|For some of you, writing a song may come quite easily. For some of us, it takes days, and maybe even months before a composition finds its way into our heads. I’m one of the latter. I can’t come up with melodies and cookie-cutter lyrics at the drop of a hat. When I hear some of the music being played on radio stations nowadays, I can do nothing but turn to another channel – or just turn the radio off. There was a time when socio-economic situations in our country played a great part in folk music. True, there are songs being written about today’s events. However, there are songs that aren’t being broadcast by radio stations. It could be that they are too serious, or they don’t pack that “hit” power of other songs that are nothing more than a replication of someone else’s music. I wouldn’t be surprised if a song we’re not hearing by some unknown musician has more substance in the first two measures than in some 5-minute, over-orchestrated “best seller”. The song with substance may have taken only a few minutes to compose, or maybe it took a period of time.
For almost a year, I’ve worked on compositions of mine, but I couldn’t come up with anything new. I began to think that all of this waiting that I’ve been doing “forever” for my music was making me lose my creativity in the area of composing. My mother once told me that “sometimes, you can be too good”. She meant that sometimes you can be so good at what you do, you inadvertently shut yourself out because the jealousy of others is against you. I’ve come to understand that all too well. Combine that with the stress of a day job and what is the first thing to go? Your musical inspiration. So, for months, I couldn’t compose a song even if some guy had a gun pointed to my head! When I get down-in-the-dumps like that, I pick up my acoustic-guitar and play some classical works that I used to play years ago. It doesn’t necessarily inspire me to compose anything sooner, but at least it’s a nice distraction.
Being a musician/composer can really tax the mind and spirit. If it weren’t for my determination and belief in my abilities, I probably would have given music up by now. I want to be successful just like everyone else, but I can’t sacrifice musical substance for money; thus, here I am, just like some of you, hoping that things will turn in my favor one day. My compositions have a personal history, in that something going on in my life fueled them. I can’t compose a song about someone else’s life. I just don’t have that knack for it. I can compose music based on life, but it has to be real life, not make-believe. Therefore, when you are a composer and you are trying to be as original as possible, coming up with that originality can be hell. I have compositions that were written months or years apart. All through that time, I was still playing gigs but my compositions didn’t come as fast as learning to play my instruments better.
Yesterday marked 10 years since my mother passed away on December 8th. I played my acoustic-guitar in her honor because she was the person responsible for my having interest in that instrument. Just when I thought I had lost my ability to compose completely, I woke up today and a song was in my head. It was quite early in the morning and the sun hadn’t risen yet. I stumbled around in the dark to find my guitar. I didn’t reach for a light switch because I didn’t want to lose the music that was playing in my head. For me, turning on a lamp would have distracted the idea. I know; that sounds weird, but I’m “funny that way”. It’s a simple song, in that there’s nothing grandiose about it, but it has a good beginning. I’ve been involved in music long enough to know when I have something and when the idea is headed for the trashcan. I immediately got some manuscript paper and a pencil. I had the song written out in no time. All I have to do now is fine-tune it. As I played the song this morning and watched the skies change color, an indication of the rising of the sun, I found myself getting emotional. I suppose it was the result of having to wait for my creativity to come. When you love music with all your heart the way I do, wanting to compose and play your instrument as well as you can really matter. It’s not about the money. You never know when the ideas for a song will come or how long it will take before things fall into place when you pick up your instrument. You don’t know how situations in your life will impact your music until you experience them. You can’t let yourself get caught up in the illusions. Just look at how the music business is being presented nowadays. They make it look easy on television, but just ask anyone who has gone through hell for his/her music and you’ll get a different picture.
You know how folks talk about “wheels” that begin to turn? In my case, they’re the “wheels of creativity”. My ability for composition has been dormant for months. Today, I can picture giant-sized mechanical wheels in my head that have begun to turn again. I feel as if I’ve received a Christmas present from my mother…
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all of you…
BY Kim Michele LaCoste
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