Songs to represent musical growth in teaching, performing, and composing
Stars have represented decades of growth for me as a composer, a writer, and as an educator. I’ve written operas, string quartets, choral pieces, all including stars, but, of course, I couldn’t have done it without the poets who wrote about them first.
What Do You Listen To and How Will That Help You Grow?
Learning to choose notes, write music, is something I teach by example, just as I was taught. And to bring that full circle as educators, we grow when we listen. I’ve taught ear training; taken ear training; but I really began listening when I was very, very small — and paid attention to what composers were doing to connect to listeners. To be perfectly honest, I’m falling in love again. I love lots of styles of music, and teach all about them, but in this week’s work, I chose the more difficult road, talking about my music. It would have been a lot easier to just talk a bit about a song and its history…
A composer, at least the kind I am, representationally, has to know how to make words fit the voice because singers may change vowels to create a better sound. … Acoustical physics at its finest. So, taking into consideration the difficulties vocalists face, how the words will have to be sung in order to hit that very high note, and still bring out the beauty, success will be measured.
In that blink of an eye, and with pieces I haven’t heard in years, because of this first week’s prompt, I’m opening my soul to much of my past and listening to compositions that worked, that didn’t work, that really worked, and, well, some that needed to go back to the drawing board. It’s challenging and emotionally-charged. Why didn’t it work or what did work? Sometimes it’s the composer, the performer, or the recording – or, during a live recording, an audience member who coughed loudly throughout the entire piece. I got a little taller that day.
The songs that make a listener fall in love with each word are the truest test of success. After all, the words are the most important elements. And, it’s not the applause that shows whether you truly connected with others’ ears, it’s the silence.
I chose to include a short piece, still about stars, from Songs of the Night Wind, with the Stockholm String Quartet and Olle Persson, baritone.
Summer Stars Bend low again, night of summer stars, So near you are, sky of summer stars, So near, a long-arm man can pick off stars, Pick off what he wants in the sky bowl, So near you are, summer stars, So near, strumming, strumming So lazy and hum-strumming. Carl Sandburg