Il Est Calm, part Deux

I hope you'll indulge me in a quick post before I meet Jeff London for lunch. I did more work on Il Est Calm yesterday. It's going to be a long one. I picture these songs in my head as these little pieces, but I'm always surprised as I work on them to see them grow into 8 or 9 page monstrosities. Il Est Calm is really short in terms of length, but the page count is going to be sizeable.

Contributing to the sizeable page count is the fact that I decided if this record is going to feature just piano and voice, then I'd have to give both instruments equal weight. That means each song should have at least a few moments when the piano comes out on top and carries the song. So I'm not going to be adverse to long instrumental introductions, or big finales. The piano is useful (dare I say instrumental Ha ha ((when did I become such a geek?!))) in effecting key changes and exposing the singer's mood. The music is where you can really tell what the singer is thinking. In Up On The Orange Moon, I let the piano play the melody and carry the song out with these ambiguous chords. In this song, Il Est Calm, I think the piano will have a really odd interlude in the middle. I wrote something that's jumpy and juicy; kind of grim considering it's about this person dying. There is an interesting back and forth from 3/8 time to 2/4 which happened on accident. Hope I'm not getting too technical there. The point is it's going to be fun and challenging to see how the piano can function.

It's also going to be difficult given my limited piano skills. So Here's how I do it. I stand away from the piano and just sing what I want it to do. Just imagine and sing, sometimes I act it out even. Then, I sketch it out using just lines and blobs. Lines for the melodies, blobs for the chords. I jot down notes in the margins with little arrows pointing at the staves. Then I sit down and slowly, very slowly, carve out the melodies and chords given the texture I've come up with. This allows me to figure out how fingerings are going to happen, what chords are impossible to play given a player's reach, etc. As I come up with something, I write in the notes on manuscript paper. It's quite a tedious process. It's like when you work on playing a piece of music, but in reverse. Sometimes I'll hear something in Satie's music or Schumann's music and think "Hey, that would be good" and I'll straight lift it. Not the chords and melody, but the texture. You can learn a lot stealing from the old masters. That's a last resort, though. Really.

Anyway, off to lunch. More later.