The creative process is a fascinating thing. Inspiration can strike at any time and deciding to tap into it can lead you down a rewarding but daunting path sometimes. Recently I decided to embrace more music technology. I have always been interested but the learning curve is time consuming and can be overwhelming.
Having invested in some software that would allow me to do new things both as a performer and recording artist I immediately tried to delve into learning and hopefully making music. With a busy family and work life everything quickly came to a halt which can be the kiss of death for such endeavors. A few months later, lamenting about the situation I decided that if I had a specific project planned that incorporated the new tech, I would be more likely to see to learning and acquiring the skills needed to use the technology.
That innocent spark sent me quickly through the creative process, which to me is three things. curiosity, imagination and play. Simple problem solving or layers and layers of simple problem solving equals a big mess! I decided I would write a multi movement piece based on the exploration of meditation. Having explored various types of meditation over the years, I thought it would be interesting to try and bring that to music. I decided the name would be “Meditations on Consciousness” and that each movement would “describe” different states of the meditation process.
As I explored the possible states of consciousness another angle emerged. Social consciousness. What better way to explore these states than to actually meditate on real life issues! I am not a political person. I am an observer by nature. Over the years I can see so many people struggling and hurting for many different reasons. I thought what if I provided a spark for listeners to create their own meditation while the music is playing and they can explore their own consciousness. I thought maybe a visual component would add to the experience and started to brainstorm having visual art pieces being projected throughout that might help connect to the music. Maybe students, amateurs and professionals.
Quickly the concept and instrumentation grew. First a jazz quartet with electronics sounded innocent and interesting enough. But what if I added a string quartet? Tabla and or world percussion? Oh a rapper/spoken word performer! If I use a rapper I will need to add more electronics, maybe my son who produces hip hop music! If I wasn’t convinced of my insanity already, here was all the proof I needed!
My hope for music is that it helps to bring a sense of community, bringing people together of differing backgrounds for a common good. Having a background in using the arts for community building, conflict transformation as well as therapeutic experiences, I decided to add this as a component as well. To me maybe combining classical, jazz, hip-hop and free improvisation would build bridges of understanding so we can see other perspectives and develop empathy. Inspired , for sure. Daunting? We are just getting started!
Next step? How am I going to make all of this happen?!!!! In order to make a worthwhile project there needs to be a reason to make the music. Performances, recording, something to have it come to life. I thought if I am truly trying to make bridges, I need to find a way to have performances that bring the music to those who might never have such an experience. My first thought was young people. In order to do that I will need a grant in order to afford to pay the musicians and all of the overhead involved so that students will not have to pay. I also quickly realized that bringing the music to multiple locations (urban, rural, etc) would also fit into this plan of building bridges. All of this and I still don’t even have music!
Luckily I had a pretty good idea of the shape of what I wanted for each movement but I was nervous about writing for strings which I had only one a little of in the past. I began writing the third movement first. It would be a repetitive loop of string chords that would develop into having a melody then electronics would take over the basic string parts as the strings begin to expand into minimalist improvisation. As the electronics develop into a groove, the rapper would begin and eventually the music would develop back into strings playing new chords setting up resolution and fading out. Concept…check. Music…. Partial check. I did manage to write a big portion of the string parts and can now see the potential. Technology will have to wait to be added. I still have to learn how to use it!
Having a basic idea of the whole piece now and some of the material I am feeling good about the musical part. Originally that was the part that needed solving. Now one problem leads to the next challenge. Logistics! There is soooo much more to be done besides completing the piece. Raising money, booking venues, promoting, booking the musicians, oh yeah all of the music prep too… Stay tuned!