All of my life I was surrounded by classical music. I was in classical choirs, I trained in classical vocal, I was in bands that played classical music and all of the piano pieces I knew how to play were classical. (Well other than the few Evanescence songs I learned from my sister’s piano book.
I started writing music when I was 9. My dad found a music notation program (which I can’t remember the name of) and I would sit in the church basement writing music on his old laptop. The program was very limited though. It only gave me the option to write for piano with no dynamics, no key changes, and no musical articulation. I’d like to say I wrote a few good songs I was proud of, but I never let anyone hear anything until I was 13 (when I posted a video of me singing The Monster in Me on YouTube.)
I wouldn’t say that I’ve ever been confident in my music. I’ve always called it too simple and strived to write pieces with more than just a piano or an instrument that plays the lead while the piano underscores.
In junior high, I joined a small orchestra that consisted of a Cello, Violins, Flutes, a Trumpet, a Clarinet, and percussion. For a few years, I tried to arrange popular songs like Walking in the Air, Noël C’est L’amour, Nemo, My Immortal, the list goes on and on. I would say I did a decent job of it, although I will also admit… I always gave the flutes the melody since I was a flute player. I would analyse the sheet music that was generated from midi tracks to see how to make proper chords and cadences, but I never had the courage to try it for myself.
When I got to high school I started dabbling in writing choral music using Finale. It was a program that allowed me to write music with fewer limitations, but since I didn’t have the money to buy the full version I could only write for about 4 instruments at a time without key changes and certain musical markings.
I would always pitch my songs to my teachers asking if I could hear our class sing the songs, although never was I given the opportunity to hear my songs since the teachers were more interested in us singing Fauré, Bach or Handel. It wasn’t until my final year of high school where I got to create my own final project where I chose to write one flute quartet piece, an SSA choral piece, and a flute solo accompanied by piano. All three pieces I was proud of, and I actually got a chance to hear what my music sounded like when humans played it instead of playback from a computer.
When I got into college my music writing started to decrease. At this point, I had written about 30+ songs that were piano/voice, but I never dived back into orchestral writing until about a week ago. I mean, I did try my hand at layering instruments when recording Distant Star, but I wouldn’t say that it was to my full potential as it was so early on in my “producing” career.
This week, I’m really proud of myself. I just got finished writing 3 songs with a minimum of 8 instruments. They are each unique, have classical roots, and I can’t believe I came up with them.
I don’t know how in depth I can talk about them since they’re for Calpurnia, but let me tell you… I can’t wait to see them underscore the actors on stage! It’s been exhilarating to let my fears go and just get to writing and I really think it’s a step in the right direction.
For years I’ve woken up from dreams where orchestras are playing my music, but I’ve never given myself the opportunity to get them down on paper. Sheet music has always been a bit difficult for me since when I play the piano I don’t think in time signatures and often break the rules of music. Honestly, I rarely even play with a metronome (even when recording) because I find it annoying and counterproductive, but I think it’s time that I start at least until I get the hang of recording music in perfect time.
I also think it’s time I start letting go of my anxieties as a musician and let myself explore the sounds I want to create. Just because I think there are limitations, it doesn’t mean they are there. I can always find a way to work around them. I’m proud of myself today and I thought I would share that with you. Here’s to more complicated music coming your way in 2018.