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Full Focus

Daniel Kemshell



'Full Focus' is a series where musicians and others discuss a jazz track or tracks in detail. The idea is that you are able to listen to the track that is discussed as you read about it. Guitarist Daniel Kemshell writes about his composition Lullaby.


Daniel Kemshell

Daniel Kemshell photograph by Iza Korzak


Guitarist Daniel Kemshell was born in Aberdeen, Scotland. He began playing drums when he was eight and then took up guitar, joining the National Youth Jazz Orchestra of Scotland when he was sixteen. In 2014 he enrolled on the Jazz course at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire and during his time there became a bandleader and sideman on the local scene, spent a semester studying at the Jazz Institut Berlin (Hochschule für Musik Hanns Eisler) and developed his composing skills. Daniel graduated with first-class honours and was awarded the Jazz Performance Prize.

Here is a video of Daniel playing Rose with the Izzy Shabani's band in 2017, [Christos Stylianides (trumpet); Daniel Kemshell (guitar); Tom Harris (keys); Shivraj Singh (electric bass); Izzy Shabani (drums)]. The band members have since gone their separate ways, but at the time their music was clearly impressive.




In 2018, Daniel moved to London where he has developed his musical career, working with a number of musicians in a variety of settings ranging from the Standard repertoire to electronic music and performing and recording with a variety of artists including Xhosa Cole, Olly Chalk, Jasmin Kent Rodgman and Hansu-Tori’s In Search of Common Paradise.

Daniel Kemshell


In 2020, Daniel completed a Masters degree with distinction at the Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music & Dance - proudly supported as a Trinity College London Scholar and Help Musicians UK Postgraduate Award recipient. As an educator he has devised and co-led workshops with Cheltenham Festivals, Stretto Music and Trinity Laban’s Youth Summer Schools (Songwriting, Animate Orchestra). He is a featured presenter on Journeys, an online guitar tuition platform recently developed by the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music (ABRSM), and teaches guitar regularly in school settings and from his home in South-East London.

Daniel has been producing recordings of his own material, and has received support from the Birchfield Jazz Festival and Trinity GoDigiTL microgrant to produce solo recordings during the COVID-19 lockdown. A recent member of the Sounding Eye Collective, his recording work has also accompanied visual artist Shiyi Li’s work in the Thirteen Ways of Looking exhibition at the Herbert Art Gallery & Museum in Coventry (UK).




We can watch a brief trailer video for the project:






....and so to Lullaby. It is only three minutes long but it is an intriguing piece; the echo effect is dreamlike although not initially soothing as lullabies often are but as the music progresses that dreamlike effect brings an ambience to the piece as the solo guitar enters at about 1.13. Despite what Daniel says below about naming the tune, by the time the piece ends, I can understand why perhaps in his subconscious hethought of Lullaby, although possibly more a lullaby for adults than for babies. Listen to the music and then Daniel explains below in more detail how the end result was achieved.




I started writing Lullaby after a chance encounter of improvising what would become the opening measure of the tune. I think being in a cavernous basement room at the time probably influenced the character of the idea, but I actually called it Lullaby as a joke. It sparked my curiosity, and so I recorded it with my phone for future reference.

I made a transcription of the recording and noted the properties and intervallic relationships within the idea. When considering pitch-class set theory, I found that the consecutive intervallic movement from one note to the next could be exclusively defined using one of the following: interval classes ic1, ic2, ic4 and ic6.


Lullaby Score



For those who are unfamiliar with the theory, I have provided a table of interval class equivalencies that outline the tonal counterpartsfor each interval class.


included intervals
tonal counterparts
extended intervals
0 0 unison and octave diminished 2nd and augmented 7th
1 1 and 11 minor 2nd and major 7th augmented unison and diminished octave
2 2 and 10 major 2nd and minor 7th dimished 3rd and augmented 6th
3 3 and 9 minor 3rd and major 6th augmented 2nd and dimished 7th
4 4 and 8 major 3rd and minor 6th diminished 4th and augmented 5th
5 5 and 7 perfect 4th and perfect 5th augmented 3rd and diminished 6th
6 6 augmented 4th and diminished 5th  


The interval class ic0 (unison and octave) could also be found within the initial idea , however I neglected its presence at the time due to its static nature - no movement between different pitch classes. Following the analysis, I tasked myself with developing the idea by restricting consecutive intervals to one of the four interval classes defined - ic1, ic2, ic4, ic6. This was done for both the melody and bass parts independently, however I remember embarking on a trial-and-error process of constantly evaluating how the two parts sounded together. The process helped me settle on two parts that I felt were satisfying to my ears until they formed the 'final' version of the piece as it is now known.


Daniel will be putting up more tracks in the coming months with a plan to release a collection on Bandcamp. We shall let you know when this is available.

For anyone who would like to have the whole score for Lullaby, Daniel would be happy to send you a PDF file with it if you contact him through his website.

Click here for Daniel Kemshell's website and contact details


Daniel Kemshell

Daniel Kemshell photograph by Olivia Da Costa


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Visit some of our other Full Focus pages:

Tom Green Septet - Champagne Sky
John Pearce - Just Friends
Gebhard Ullmann - Ta Lam