Songwriting Series: #3

By | Impressions, Introspective, Music, UVa | One Comment

Several weeks into the semester, my MUSI3370 course, otherwise known as songwriting, we were tasked to compose lyrics to our own original song. Previous projects required us to either rewrite lyrics to an already existing chord progression, or recompose a chord structure to old lyrics. With full creative liberties, we were allowed to write and compose about anything we so desired, and my project, took a strange turn during it’s development.

If this song were to be categorized, it’d probably be a ballad, from the looks of lyrics, though I will admit, that the style and mood I was aiming for was totally not in that area. I would even go as far to say that it’s a lamenting ballad; though there is no death, it’s a song questioning one’s own purpose in life, or expressing confusion and agony over not being able to understand oneself to a reasonable level. My exposure, outside of this class, to popular music in English has been fairly limited, and I’ve never been a lyrics person (most of my music has no lyrics or lyrics in a foreign language that I don’t understand). Thus, it probably goes without saying that my perception of what kind of song this is might be a bit inaccurate.

As I mentioned before, I had no intention of building a moody, somewhat slow-paced song; I was hoping to end up with a heartily felt song with a quickstep mood. Ideally, I wanted to be able to sing the song while I walk to class, with a light strut in my step. Though the majority of the piece ends up being a bit downtrodden and not entirely happy, that shouldn’t stop the song from having a slightly upbeat style.

That probably even reveals that the penultimate goal of the song is to realize that the right thing to do is move forward. In terms of design, the song is about not remaining static. The gradual of different and similar instruments towards the end creates a thicker, supportive atmosphere for which the vocalist can sing stronger and more confidently. There are moments, such as the musical interlude, where the musical intensity skyrockets, reminiscent of the creative and inspirational bursts we carry within us. The two main instruments in this piece are the harp and piano (with strings serving both a lyrical and supportive purpose); the harp’s resonance and sensitive timbre make the song more friendly, while the piano’s percussion-like keys give its intention and drive. Short responses, trills, and flourishes by the piano and harp add charm, wit, and youth. Additionally, the piano’s and harp’s ability to easily and naturally play arpeggios allow the piece to have momentary sweeps in sound and range, offering another dimension and dynamic to the composition. The ending of the piece swells in great climax, inviting all the instruments to reenter in one final exclamation of purpose, and resolves with not a battle or victory call, but more of an inner satisfaction and settling of previous troubles.

I attempted to maintain an ABCA verse and bridge rhyming scheme, as well as an AA or BB chorus scheme. I’m not sure if the chorus is too short, it probably is, but I wanted the chorus to be a progressively changing arrival of a repeated action, reflecting a gradual morphing as the song continues. In order for this to work, I felt it should be used sparsely, maybe even only twice. In terms of syllables per line, I planned on mirroring line length between lines that rhyme. I never did consider how syllables would influence or fit into the song in context to singing a line and phrase, but I suppose we’ll work on that as we go along.

The words are quite personal, but not to the degree that I’m embarrassed to discuss it. It’s always been a challenge for me (and still is) to discover what I should be doing in life. I used this song as a form of dialogue for myself, and no one in particular. I attempted to draw images with words that envision space and weight. Perhaps I mention everything from the perspective myself too often, and that doesn’t allow listeners to implant their own experiences into my song, but according to some people I showed this too, there was such an issue. They even went as far as to say that the song was really ambiguous, which it is to a degree.

My normal composition style, in retrospect, is composing/improving (to the best of my ability) via a piano keyboard, building upon a certain sequence of chord progressions that sound pretty stable. Using the MIDI input capabilities of a program like Logic Pro, allows me to transpose the chords into a different tonal key and obtain various tone colors. Schubert once described the key of E minor as a ‘maiden with a lily upon her breast’ (lulz) and Rachmaninov found D major a golden brown colour. Though I’m not a synesthete myself, and pretty much am unable to really objectively decide which tonal key sounds better, it is easy to notice that keys do sound different.  Read More

Songwriting Series: #2

By | Impressions, Introspective, Music, UVa | No Comments

“I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry” is a song written and recorded by American country music singer-songwriter Hank Williams in 1949. The song about loneliness was largely inspired by his troubled relationship with wife Audrey Sheppard. With evocative lyrics, such as the opening lines “Hear that lonesome whip-poor-will/He sounds too blue to fly,” the song has been covered by a wide range of musicians.

Rolling Stone ranked it #111 on their list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. It is the second oldest song on the list, and one of only two from the 1940s. Here’s a youtube link for anyone interested in taking a peek at the original. Read More

Songwriting Series: #1

By | Impressions, Introspective, Music, UVa | No Comments

And welcome to the first entry of my Songwriting Series. This series is an effort to slowly, but surely, work my way through (almost) all the songs/compositions I worked on in class for MUSI3370: Songwriting during the 2012 Spring Semester at UVA. I will try my best to recall past memories and describe the process in which each song came to fruition (some riper than others). Each song has a very different origin and method of development; some were group projects, while others were not. Some had nearly infinite time devoted to its completion (or incompletion) while others were under the grinding time ax. Looking back, it’s laughable to see the range of quality my songs possessed, but regardless of the final outcome, I learned a great deal during the semester and have been inspired in many ways to perhaps continue composing and writing, time permitting.

So without further ado, I’d like to present Goodnight Mr. Jefferson.

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Internet #003:

By | Internet, Music, Review | No Comments

In high school, I was a pretty conservative music listener. Rarely did I expose myself to the modern pop music, and even when friends would share their ear pieces to show me a particular song, I’d immediately express distate and say how I only listened to classical music. After many years of watching anime and movies, my taste has grown, reflecting the relatively wide amount of styles of music that Japan has. It’s strange to think how I began to expand my musical tastes started with whatever an anime show had attached to the opening or ending sequences. To be honest, my first “rock” song was Haruka Kanata from Naruto. Though it can still be considered J-Pop, the screaming and intense bass rocking edges towards the side of J-Rock. I didn’t particularly like the music at first, but the animation sequence and series itself got me hooked on the mood that Asian Kung Fu Generation set for every episode. From then on, anime slowly introduced me to slightly different styles (you can imagine how romance shojo would use different music styles than jump shounen). I still listen to mainly J-Pop, but my tastes have grown to soundtracks, jazz, a capella, K-Pop, and the occasional western artist of today, such as Adele or Train. Read More

Outburts #015: 2012 Winter Playlist

By | Anime, Impressions, Music, Outbursts, Review | No Comments

Make way for a new year and make way for yet another seasonal playlist. These playlists, I found, have provided me with incentives in discovering and learning new music that I otherwise would not have, or at the very least, listen for music where I normally do not. A similar effect occurred after having taken my Music and Computers course this fall semester; I had consequently become more aware and sensitive to the sounds in my daily life. It is both strange and wondrous to have your world opened in such a vast way with only a small paradigm shift. Now, while the music I will present here is not eye-opening at all (perhaps for another time), hopefully the melodies and styles will evoke certain feelings and emotions within your gut.

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Outburst #013: WORLD ORDER

By | Impressions, Music, Outbursts | One Comment

Introduced to me by heywire, 「WORLD ORDER」 is an unconventional “music and dance” group from Japan led by former mixed-martial-arts master Genki Sudo and boy are they great to watch. Their latest music video, “2012” is, again, hypnotic and wonderful to listen to. This most recent installment, however, acts more as a mood-setter, not sporting the same melodic head-beating that was induced with their previous “Machine Civilization,” thus making it a refreshing and welcome addition to 「WORLD ORDER」 ‘s ever-growing repertoire and discography.   Read More

Outburst #009: 2011 Fall Playlist – Part 2

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And without further adieu, here is Part 2 of the 2011 Fall Playlist. As I completed my descriptions for each piece, I noticed how strangely acoustic and more orchestral this set of pieces were. The identifying separation of styles was honestly unintended; so, despite possessing less variety of genre, this list is still wonderful and I hope you listen to each song from beginning to end. A lot of times, I click on a song and close it after losing interest in the first few seconds. Many of these pieces have wonderful developmental sections and even portions that are more of the core song. I highly recommend just clicking the play button and letting go.

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Outburst #007: 2011 Fall Playlist – Part 1

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OK, I might be one day late (Sept. 23 was the official day), but Fall/Autumn has just arrived, and with it, another year of classes! I mean, we can’t all have too much fun, so here’s some homework for everyone to listen while we sunbathe with textbooks and lecture notes.

Fall is pretty dominated by loads of coursework and social excursions, and though it’d be pretty simple to split this season’s music into two distinct sections (such as work/non-work), I thought it might be more insightful to just provide fewer songs with personal statements as to why each one feels special and appropriate to have a spot on the playlist. Upon realizing that after sufficient commenting on each piece amounted to a massive wall of text, I decided to split this Fall Playlist post into two parts (with no real intentional split/divide between the two). I thought that it would be easier to digest each post separately rather than all in one. Read More

The Crying Cloud

By | Introspective, Music, Video Game | No Comments

A recent health fiasco invaded our house this past weekend, so I didn’t get a chance to sit down and brain dump into a blog post as I usually do on weekends. I plan on writing up a mini-update about it in the near future, but for now, I’ll offer those of you with appetites with a small poem that I dug out of an old poem anthology I compiled in 7th grade. Read More

Outburst #002: 2011 Summer Playlist

By | Experimental, Introspective, Music, Outbursts | One Comment

We’re roughly one week into the 2011 Summer and I thought it’d be a cool thing to do amidst this hot weather to compile a quick top five (x4) summer song playlist of the songs I listen to the most. My taste for music doesn’t change much seasonally, but songs like Winter Wonderland (something I can listen to on an infinite loop) definitely are more appropriate during the month of December. My personal preference lies in songs/pieces that are infused with a happy or snappy tune/beat; it allows me to maintain a certain level on my happy-meter (though you wouldn’t be able to tell from this stoic face of mine), thus helping me feel more energized for the day. I also tend to listen to songs with foreign lyrics ultimately since English words greatly distract me while I work.

I’m somewhat of a stickler for organized album folder on my computer and PlayStation Portable, but for convenience sake, I’ve organized the set into four general modes: energizer, casual, work, and mushy music. They are ordered in no particular order. Read More