Archive for March, 2009


Posted in The Clockwork Quartet Storybook on 25 March 2009 by larajensen


The problem I’ve been tackling of late is how to convey to the reader which of the songbook’s characters is speaking at any one point without having to rely on writing their names constantly next to the relevant text.

So….I started thinking about FONTS with the intention of attributing each character their own one with it’s style dictated by variables such as their personality type, temperament, education, background etc etc.For example the character of the scientist I had imagined (along with the character description given to me by Ed) to be Germanic in origin…so that became my starting point for my search for his font. The General’s wife was described to me as being rather ‘prim and proper’, middle class and educated, so again, this aided me in finding an appropriate font for her.

The fonts will probably be first associated with each character within a group picture/illustration that will be featured in the beginning pages of the book. With each character’s portrait labeled with their name in their chosen style lettering.

After finding the fonts I began contemplating the layout in a much more serious manner, as I have spent the last few weeks looking at research an have got a rather good clue about how I want all of this to end up looking. The most important thing is being able to convey to printers (whom I have not yet approached) as best an idea as possible of what we are looking to create. This entails putting together storyboards of how we would like each page to be laid out as well as the style of illustrations, print type, colours and things like what paper we will require.

I would like to mention that the preparation requirements of aforementioned layout have been helped along and will be helped along by two sterling young fellows at whom have very kindly agreed to let me ask them a lot of questions and then give me a lot of answers. Their names are Oliver Lockett and Mike Scott. Mike studied book design for his BA and Oliver has a good few years of dealing with printers under his belt. Together they make up part of Team Awesome when it comes to helping me make this project feel very real and realisable.

I also had a good chat about programme use with Mr Simon Fox (thanks!).

Right so, where I am now is I have a layout idea and need to draw up an example of one of the illustrations that will be featured in the book (the style that I draw in will dictate the print type ie bitmap, full colour or vector graphics). This in turn will effect which printer we will use. I have already started some sketching but this is serious drawing time. Hopefully with this done I can approach printers sometime next week……..WATCH THIS SPACE.



la xx


“Devil Scratches”

Posted in The Clockwork Quartet on 22 March 2009 by patrickgleeson

So I’m writing most* of the music and lyrics for The Clockwork Quartet, and Ed asked me to write a post introducing myself and explaining a bit about my end of the project.

My name’s Patrick, and about a year ago I decided to write a steampunk anti-musical, for want of anything better to do. A mutual friend (who is also doing some photography work for the show) told me that Ed was forming a steampunk band, and arranged an introduction in an awesome but slightly dank London member’s club. We nominally agreed to team up to create something that wasn’t quite either a band or a musical, and once he’d shown me his cog jewellery and I gave him a first draft of The Watchmaker’s Apprentice, the deal was pretty much sealed.

The general process for writing the music is as follows: After a bunch of discussion about the story that a particular song needs to tell I’ll go away and write some music that seems to fit the mood, and shape it into a structure that roughly fits what needs to happen in the narrative. I use full notation (or “Devil Scratches”, as Ash of the House Of Strange calls it), scoring everything except the percussion. I’ll then go back over the music and using some serious creative tools try to fill in the lyrics.

Once I’ve got a draft I’ll use Sibelius’ sound banks to render a not very convincing audio file, then record the guitar part on top, plus possibly sing the vocal line onto it as well if it’s in my range, and add a bunch of sampled mechanical/industrial percussion noises. When this is all mixed down into an mp3 “demo”, I’ll put it, plus a pdf of the score and a text file of the lyrics, onto our account (an absolute must for online collaboration), and get Ed and Hugo to listen and give me feedback. Depending on what they say I’ll either throw everything away and start again, or write another draft based on their feedback and show it to them again, or very, very rarely, mark the song as finished first time round and go have a nice cool drink.

The next step is to distribute the parts to the band and start rehearsing and recording. I’ll post more about that side of things later.

In the meanwhile, I leave you with a snippet of the latest piece I’ve been working on, a bodice-ripping military adventure called “The Eagle of the Empire” (in no way related to the book about Napoleon of the same name that I just found out about through Google).

Here’s a little MP3 snippet: eaglesections2and3draft1demo

And here’s a little bit of score (actually it’s just a screenshot of Sibelius – hence the red marks):

One page of the Eagle score

One page of the Eagle score

* But before anything else I should point out that substantial contributions to both music and lyrics come from Ed and Hugo.

Clockwork Quartet Vs. Your Brain (via your ears) part 1

Posted in The Clockwork Quartet @ The House Of Strange on 19 March 2009 by houseofstrange

Hello bloggers – or am I the blogger and you the bloggees? Anyhows. I’m Ash Gardner and I have been entrusted to encode and aid in the process of cataloging the Clockwork Quartet’s sound into swarms of 1s and 0s so that they can be transported and played back in the form of sound on speakers across the interweb.


I am aiming to excite as many of your ears as possible. And won’t be taking too much for granted, except, that you, like the rest of us, have grown up exposed to a lot of organized sound played over speakers. It should grab your attention if you aren’t listening out for music, it needs to be loud, but still with wide dynamic of volume. All of it will be mixed with a combination of laptop speakers and studio monitors and should jump of of your crappy speakers and sound like crystalline perfection on your not so crappy speakers. The bass will sound tight when you turn up the bass boost, and will at all times sound clear yet interesting.  It will be instantly familiar yet intriguing. Like the best of things, you wont be able to tell quite why it has the power that it does.

The Clockwork Quartet

Posted in The Clockwork Quartet on 18 March 2009 by Ed Saperia

To bring you up to speed, The Clockwork Quartet is a 13 piece steampunk band I have been putting together since about September 2008. At the time of writing, we have two singles released for free download on our website.

We’ve had a 4 page feature in Bizarre Magazine, and been written about in The Guardian and The Chap, as well as various other places.

The Clockwork Quartet : Image (c) Bizarre Magazine

The Clockwork Quartet : Image (c) Bizarre Magazine

The band features an unusual selection of instruments:  Violin & Stroh Violin, Cello, 6 String Banjo & Guitar, Bass Banjo, 5 String Banjo & Piccolo Banjo, Accordion, Oboe & Musical Saw, and two percussionists who use a double kit composed of scrap metal, metronomes, clocks and other found objects. In addition, almost everyone in the band sings at one point or another. There is also The Steamdrone, which is written about in the previous post.

More background in future posts, but just to answer some questions we’ve had from our fans: All of our music will always be free to download from our website – we’re also going to give away all the lyrics, tabs, sheet music and the individual tracks from our recordings so anyone is free to do remixes and covers, all under a Creative Commons license (probably this one). We hope to sustain ourselves from selling the Storybook.

Building up!

Posted in In The Workshop on 17 March 2009 by jschermoly

I’m Joe Schermoly and I’ve been enlisted by the honorable Edward Saperia as the man to build the very exciting and fairly involved objects and paraphernalia surrounding the fabulously stylish Clockwork Quartet.

To aid in this project, we have taken up residence in a studio space in Bow that is now kitted out as a small workshop within walking distance of our houses (we live very close to one another).  The main set piece of the Quartet is the Steamdrone.  It’s a pseudo-organ that runs on steam power, or will do in a sort of theatrical magic way.  Right now it doesn’t really run, but eventually it will provide a veritable bonanza of steam and lights and pipe organ sounds.  The original box was constructed by the excellently skilled propmaker Will, who is himself the banjo player in the Quartet.  I’ve been altering the arrangement of the pipes and horns and generally adding a lot to the drone to make it a little grander and more imposing.

After the drone is finished in the next week or two, the main project is to build the two-man percussion kit for the band. It will constructed of abandoned objects like old boilers, pans, springs, sheet metal and various other kinds of banging objects.  Other projects include smaller objects like a Jacob’s Ladder and an ornate system of lenses and gadgets for the scientist in the band.

Check back for pictorial updates on the work as it progresses.

The Clockwork Quartet Storybook

Posted in The Clockwork Quartet Storybook on 14 March 2009 by larajensen

Right then guys!

I’ll introduce myself! My name’s Lara Jensen (La). As well as being a friend of Ed’s and an admirer of his work and methodology I have been commissioned by him to design this little book of wonders aka “The Clockwork Quartet Storybook”. As part of that he has asked me to keep you all updated on my progress, so here I am, doing that. I will tell you now this is going to be somewhat of a journey for me as I have never done this before (the blogging and the book design). My formal background is in Fine Art, illustration and Costume Design, so lets see what I can do when I’m a little out of my comfort zone, ay? You can see some of my own work at to gauge my chances of success.

So far I’ve been researching into the basic layouts, illustrations and fonts that might be used as inspiration/foundations for the design. There’s a couple of photos below of the type of thing I’ve been looking at… not amazingly exciting atm, but room to build upon :) Ed and I took a little jaunt to some antique bookshops and looked through some ancient-ish tomes for ideas. We even got to thumb through a first edition copy of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” which was pretty awesome.

The storybook will most likely the size and shape of a pocket book. Hopefully leather bound, which will give the whole thing a lovely quality of look, texture, period and weight.

Other than that I’ve been spending my time reading up trying to work out what the rest of this book design thing is all about (there’s a hell of a lot to it) and I’m hoping to start honing my skills at drawing each of the band members faces for the upcoming illustrations. I’ll keep you posted on my progress with that one. I’m sure there will be some remarkable attempts.

Anyway, that’s it for now!


Book cover
Book coverLayout

The Book Of Sand

Posted in The Book Of Sand with tags on 12 March 2009 by Ed Saperia

I met Simon Fox for dinner at my place to discuss a new project, The Book Of Sand.

The Book Of Sand is an idea I had for a new way of organising online interactions. While most interactive online experiences (chatrooms, forums, etc) are very tied to some kind of chronological basis – newest most important – this has problems with scaling. However, something which lacks this temporal element, e.g. a wiki, has the opposite problem, in that you lose any sense of dialogue.

A reasonable description is that The Book Of Sand is like an infinitely nested threading system. It’s simpler than I am making out – when I present the first functional release, hopefully how it works will be perfectly intuitive. Simon is building it for me, and I hope to have a preliminary spec and timeline from him by the end of the week.