After almost a year of working on this, I finally finished my latest piano composition! Interestingly, as I plugged my way through this whole process, I became inspired to work on yet another…much larger…project. At some point, I will post an update on that project and refer back to this song, and maybe explain the title, but for now, it will just have to remain a mystery to everyone. ;)
So I have compiled the parts of the song for my dad!
To give a little bit of background on the inspiration and motivation behind this piece… it’s been a little bit of a crazy year for our family. Lots of unexpected experiences and changes of plans have come our way.
Not long after parts of this song began forming in my mind, my dad experienced a heart attack. Though not a major one, it was a scare to everyone. And even though we didn’t have the means to do much for Christmas this time around, and my plans for a job after the holidays had fallen through at the last minute, and none of us had any idea what was going to happen in our lives during the next few months immediately following that, we had a great time being together during the holidays because we could appreciate that we were, in fact, together. It was nice!
Of course, my dad is a very sentimental kind of person, so a lot of little things matter to him that probably a lot of people take for granted. My music is one of those things. It’s not like my dad and I hang out and talk all the time or anything–he’s not really into the things I’m into (mostly because I’m a girl, and I’m 21…just a few decades behind). But it’s not really all about words anyway. It’s the presence that counts. It’s just nice to be around each other. So sometimes when I’m at home, he watches tv while I stare blankly at it and think about completely unrelated things in my own little world…because I’d rather sit there and think with someone than just sit there and think alone.
I used to play piano in the living room every day in the morning, afternoon, and night…basically all the time. I was addicted to playing the piano. I was also addicted to riding my bike, which my friends made fun of me for… but they could just kiss it because I had killer thighs and they didn’t.
Usually in the afternoons and at night when I played piano, everyone else was busy doing other stuff. My dad usually was sitting in his recliner reading his Bible or some other book in the stack beside his chair. (Guess who instilled in me the value of education.)
So I’d play piano while everybody else did whatever they did, and I didn’t think anything of it until I visited home after going off to college. I was informed by each member of the family that it was “really quiet” without me. (I guess this was a compliment…?)
That’s when I discovered that my dad really misses me playing piano. I came home one weekend, and once I found myself at the keys, I KNOW I heard someone sniffling. And I KNOW that it was my dad. This is why I usually give him things like socks for Christmas.
So Deddy, if you are reading this, I’m sending this song to you online so that when you hear it I won’t have to listen to you get all sniffly. I am not going to China (any time soon, at least); and if I do one day, it’ll be okay because I’ll be coming right back. Thank you for all your willingness to try understanding all my youthful and sometimes unexpected dreams and goals, and for always encouraging me. Also, I love you and hope you enjoy the song! (It doesn’t have any words, of course.)
So for a few months, I’ve been working on a piano composition that I eventually, when I’m finally finished with it, would like to dedicate to my dad. Some people seem to have this almost divine power to just make up anything musical right off the tops of their heads, and it’s like Mozart and Beethoven are ripped right out of the history books and cast into the land of the forever forgotten. Some people…..are not me.
Composing music on the flute is one story. It takes me a really long time, however, to complete a piano composition. This is how it works for me:
1. I don’t think about trying to create music at all. I just live my silly little life until gradually…
2. …a tune is conceived! Where it comes from? I can’t ever be sure, but I will go out on a limb and guess that it is a product of my psychological state encompassing an extended period of time (mood and various elements of my subconscious)– yeah, totally creeped out now.
3. I harbor this tune in my mind until I get the opportunity to “pick it out” on the piano. Transferring a tune from my brain to my fingers on the piano is especially frustrating, so I’m usually okay with procrastinating this part of the whole process until I have the mental stamina/time to dedicate to it.
4. Then I realize it’s not enough. I’ve only created one little section of music that needs something before it, something after it, or (usually) both!
5. I keep messing around with sounds on the piano until I get tired of it and move on to play a song I already know or do some other lazier activity.
6. Steps 1-5 are repeated for a few hours, days, weeks, months, or sometimes years until I feel that I have completed the piece to my best ability.
The advantage: Having closure.
The disadvantage: It’s NEVER as good as the music my mind actually creates.
So tonight I was working on the song for my dad. It’s called “I’m Flying”– sounds cheesy, but it just popped into my mind when I first started working on it, and I haven’t been able to shake it, so that is its name.
Well, as I was sewing my sections of music together into a whole song, I realized that I identify each section with a thought–a concept, a mental image, a memory, another song, or even something as simple as a color. I was having a hard time deciding the arrangements of the sections, so I got out a piece of paper and started naming them. And whoa… was it weird.
I’m not even going to try to explain where all of these came from, but the list at the top is what came to my mind first, and the list below that is my organization of them into how I want the song to progress.
Hearing the actual song might be a disappointment after reading these spontaneous names, but I will try to remember to post the song once it’s finished and polished up. In the meantime, here is another one of my songs.
I wrote this one when I was 16.