A musical portrait of the life of Katharine of Aragon, Henry VIII’s Spanish Queen, ‘K of A’ is an instrumental album by English composer and keyboard player Geoff Proudley, drawing on orchestral, classical, filmic and rock elements to paint some of the key moments and emotions in Katharine’s life.
Geoff writes mainly for media but has had a number of flirtations with progressive rock over the years. Some with long memories may even recall his involvement with progressive outfit Coltsfoot in the mid-eighties.
As Geoff describes ‘K of A’; “It’s been a three-year labour of love. Starting with an original mysterious Spanish theme that came to me when I was reading about Katharine, I gradually started to write more, fleshing out episodes and moments of her life. I suppose it was a bit like writing for plays and getting inside the characters, what she was feeling and then painting musical pictures of events in her life’. It’s something I find I can do. It usually comes through in what I write, through my subconscious. For this album I think I wrote about 70% of the themes and main frameworks of the pieces in one weekend of piano improvisation. Again, thinking about the events in her life and capturing everything I played into Logic. Then going back and listening to what I had. I often write that way and I find it really productive.“
The wives of Henry VIII have oft been the subject of musical projects (Rick Wakeman’s ‘The Six Wives Of Henry VIII‘ being the most obvious) but I had a feeling that Geoff’s take on it could bring something different to the scene and I wasn’t wrong…
A much more orchestral take on progressive rock, ‘K of A’, also, is not a medieval romp of flirty harpsichords and merry men. It is an intense and thought provoking piece of work and one where this masterful musician really gets to shine. Telling the story of Katherine through twenty-three, relatively short, musical pieces, the album is at times contemplative and reflective and, at others, more strident and direct. The obvious Tudor musical influences are there as, in any story about the era, they must be but they are never used as anything but reference and every note has its place, whether it be from harpsichord, violin or something of a much more modern ilk.
Where the story is dark, the music provides a sombre and melancholy timbre to match the mood but, when the atmosphere is of a much more upbeat disposition, Geoff guides the musical narrative to a more luminous and lively delivery. Throughout its lengthy eighty minute running the time, the album never loses focus or the listener’s attention due to its intense, absorbing nature and, as this rich musical tapestry comes to a close, you realise just how much of yourself you had invested in the story.
Being able to tell a compelling story through music is quite a skill and, with ‘K of A’ and the engrossing life of Katherine of Aragon, Geoff proves he could be a master of the game.
Released 31st March, 2022.
Order direct from Geoff’s website here: