Thursday, 25 December 2014

My First Try at Composing

It was around early September 2011, nearly one year after Papa passed away and I was still at our little home in the south, struggling to cope without him in things for him. The management and administration of his Estate was a mess and I began investigating, researching and studying all possible laws, pertaining to Deceased Estates.

My hope to have moved his ashes to his place of birth as he wished for and asked me to, couldn’t realize yet. His voice was still in this world, ignored by some others whom he trusted. I knew I have to do how Papa taught me. But it was tough, I often felt terribly alone.

With this awful background, still traumatized in a way since I could not exactly bury my dear Father, I’d listen to the music in my heart and head. My good old friend music.

I was watching something on TV one evening and saw a little thingy with a small screen on which music script appears. I then remembered many years ago a computer keyboard with a type pad on one side and piano keys on the other side. And I have a laptop and a desktop…..

Goodness knows what words I used to google to try and find something with which I could play sound into my computer. I then already thought that I could play all the melodies of various instruments with an electronic organ or whatever, and then layer all the melodies one by one and either record it on tape or maybe, just maybe I can do it with a computer.

If only I knew what it is called, but I’ll find it because then I knew SOMETHING of the kind existed.

With determination I searched the web and within a few days I found programs called notation software. There were two and I could download it on a trial basis to use for 30 days. I saved the website, did as much other work to cover the next 30 days of my life for I was going to download those two programs and going to use those 30 days to figure them out.

The easiest one at the time seemed to have been PrintMusic from the Finale stables. With it I could get the “little lines” and there were other gizmos that I will be able to learn somehow. All I really need to get going.

Thank goodness that I am computer savvy as well. I soon enough figured out the program.

I know my music, its been with me for many years and the first one I went for was a song that came to me during 1984 one day, when my daughter was in her second school year. This was triggered off while I was baby sitting another little boy a bit younger than her.

Since it was my daughter that caused me to listen to my own music again even already when I knew about the wonder of life growing in me, I had to honor this piece that became so loud when I saw the little lines in front of me.

I chose various instrument – trying to find the sounds of the full song in my heart. It took me around 16 hours over four days to get the piece together. It didn’t sound great with the laptop’s sounds and I still had earphones from Air France which I’d hook over my ears to listen to playback. My poor ears were hurting like nothing as they were squeezed between those phones and my spectacles but I’d not even realize it while I was working.

After finishing this piece, another old one was ready to go onto the little lines and a few days later I finished African Morning Song.

I was quite chuffed with the results and thought to get a dukebox to connect to my laptop for better listening. I wanted to hear it over speakers. Those were not very expensive at the local Cash Converters shop at Kroonstad. I still took our neighbor who has been a piano teacher in her young life with for a lunch at the local Wimpy bar and afterwards we strolled via this shop.

Oh, and I saw those lovely big headphones with cushions, very cheap as well and couldn’t resist. So there I was with Auntie Tiny, walking back to the apartment, carrying my precious shopping. We were both exited to listen.

(urgh, this darn weather is raining on my eyes now)

I connected the dukebox to the laptop and hit the playback button. We were silent, I was blown away. Tiny had goosebumps. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing MY SONG, MY HEART was pouring out of those speakers. My dream came true, I could hear my music with my ears with big orchestra for the first time of my life.

I bought the program, nothing was going to stop me to pursue these tracks of my life. I still send the two songs to my long time Facebook Friend Lorraine Mavis Tsang who taught music at a university at the time, eager to hear where and how I can improve. I was not shy to share my humble work with a dear friend.

Her reply knocked me out - she simply said: “You have to share something so beautiful with the world”. I was waiting to hear what I could do better and there she was hearing it as best already, good enough to be shared with the world.

I was elated, especially when recalling many years ago having tried to speak with a university lecturer in Namibia, about my music. This chap said my music is typical night club style. I tried to hear music then as being night club in a variety of styles but it wouldn’t work. A night club couldn’t possibly accommodate all the melodies.

I began a few more old songs afterwards but couldn’t continue since I had to focus on my Dad’s interests after I discovered people were withholding information from me and even lied and tried to intimidate me.

Back home in Norway again, I tried again to continue with my music, but time was not working out well enough. I worked on a variation of Silent Night, Holy Night of Franz Xavier, imagining how it was in those very old days when that star was shining so bright, wondering what the animals experienced. I finished it eventually and uploaded it on YouTube with a bit of animation where it still is. I’m leaving it there as a reminder. It is not perfect yet as to how I hear it, and will eventually rearrange it with new knowledge.

During 2013 I realized that both my first and second compositions are only preludes to big stories. At times I’d listen the African Morning Song and suddenly remembered the whole story. I began touching the other chapters but could not figure it all out yet. Then I realized the prelude has the Morning Rain story and I had to separate it. I removed the original one from YouTube, feeling a bit stupid about the messy piece of music. (but then I’d remember what Lorraine told me and felt good again) I realized that it is my music and it is in my power to make it as I wish, make it true to what it is in me.

And then, 25 December 2013 I gave in to music and ever since use all possible spare time I have, to compose.

And I’ve been a bit of a maverick in between as well – found I can release music with Zimbalam and before the end of January my whole African Morning Song in seven movements was out in the world. I was working each bit of time I had, on that one, knowing by then it’s a symphony and believed its okay after I’d finish the fourth chapter. It was not and eventually three more chapters later, I knew it was done. Frantic weeks those during early January 2014.

I even wrote this my first symphony in for a competition during March 2014, purely to let more experienced music folks hear it. I was curious as to what others think. It was quite an experience because it had been accepted and I was surprised. Of course, since one has to pay for entries into that competition and that is the way they’d have an income to eventually support the overall winner. The main concept of what they do is a great idea since there are fantastic performing artists out in the world that do need a chance in a music life.

I don’t mind having paid when I think that the young pianist that won is having a dream come true. She really plays beautiful and I remember when she was announced as the winner, her breathless excitement, I could almost hear her heart beating like that of a little bird.

I do mind that the organizers never send me the judges’ comments (which I paid for as well) and I do mind the pathetic master class (which I also paid for) left me with absolutely no knowledge, rather do I feel I was the one that gave this class. But then, I have to also realize that these qualified musicians were mostly performing artists, not creating artists. And few performing artists ever get into the soul of the creating artist whose work they perform. This goes even for big symphony orchestras where conductors rather interpret their ways in stead of what the composer intended.

One comment at least brought a new music to me, one where I could feel my nails grow… cattish and sarcastic. I measured my hand on a keyboard to see how many notes I can hit in one go with a flat hand and there I was hitting chords of a different kind on my own tra-la-la rhythm. I eventually learned that this is also some music style which gets plenty oohs and aahs but in my opinion it is the way a talented child will begin playing while it will search for the correct notes. It has some art but it is far from the complex combinations of various voices becoming one song.

This then was my first try at composing followed by my first try at other things in this great world of music.

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