Music

One note to another…

I hope you ate plenty of turkey and pie last weekend!

Today I am still trying to get back into routine after an enjoyable break with the family, but I wanted to share a quote I heard while listening to an instructional video about arranging, composing, and publishing:

“Music is the thousanth of a millisecond between one note and another.  How you get from one to the other: that’s music.”  ~Joel Raney

Here’s the link in case you’re interested:  https://sites.baylor.edu/ccms/2013/07/24/joel-raney-ask-the-composer-2013-alleluia-conference/

 

 

Cause it makes me happy...

Little things…

It’s been a busy week here in the mountains!  The weather is turning colder but here inside it’s warm and cozy.

What are you listening to these days?  This morning we listened to a Sandra Boynton CD while the boys were getting ready for school.  “Dance It Out” started out our day on a peppy, happy tone.  I also have really enjoyed playing and singing through our Children’s Movie Songs sheet music book; songs like “Reflections” from Mulan and “Whistle a Happy Tune” have been fun for me to revisit.

I am trying to listen to music more often (maybe it’s having 3 boys that makes it so I highly value quiet and stillness!) but sometimes I have a hard time breaking out of what I usually listen to.  Do you have any ideas for me?  Pieces that you have an emotional reaction to?  Soundtracks you love?  Songs that make you want to dance?  Or sing?

Here’s a few ideas that you may not have thought of recently and that you might enjoy.  Have a great day!

From Ratatouille:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p_hdmt4vpBo&index=56&t=0s&list=PLeGoFrREnkY5FZnIArwtMZv9aKl7Qnus6

From La La Land:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CWnYIb2lqpo&index=56&list=PLeGoFrREnkY5FZnIArwtMZv9aKl7Qnus6

From the Piano Guys:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CHV6BjuQOZQ&index=19&list=PLeGoFrREnkY5FZnIArwtMZv9aKl7Qnus6

 

Music

Master of Colors: The Story

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Hello again, Friends!  Today I’m happy to share with you a piece I wrote last year.  I read this story (see below) by Jill Thomas in November 2016 and was so touched.  Her visual descriptions resonated with me, and I immediately knew I would love to write a song based on the ideas she shared.  A few months later in the Spring of 2017, I was asked to speak at a Women’s Conference, but I had to turn down the opportunity knowing I was going to be out of town that weekend.  After thinking about the topic I had been asked to speak on, I realized it was the same idea presented in this story.

Suddenly I had a (crazy) thought that if I wrote and recorded this song, I could still share the message at the Women’s Conference without being there.  The deadline was less than two months away (and I didn’t really know anything about recording!) so I had to get cooking.  It was a joy working on this piece, and even more delightful when I presented the finished product to Jill.  Enjoy!  (For convenience, I posted the entire article below; but the original article can be found here: https://www.lds.org/blog/seeing-green?lang=eng.)

Four years ago I lost my 21-month-old daughter, Penny, in a tragic accident. The cliché is that the death of a loved one puts your faith to the test. While this might be technically true, the actual experience is far more devastating than this little catchphrase lets on.

In the weeks and months that followed my daughter’s death, I desperately sought for some kind of real, tangible connection with her. But her death had wrecked me. And I felt nothing.

I believed that the Sunday School answers to read my scriptures, say my prayers, and go to church were inspired and true. But I was earnestly doing those things, yet felt nothing. I didn’t know how to be inspired or guided anymore. I was lost.

Meanwhile, in the midst of all this, my husband was also searching. He was looking for greater understanding, deeper knowledge, deeper connection, and deeper meaning to life. His searching had led him to question his faith.

So my situation was this: I had lost my daughter, and I believed the only way I could have her again was to fiercely live the gospel. But my husband was blocking our eternal progression by seeking answers outside of our church. I had lost my daughter. I was losing my husband. And according to my belief system, I was losing my eternal family. Where do you go from here?

My whole life I had found “formulas” to live by. There was a formula in my youth, to stay on the right path and to earn my parents’ trust. There was a formula as a young adult, to get married in the LDS temple and have a family. When I decided to be a film photographer in a very dense, digital age I found a formula that helped me become successful at my craft.

But now, with the death of my daughter, I found myself in a situation where the formula wasn’t right in front of me. I earnestly searched and prayed and eventually found a new formula that I discovered through the lens of photography. To understand it fully, bear with me as I share this story.

Imagine that we have a master and his intention is to create masters of green. Now imagine that up to this point we have never experienced color. So he could plant us into a world of green and it would be great. Except if the whole world is green, nothing is green.

The next option for the master would be to just tell us it’s green. Except this is how we teach our preschool students; we point and say, “This is green.” The master would be teaching us, but on a very basic level. This isn’t good enough for us. So what would the master do?

I propose he’d introduce distinction. He might plant us in a world of blue, but then he would take us out of the world of blue and plant us in a world of yellow. In doing so, there would be one group of people who would love yellow. They might even say, “Who needs blue anymore?”

But another group of people might hate yellow. They might say, “I hate these new ideas and these new perspectives. I just want to get back to what’s familiar. Get me out of here. Take me back to blue.”

Then you would have a third group of people. And this group is interesting because they wouldn’t abandon blue and they wouldn’t abandon yellow. They’d see that the master gave them both blue and yellow. In that moment they would have an awakening and they would see green.

This is called a paradox—two ideas or concepts that are both true but in general can’t be true at the same time. Now, I realize by definition blue and yellow are not paradoxical, but they are on opposite sides of the color wheel, one warm and one cool. And they’re helpful in explaining how you can have two contradictory ideas or concepts that can lead to a transcendent concept that eliminates the apparent contradiction.

It’s what I call “seeing green,” and I believe it’s where the highest truth lies. It’s how we learn to see things as the Master intended. And we can only do so through opposition in all things. Let me share how blue and yellow were manifested in my life.

seeing-green-web2When I got married, I lived in a world of blue. I had a great family and I was doing what I loved in film photography. Life was good.

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But the day my daughter Penny died, I was abruptly yanked out of my world of blue and thrown into a world of yellow. I hated yellow. It was full of grief and pain and suffering. My daughter wasn’t there. It was full of new ideas and new questions, like “What does it really mean to be a forever family?”

All I wanted was to go back to blue—to be happy again. So I tried. I tried to go back to my everyday life. But as I tried, I discovered that blue no longer felt blue any more. Things that used to excite me about life didn’t anymore. I knew the distinction between blue and yellow.

My world was just going to be yellow now. And since I didn’t feel like I was finding the answers I was looking for, I thought, “If I can just endure yellow, one day I’ll die and then answers will come.” But this didn’t resonate with me either.

So I started to create a space within myself where blue and yellow could exist together inside of me. At first this was very uncomfortable. But then something amazing happened. I realized the Master gave me blue and yellow because He wanted me to experience something more. He wanted me to see green. And I did. Through opposition in all things, I had direct experiences that brought me closer to God.

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So where am I now in this journey we call life? I found more than the apparent split of happiness and its opposite. Down this path I found green. I found God. And I found my daughter. They were in green the whole time.

Click here to hear the recording! Master of Colors

Quote

Creativity and Territory

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Photo by Kai Oberhäuser

I love a good book.  I’m usually drawn to non-fiction these days, and few weeks ago I picked up this book just in the nick of time.  The librarian had to go looking for it and told me as she scanned the barcode that they were just about to get rid of it!  Here’s to hoping that means that since it’s overdue, I can go in and tell them I want to keep it.

The book is entitled “The War of Art” and is written by Steven Pressfield.  I found the book really interesting, but one particular idea seems worth sharing here (perhaps your library still has a copy if you want to read more!).  At the end of the book he tells the reader that there are two ways to orient ourselves as artists:  one is hierarchically, which refers to finding support and encouragement through the pecking order, or how we rank in comparison with others.  The other is teritorially, where the creative individual retrieves support and renewal through the creative territory or medium that they invest in.  Here is a little more detail about this idea:

The act of creation is by definition territorial.  As the mother-to-be bears her child within her, so the artist or innovator contains her new life.  No one can help her give it birth.  But neither does she need any help…When the artist works territorially, she reveres heaven.  She aligns herself with the mysterious forces that power the universe and that seek, through her, to bring forth new life.  By doing her work for its own sake, she sets herself at the service of these forces.

How can we tell if our orientation (as an artist) is territorial or hierarchical?  One way is to ask ourselves, If I were feeling really anxious, what would I do?  If we could pick up the phone and call six friends, one after the other, with the aim of hearing their voices and reassuring ourselves that they still love us, we’re operating hierarchically.  We’re seeking the good opinion of others.

What would Arnold Schwarzenegger do on a freaky day?  He wouldn’t phone his buddies; he’d head for the gym.  He wouldn’t care if the place was empty, if we didn’t say a word to a soul.  He knows that working out, all by itself, is enough to bring him back to his center.  His orientation is territorial.

Here’s another test.  Of any activity you do, ask yourself: If I were the last person on earth, would I still do it?  If you’re alone on the planet, a hierarchical orientation makes no sense.  There’s no one to impress.  So, if you’d still pursue that activity, congratulations.  You’re doing it territorially.

Isn’t that interesting?  I like the way he describes this concept.  Earlier in the book he mentions that as humans our default setting seems to be set on hierarchy; who taught you that so-and-so was “cool” in junior high, or that you couldn’t talk to that kid because he was with the “in-crowd”?  It’s something we naturally develop.  For me, it was so refreshing to take a look at what the territorial orientation would feel like.  How liberating would it be if the act of creating itself was all we needed to feel secure in our creations?  It’s our choice, as we have the power to frame our perceptions in the way we choose.

He ends with this paragraph to finish up the book:

Creative work is not a selfish act or a bid for attention on the part of the actor.  It’s a gift to the world and every being in it.  Don’t cheat us of your contribution.  Give us what you’ve got.

So there you go.  Something to think about for the weekend.  Happy Friday!

Love,

Laura

Cause it makes me happy...

Hans Zimmer at his Finest

Photo by Ivan Diaz on Unsplash

Hello friends!  I hope you’re soaking up the sunshine like we are.  What beautiful days we’ve been enjoying in Washington State!

Today I wanted to share a little clip with you that made me laugh out-loud today.  It’s actually an advertisement for an online masterclass from Hans Zimmer- an incredible film composer (think The Lion King, The Dark Knight, and Pirates of the Caribbean).   I don’t think I’ll sign up (though I’ve considered the 7-day free trial version…) but I really enjoyed the clips that preview his instruction.   He is one of many composers that I admire, and find his comments about composing inspiring!

My favorite part was his 4th segment entitled “Themes as Questions and Answers.”  It’s about two minutes long and and it allows you to get an inside look at how a master composer perceives music- what is the theme communicating to the listener?  Check it out!

https://www.masterclass.com/classes/hans-zimmer-teaches-film-scoring?utm_source=Paid&utm_medium=Facebook&utm_term=Aq-Remarketing&utm_content=Video&utm_campaign=HZ

(Click on the play button on Hans Zimmer’s photograph in order to see the preview clips.  Then click on the one at the far right that says “Themes as Questions and Answers.”)

Music

Emerge: The Story

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(Photo by eberhard grossgasteiger on Unsplash)

Mmm- I just love this photo.  It visually describes everything about my newly posted piece, Emerge.

Right now my life seems pretty easy.  Rewind a few years and my life was much different:  it was a time when I had 3 adorable little people that needed a lot of me (physically and otherwise), I was dealing with major health issues, I was tired all the time, and I was also dealing with pretty intense anxiety on a daily basis (partially because I had a child who was struggling).  It wasn’t that my life was horrible- I love being a mom, my husband is an amazing support, and I still say that we soaked up as much joy from that stage as possible; but compared to everything else I’d experienced in life, this was by far the hardest and lasted the longest.

I joked during that time that I felt like I was 30 going on 50 (maybe I’ll change my tune when I experience 50!) and I wondered if I would ever feel back to “normal”- whatever that meant.  The anxiety was particularly troubling to me- it felt as though my thoughts and emotions were often so much heavier and darker than I wanted them to be, but at the time I really didn’t know how to do change that.  I longed for more peace which had seemed much more accessible before.

I prayed to be rescued from the dense fog I found myself stuck in.  Though Heavenly Father didn’t send immediate all-in-one solutions like I wanted Him to, He did send help- gradually.  He sent bite-sized pieces so not only could I be cured, but I could grow through the process of healing.  I look back and see how he placed people, books, and other things in my path so that a step at a time, I learned how to deal with the anxiety in constructive ways.  I also had moments of feeling overwhelming love, peace or contentment; a sense that Heavenly Father was aware of my needs, and would continue to guide and help me.  The kids grew and became a little more independent and my health improved over several months (partly because the baby started sleeping through the night-hallelujah!)- I held on to faith and hope before, but now I could actually see the light at the end of the tunnel.

It was during this time that I began to experiment with writing music-not as a creative outlet, but as an emotional outlet.  I started playing around on the piano, attempting to express the way I felt through the music.  What could I “say”?  This was the result of that exploration.  Hind-sight is a funny thing: though I’d never sign up for a repeat course through the fog, I also wouldn’t trade what I learned from it for anything.  So without any more words, here is “Emerge”!

Emerge