Hello and welcome to ‘Season 2’ of mad music mondays. In the first season, I explored the creative process that led to the release of my single, you should know. To go through that journey, I’d advise starting at episode 1.
In this season of mad music mondays, I’m doing a throwback. To my university days, and the music I wrote during my composition degree. One of my composition teachers once told me never to change what I wrote then; let it be who you were at the time. Therefore, in this season, I will be looking back at who I was, and see if there are any parts of me that I would rather like back. Let’s get started with Episode 1.
In this episode, I will look back at one of the pieces from my first assessed portfolio. As a classical pianist, it was natural for me to write on my instrument. It was my ‘free choice’ piece, the only one that I didn’t have to fit a series of constraints.
The first time I improvised on this idea, it was a gorgeous rainy day, in an Anglican church, in the town of Berwick. From the seat at the grand piano, there was a clear view up to an old oak tree, framed by eucalypts. A beautifully inspiring nook, really.
When I first played this piece for a friend, his first comment was, “It sounds a bit like Christmas carols.” Which of course it did, because I had spent a lot of time writing it over the Christmas holidays.
But by far my favourite part of my process for this piece was how haphazard it ended up being. I had to perform it, myself, at our composition concert. It was not finished yet. So, I left part of the score blank to improvise, then fill in ready for submission.
Although at the time, this ended up not being a good idea from an assessment perspective, I do love its outcome. Because rather than overthink, make ‘modern’, or ‘thought-provoking’, I just made what I loved to make.
Which is my reminder from looking back at this piece. While I would change it, and I understand what it lacks now, I stand by the desire to not please someone else for the sake of ‘arty-ness’. I am myself, and no-one else is that, so if I make music that sounds like me, then it’s already enough.
Here is the piece, played at the very concert where it was partially improvised!
Jena Ren, 2022