July 5, 2012

Lemon Balm and Whiskey

Different music comes about in different ways, often in ways I don’t entirely understand. This is the story of how two of my tunes were created.
composing music
My Dad died about three years ago. He was a musician, guitar mainly, and the person who first showed me how to get sound out of the flute (although he didn’t really play flute, just knew the basics). After he died, I went outside and played. The tunes were fairly short, slow and moody, not too surprisingly, and so was most of the music I played for a bit after that. A few months later, I took my Dad’s car (which I inherited) to get an oil change. One of the mechanics at the garage is also a musician and was asking me about some of my flutes. Since I was going to play a show later, I had the glass piccolo with me so I pulled it out and played a little for the guys in the garage. For the first time in several months I felt like playing something at least a little less sad. What came out of the picc as a result was the first couple of phrases of “Lament’s Balm.” It took forever for me to figure out this was the piece’s name, and I called it that-garage-tune to myself for more than a year. I liked the tune right off and worked with it right away. Within a week it developed a companion tune that was fairly bouncy, energetic and builds to end on the second highest note the glass picc can play. I quickly named the second tune “I’m Not Dead Yet, Pass the Whiskey Please” which was directly inspired from one of the last poems in my Dad’s journal. The two tunes traveled together for about half a year so very firmly I thought I might not need to name the first tune at all. Then they abruptly split into two independent pieces. I sometimes still play them together but they are no longer permanently joined.
lemon balm blossoms, Melissa
Lemon Balm Blossoms-Lament's Balm

lemon balm flower, Melissa
Lemon Balm is supposed to make people feel happy or at least calm. It is certainly delicious enough.

Both of these tunes are fairly typical for me in that they jump around and rearrange themselves a great deal. However, “Lament’s Balm” has a bit more of a solid outline to its melody line even though it shifts wildly within that basic shape. “Pass the Whiskey” has several defined phrases that hold it together and a basic rhythm and build, but resisted being more defined for quite some time. The result is that “Lament’s Balm” was ready to record fairly quickly and “Pass the Whiskey” is only now reaching the stage when I feel ready to record it.
Most of my composing is based on improvisation, not formal composition training. I studied a great deal of music theory but not with the intent of developing composition skills. The theory training seems to have functioned more as a net for when the improvisation loses its grip during its trapeze act (all right so my metaphor needs a little work but you get the idea).
lemon balm sun tea
Lemon Balm Sun Tea-Good for a hot day

No comments:

Post a Comment