Songwriting Series: #10

“Inner Mosaic,” the last song in this Songwriting Series, is probably the most serious song yet, venturing into broken, as well as lost, love. I can’t really say that this song arose from experience, since I’ve never suffered from lost love (or even having one, for that matter). The bitterness and longing for a broken past to be whole and true again is a thematic idea that’s pretty popular in dramas and epic romance stories. I thought that I’d give a shot at it (and quickly found that it was pretty emotionally exhausting to put words down and sing the lyrics).

The song is subtlety different from “RETRY” (which sort of deals with a similar topic), not carrying a call to action or interior message. It laments on the confusion and resultant conflict caused by true love gone wrong. The title, as well as the modulation to the chorus, attempts to evoke a sense of skeptical hope constantly mixed with pained longing.

From a composition standpoint, the piece was relatively easy to arrange, though slightly harder to compose. The left hand merely arppegiates chords in climbing motions, then teeters back down (eighth notes followed by half notes), and the melody Is traced with the right hand, occasionally responding to the vocal line. As the piece was originally created for voice and piano, I focused greatly on forming a vocal line that was simple and easy to sing. I realized quickly [pullquote_left]As the piece was originally created for voice and piano, I focused greatly on forming a vocal line that was simple and easy to sing.[/pullquote_left]that slight syncopation and off beat note changes in vocal lines make a melody more ‘catchy.’ As opposed to “Not Enough,” whose melody sounds more akin to a lyrical instrument, “Inner Mosaic” properly addresses several vocal composition problems I faced in earlier projects.

To address who played the piano, it was roughly the equivalent of 2-4 Christophers. For those of you familiar with me, I do not possess the piano chops to play piano ballads, as much as I would like. Sure, I twiddle dwiddle on the piano once in the while, especially when I don’t want to practice on the cello, but my coordination and dexterity don’t lend themselves to being able to play like any of the other pianists I know. Regardless, that didn’t stop me from my mission, and I used the 21st century’s miracle of electronic instruments to my advantage.

I already had the main structure of the piece realized in written form (sadly, I don’t have at it anymore. not sure where it went), and the melodic line had already been recorded via MIDI, so I played out both hands of the piano separately. As I mentioned before, the part was relatively simple to map out, tracing the chord progression with the left hand in arppegios, and then following the melody with the right, with some modifications to add color. The process involved recording several times, as I messed up both hands frequently, but once I had a take with the least amount of takes yet, I stuck with it and edited the notes in the MIDI editor. Additional awkwardness in phrasing and dynamics were also fixed in the MIDI editor. Ah, the wonders of technology.

The lyrics themselves were relatively difficult to finalize. Often, when writing lyrics to a song, a lyricist or composer falls into the trap of becoming too familiar with his piece, completely alienating himself/herself from listening to the song objectively from the ears of a new listener. I constantly asked myself if the words made sequential sense, if they rolled off the tongue well, and if stress syllabus were appropriate. Even after revisiting this song several weeks later, I find I’m personally quite happy with the final result, as they seem more like song lyrics than my previous songs. This is also one of the [pullquote_right]Even if pain and wounds disappear over time, one cannot help but still cry from reality’s own cruelty.[/pullquote_right]few times I’ve implemented a repeating chorus, and to my remarkable surprise, the lack of new words and freshness in lyrics that I normally desire with non-identical chorus lyrics, give the the song greater emotional weight every time the chorus is called upon.

The final line of the main choruses, ‘It’s just really a love world” was written as intentionally ambiguous. However, adopting the lense of a love-torn person, we can suddenly see a drastically different prioritization of certain world aspects. In this case, we see just how powerful and influential emotions, familial or romantic, can be in changing one’s life. Even if pain and wounds disappear over time, one cannot help but still cry from reality’s own cruelty. However, the playing of emotions is not over, since hope is a human emotion that lingers for eternity, regardless of the situation. This desire for the better can ultimately be played with, and it’s this exact slightly sadist concept that is played with, not only in lyrics, but composition.

At the end of the piece there is an accelerando that creates a momentary excitement. The additional modulation from a minor to g minor (I actually chose these keys b/c their relative major keys are infinitely easier keys to play in) convey a wish for happiness, but such hope is quickly stifled when the song ends by sitting on the leading tone’s diminished seventh and meandering slowly to the g tonic, only to end the piece on the inconclusive dominant. Sound lingers, slowly fading out, leaving it up to the listener to forge his or her own acceptance of the circumstances.


Inner Mosaic (2012) Lyrics

Inner Mosaic (2012)

By Christopher Hsing

Certain words were pierced through you
It kept me waiting here to hear what’s true
And from your wound I saw a fluid flow
And to describe it right, I’d call it so: “Our broken love”

The lack of sympathy and tears I shed
And all the love we make it feels so dead
They’re so unsavory these ties we share
And it describes us well, but do you care?
“I’m still in love with you,” really?

Isn’t it fine to say we were in love?
Even if you are gone I can’t feel new love at all
Isn’t this what they all call “destiny”
It will fade, disappear, it’s just really a love world

It will end and I will go
And all that just because I’m sick of you
Not knowing if it’s love, or if it’s lust
It doesn’t matter now, I won’t discuss

The lack of sympathy and tears I shed
And all the love we make it feels so dead
They’re so unsavory these ties we share
And it describes us well, but do you care?
But that is fine with me, really!

So I suppose we really were in love
Even if times were hard we were clinging from the start
Isn’t it fine to take my life from me?
Since I do, yes I do, I really dislike you

Isn’t it fine to say we were in love?
Even if you are gone I can’t feel new love at all
Isn’t this what they all call “destiny”
It will fade, disappear, it’s just really a love world

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