this is a narrow and short-sighted point of view. In reality, such a hopeless imbalance will create a society that, ultimately, must fail. Muslims in Britain, or their forebears, came here in the first place because, for whatever reason, they preferred it to their country of origin (why else would they come?). How can it make any sense for them, having arrived here, to seek to make changes in order to create a society of which they approve?

The wider view (much wider!)

Powerful evidence now exists that mankind is not alone in the Universe which poses new challenges and new questions to be answered. Heaven would surely have to find space for every creature that has ever existed and those yet to exist in time and everywhere in space (whether infinite or not), provided, of course, they pass the ‘test’ for admittance. Would all self-aware creatures be required, ideally, to be or to become Muslim and how would all this affect Mecca? Clearly, inhabitants of spinning planets and rotating galaxies would be unable to face Mecca, even if they could locate it, so would there be other Meccas and what impact would that have on the status of our own Mecca which, by virtue of the newly-found competition, must lose some of its omnipotence?

People in various occupations often move away from problems, figuratively and literally, to obtain a clearer view. The more I move away from current disagreements and tensions that are based upon sectarian religious notions the more ridiculous it all becomes.

So there you have it. The views, not of an extremist, or someone with a grudge, but the views of an ordinary, educated, Englishman who seeks a harder response to the challenges we face before everything we have ever worked for, hoped for and fought for disappears without a trace,

yours sincerely,

John Morton.

...’Thousands become the brave and loyal soldiers of the faith: all know how to die but the influence of the religion paralyses the social development of those who follow it. No stronger retrograde force exists in the world. Far from being moribund, Mohammedanism is a militant and proselytizing faith.’

Sir Winston Churchill.

Related Scales; chord/scale relationships

The following is an extract from my FREE PDF document of scale and arpeggio exercises for jazz trombone. I am publishing part of the introductory notes here because it might be of interest to others who have posted similar articles.

FREE download of the complete file from the link at the bottom of the page at


An important aspect of harmony in jazz improvisation is the matter of related scales. All diatonic chords are served by the notes of the particular key or mode. The 3rd and 7th functions of a chord are most characteristic and will acquire emphasis in melodization where it is desired to reaffirm the underlying harmony. The 5th acquires significance in diminished, leading note 7th and augmented chords.

Melodization has to accommodate both the chord itself and the prevailing key, which may be in the form of the nominal key, temporary modulation or a ‘tonal cell’ (the llm7 > V7 progressions that abound in jazz and standard songs).

Modal harmony will tend to avoid using chords foreign to the scale that destroy its purity so the forms of melody/harmony correlation will be mainly diatonic, except where altered upper functions occur (e.g.♭9, #9, #11).

With chromatic chords, the related scale will generally be the one from which the chord is borrowed so that, for example, a Bb7 chord will probably be related to the scale of Eb major, in which it forms the dominant chord.

(If we play the scale of Eb beginning on Bb, which may not necessarily be the case in real music, we obtain the Mixolydian mode which is another way of viewing the subject.)

Augmented triads and the many variations of the augmented 7th chords are related to one of the two forms of the whole tone scale (exercises 41/43).

Diminished 7th chords are often melodized by a scale comprising alternating whole tones and semitones (exercise 37). String of Pearls is probably the most appropriate name for these scales. Since dim7 chords resemble ‘flattened’ ninth chords with roots omitted, the scales can be used with these chords, also. Just as there are three dim7 chords, there are three of these scales, too.

Some writers have attempted to define a related scale for all chords, no matter which. In my opinion, those who advocate extending the list of scales are rebels without a cause because we already have the option to use notes in continuity or in simultaneity. In other words, if we take the notes of a chord and spread them through time we produce a melody, or scale, and if we take the notes of melody, or a selection from the melody, and use them in simultaneity, we produce a chord. Of course, neither of the results will necessarily be acceptable in their raw state but that doesn’t alter the principle.

But, rather than dismiss the idea out of hand, let’s look at it in more detail.

Two notes in continuity or simultaneity form a melodic or harmonic interval respectively. Three or more notes of different pitch moving stepwise in the same direction are required to generate scalewise motion.

An online search using ‘related scales’ as a search term quickly reveals a bewildering number of scale/chord associations. The problem is that we may require up to 6 notes of different pitch, the exact number depending on the starting point and the number of degrees in the scale, to define a scale type (i.e. before the characteristic note or notes occur). In addition, most tunes regularly feature chord changes at the bar or half-bar, placing severe constraints on the space available to incorporate such differently identified scales in a melodic line whilst, at the same time, ensuring smooth harmonic connections  (which may already have required the insertion of unessential notes).

Tunes intended to be played at a fast tempo (e.g. Limehouse Blues) have less active harmonic changes (thereby providing more musical space) but the velocity itself will become our enemy, anyway, because rapid changes in tonality are difficult to listen to and the subtleties of the additional scale identities will become lost.

Another important fact, that’s often overlooked, is that our awareness of tonality exists both simultaneously and continuously so that the tonality of the approaching bar (or half-bar) may sometimes be anticipated (you might, for example, play a b♭ as an **unessential note over a G7 chord if the note plays a prominent part in the approaching bar). Anyone who has attempted to play jazz lines over a chord sequence will have experienced the occurrence of notes in the melodic line that contradict the harmony, and the difficulty of avoiding them without destroying melodiousness (and performing theoretical back-flips in order to justify their actions).

Because of the above considerations I concluded that the best solution was to limit the list of related scales when I produced the scales/chords document but I am open to debate.

Regarding the absence of the various minor scales: the modes, including the Aeolian (natural minor) occur during the stepwise permutations in the major scale exercises. Jazz lines are concerned with the tonality of the underlying harmonies and, when we add to that the many factors involved in playing solo lines that are musical in effect, jazz musicians will rarely avail themselves of the different forms of the minor scale in creating their music.

‘Master your instrument, master the music and then just play’ Charlie Parker.