THE LANGUAGE OF MUSIC
MUSIC & MATERIALISM
From playing the recorder at age eight, to piano lessons with Miss Clapp at ten, to a music scholarship in high school, music was a significant part of my life from an early age.
Looking back, there were opportunities for me to make a career in music, but none of them came to pass. Going underground for a couple of decades while I pursued a medical career and pleasures of the flesh, my passion for music resurfaced again in 2000.
That year, deeply enmeshed in a materialistic world-view, I bought a Porsche Boxster. As I drove my new Porsche down Oxford Street in Sydney that day, a voice inside my head said quite clearly, "Only pricks drive Porsches."
I sold the car the next day, and bought a grand piano, my most cherished possession; her name is Clair.
BREAKING DOWN THE BAR LINES
Between 2000 and 2010 I set about teaching myself to compose my own songs as a way of expressing the difficult emotions I was experiencing during this turbulent period of my life.
This process involved putting aside sheet music that I had reproduced whilst playing piano—mostly classical—and singing up to this point. I then taught myself the chord progressions of popular songs I knew so that I could play them from memory. This enabled me to start improvising the music while I sang. I call this process of unlearning my early classical musical training Breaking Down the Bar Lines.
At one point I delved into jazz, where I found yet another language to be learnt. It proved to be beyond my musical capabilities, though I did learn some very useful techniques.
Throughout this decade I wrote around 50 songs, each one a study in some aspect of musical structure, style, or storytelling. I recorded about half of them, and produced two albums—thank you Robin Gist—entitled: THEN . . . (2007), and . . . NOW (2011). The songs are available to listen to here on the website, along with the notes I wrote for the album covers at the time. I've added an updated (2015) comment also. I cringe when I hear most of the songs now, but they served their purpose.
SONGS OF INSPIRATION
In 2012, I started to put together a portfolio of songs that were inspiration for the musical I was thinking about writing. At present there are over 320 songs in the collection, but this number grows every time I sit down at the piano; there are so many wonderful songs to choose from. Around half are from musical theatre, there are some light classical pieces, and the rest are popular songs from the 1920's until the present.
The only criterion for inclusion in the list is that at some point while playing and singing the song I've been overwhelmed with emotion, and burst out crying and/or laughing. This King Laugh, as Bram Stoker calls it—describes so beautifully via his character, Van Helsing, in Dracula--is a signal to me that the song is capable of stirring deep emotion; something I am aiming to achieve with my musical.
The videos posted in Songs of Inspiration are definitely not perfect. You will hear mistakes in the accompaniment, at times I forget the words, and at other times I break down crying and/or laughing. The purpose is not to showcase my musical talent or vocal prowess, but to highlight the music that touches my soul.