Music composition is a wonderful art form in that a composer starts with only a thought and eventually completes that thought with musical elements. The composer begins with nothing and as the piece evolves, its direction and growth seems to change not by the ability of the composer but more from the guidance from the piece itself. Just as a new born begins to develop through guidance from its parent, so does a musical composition grow to fruition through help from its composer. The composer’s only responsibility is record this evolution in musical term.
Each time I complete a new arrangement or composition, I marvel at this process. It begins with only a hint of the direction the music will take and as each piece unfolds, I am there only to notate which direction it wants to go. Some of these paths are influenced by melodic progression and some are following a course of harmonic tendencies.
Such was the case for this most recent project which I have named “Reflections”.
Reflections began as a project to be entered in a national composer’s competition. When I first came up with a concept of what I wanted to submit, it began as a song not a trumpet solo. As each note was dictated to me by the song itself, I realized that the lyrics needed to be sung by a female with strong elements of vulnerability in her voice. After the melody was written I followed with what I felt was a strong harmonic structure which would add to the emotions of the piece.
The next pass through this writing process required the addition of the text which again tended to lead me through the creation process. Each phrase pointed me to the next and so forth. Common logic could be given credit for this progression but in my mind, the piece itself constantly gave me ideas and direction as it developed itself.
Once the piece had been completed, I invited a very good friend and fellow musician to record the vocal part for me. Unfortunately, my colleague declined the offer citing that the lyrics were much too close to her real life experiences and she could not get through the song without emotional conflicts. So there I was with a song and no one to sing it.
“Reflections” sat on my desktop for several weeks and I had almost forgotten it when one day I noticed the folder and started replaying it again. What began as a vocal feature seemed to tell me that I needed to get it out so I recorded the vocal part on trumpet. After listening to the recording for a couple days, I knew something was wrong and rerecorded it on flugle horn; that again was something directed by the song itself. The trumpet was much too strong for a song written for a rejected female voice and after redoing it on flugle, I knew the instrument change was a much better choice.
Now I had a song originally written for a female vocalist which was now rewritten for a flugel horn. I listed to the recording for a couple days and still was not sure what to do with it. Yesterday our daughter and her family visited and because I have complete confidence in my daughters musical taste, I asked her to give me her first impression of the piece. In no more than four measures of the playback she said, “that sounds like a wedding processional”. Bingo! As soon as she shared her thoughts, I knew that this was what the composition should be used for.
For those interested in composing and arranging, be sure to listen to the piece itself for trying to force your thoughts on a new composition is like trying to “push a car up a hill with a rope”.
The perfect wedding processional!
Posted by The Trumpet Blog on Monday, June 12, 2017