Semaine no. 3: Mercurial moments


Malcolm and I have entered our third week of work in proximity in Prescott, Arizona. This time of transition has been a bit tumultuous, but I imagine it is to be expected when each person is learning how to create in a space and way that honors their individual needs. Being creative can already be an uncomfortable, challenging arena, so it is helpful for a person to be in their comfort zone as much as possible.

In addition to having individual preferences for composing music, we have each made sacrifices to be make the business side of Story-to-Song a reality. Malcolm uprooted entirely from his home in the temperate northeast and found his way to the desert of the southwest. He has been in Arizona in body for nearly two weeks, but I am not certain his spirit has yet caught up with him. You might think of it as a kind of soul limbo.

I left a permanent government job last fall to move to the desert and recently left a part-time position at a local bookstore, which had offered a small monetary recompense so I felt like I was contributing to my own and the financial needs of the home I share with two other people, 4 cats, and more recently a wolf-like canine.

Expectation and reality are often at odds with one another, and our situation is no exception. There are things at stake, and there is flux.

Amid this unwieldy transition, mercury went into retrograde. In the realm of Vedic Astrology, this means that beings become scattered, people are accident prone, we may find ourselves beating our heads against a wall trying to work with another person. It is not a good time to begin new projects. If you adhere to the idea that we are connected with all of the energy in the universe, then it would make sense for two composers to be in flux in tandem with this shift in the cosmos.

We seem to have made it through the mercurial shift with our mind, body, and souls relatively intact. There was some coffee spilling and the dropping of a guitar, but we are otherwise unscathed.

This morning, Malcolm drove out to the Dells, a rocky region of Prescott where I live with my partner. We continued work that we began last week on a song from a story a friend shared with me two summers ago when I was visiting her at her home in France. In two hours’ time, we created 18 song files and developed the melody for verses one and two, along with a couple of lines that led into the chorus.

In all, the amount of time was less important than the output, Malcolm said. We played what we had composed for my partner to get a sense of whether our work spoke to another person. True, this was not the most objective test, but it was a start to begin to get a sense of whether the song “worked.” If the song only felt good to us, we were missing the opportunity for the emotion from the story and music to affect many more people.

Tomorrow, we continue where we left off today. Perhaps, songwriting is not much different than life.

For me, songwriting is life.

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