SCP #23: There Is A Song
As I start to write this it's just gone 1am. I think every song so far has been written and recorded before midnight, but today I didn't set up my camera until well after 12am. I started working on the song at about 8pm with lots of enthusiasm, but that quickly turned to frustration and I spent far too long langushing in pages of failed ideas.
My starting point from yesterday was pearls, and I found all sorts of interesting bits of information in my research that could have led me in a hundred different directions. I had to pick one, however. I dug back into the Encyclopaedia of Folklore, Superstitions and the Occult Sciences and pulled out "Never sing before putting on pearls, or you will shed bitter tears.". It was such a bizarre bit of superstition, and worded in an intriguingly matter-of-fact way that I was sure it would lead me somewhere good. I had visions of writing a storytelling folk song about a woman who sings before she puts on her pearls and then gets into strife, but I just couldn't make it work.
I'm realising that putting these songs together is a little like op-shopping (or thrift shopping for any American readers I might have). If you walk into an op shop with a very specific idea about what you want (a red party dress or a pair of perfectly fitting black trousers) you're bound to leave disappointed. But if you wander in with an open mind and no fixed goals you are far more likely to find something perfect and unexpected, and that you never would have known you wanted at the beginning of your shopping trip. I definitely approached this one with too fixed an idea about what I wanted the end product to be, and it was blinding me to all the other possibilities that my experiments were throwing up. These are the kinds of moments when negative self talk creeps in, and suddenly you are a failure as a musician and by extension a person. If I didn't have this daily deadline I probably would have given up in frustration, but I'm glad I pushed through.
So after not being able to get the song in my mind out, I wrote a song about not being able to get the song in my mind out. I kept the references to song and pearls from the Folklore Encyclopaedia entry, although the pearls became beads in the final piece.
For those who are interested in the musical nuts and bolts, I did a little more serial composition today. For the harmony I took the letters in the word pearls and assigned them a number based on their position in the alphabet. For any numbers over 12 I took their sum (eg 16 became 7). I then did a simple C=0, C#=1, D=2 etc, and assigned each number a pitch. I ended up with basically a melodic minor scale, and used that to form the harmonic basis of song. This was a fairly difficult one for me to work with, as I'm not so familiar with melodic minor harmony, and it took me a while to find my feet.