Songwriting Series: #4

Short and sweet, this assignment was. After having sunk so much time into trying to finish “Finding You,” inevitable exhaustion kept me from devoting an equal amount of effort into the subsequent project. However, not all is lost. Though I could no fathom sitting down and layering instruments for very long, I decided to tackle the recording with a new focus on singing. Oh yeah~ First recording ever, with Christopher singing? Bring it on!

To be honest, though, I actually spent forty minutes trying to record my voice. The single stanza of lyrics proved to be a force of evil and never let me leave the technosonics room since each take seemed to get progressively worse. Regardless, I learned a lot during the process. I had never really sung seriously before, as my parents probably can attest to. They’ve regaled me with stories of olden years, painting pictures of my childhood, and not all are rose n’ tulips.

STORY TIME!

It’s argued over whether learning music at an earlier age (perhaps even during stages in the mother’s womb) attribute to a person’s sense of pitch/musicality. My opinion is that it doesn’t hurt to start early. And that’s what my mom thought too. When I was four, my exposure to music was limited. My parents played Beethoven to me every night via CD (wow…meta-ancient technology) and cassette (holy, even more antique!), but I hadn’t started formal training in music. I mean, at age four, what is there to do? My mother tells me, “When you were young, all you did was play. If you didn’t play, you would sleep. That’s all you ever did. Play and sleep.” Doesn’t seem very different from the present.

A close friend family of ours, the Pung family, have a daughter named ***** (let’s call her V, for short). V was taking music training via a Yamaha class in a nearby district. When my mom discovered that the Pungs had already sent V to these Yamaha lessons for several months (if you think about it, at four years old, a couple months is a significant portion of my life), my mother panicked. Ah! My son is ruined forever!  Must sign up!

And with that, my mom signed me up for these Yamaha lessons where they teach you the C major scale, how to read and write notes on a staff, and how to sing songs. It was several weeks into my first lessons when the teacher asked me, “Christopher, can you draw a whole  note on C?”

“Why?” I quibbled.

If you don’t already know, I’ve been stubborn since birth. I was a pretty picky eater, was nicknamed Mr. No for my aptitude to refuse things I didn’t want to do. The time out corner and I were best friends as a kid.

“Christopher, can you draw it for me?”

“Why?” I repeated. “Why are you asking me?”

“You don’t know, do you?” the teacher asked. “It’s OK if you don’t know, Christopher. Let me know if you don’t. Otherwise, will you draw a C?”

“I don’t want to.”

If that weren’t indication enough, we had to sing songs that involved saying “Monkey~, Jungle~, Chuu-chuu-chuu~” and wallop around like insane animals at a party.

“Time for Monkey Monkey!” the teacher would exclaim.

The children would run wildly to the center of the room, leaping and bounding about like lunatics. I sat in the corner with arms crossed and said, “No!” I was already an anti-conformist at age four, man.

My resistance didn’t stop there. There’s a children’s chorus called Glorystar, which has young children between the ages of 5-18, sing. An organization like this is similar to youth orchestra, except for voice, and if you can believe it or not, I was a part of Glorystar…

…for about a month.

My mother was a singer in high school, college, and beyond. Being a singer, she thought that I’d have some musical chops and sent me to Glorystar to audition with Christopher Lu, a close friend of mine. During the audition,  a lady asked us to sing Row Row Your Boat. Christopher (the other one) passed with flying colors. I failed. I don’t have any recollection of this, mind you; just a mother’s stories being passed on.

To make a long story short, Christopher Lu got accepted and I didn’t. I got in, however, because the director was sympathetic and couldn’t turn away a cute chubby face like mine (not). I promptly left/got kicked out about a month later since I ended up dragging the rest of the ensemble off key by obnoxiously singing louder and more off pitch than anyone else. Leadership skills right there.

That was the beginning of my music career and now I’m a music major. lol.

Even to this day, I can’t really sing in tune. I’ve definitely tried a bit more seriously than when I was four, but never having actually sung along with songs until college doesn’t necessarily help with vocal accuracy. So I slaved away in the recording room well passed 3AM, belching as round of a sound as I could into the microphone. I discovered halfway through that breathing at the right times and breathing deeply/quickly made everything after sound a lot better. I also worked on enunciating, as I realized I tended to drop syllables from time to time.

The end result was short, strange, and strangely gratifying, though I will admit, that I have a hard time listening to myself, especially the last two lines where I use three of my tracks simultaneously. Anyway, this post was pretty long for a one-stanza recording. Hope it was entertaining.

We were asked to take the stanza from “Lost in the Supermarket” by The Clash and rewrite our own melody/chords. When I found the original recording, I was surprised with how different it sounded. To be honest, though, I was struggling to choose a key to play it in, so I asked Christine to give me a key and she chose d minor (I think). So I ran with it.


Lyrics

I wasn’t born so much as I fell out
Nobody seemed to notice me
We had a hedge back home in a suburb
Over which I never could see

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