© Catherine Meeson 2012-2015
We need to move beyond the paradigm of the traditional composer whom in their day and age gave voice to a Sonic Domain via the Orchestra. Expanding our definition of composing to include not only conventional Instrumentation and timbres but that of the global sonic reality, both the human domain and non human worlds. The world is the nosiest it has ever been ( well maybe next to the mountain building volcanic past). A multitude of solo sonic seekers stand poised daily, recording sounds and offering them up for Creative Commons usage to be sonically orchestrated.
Not all of us learnt to read or write music.
Before notation was listening and experimentation. Before notation was master and disciple in some cultures.
Before masters were many voices, and soulful utterance, experimentation and human ingenuity giving rise to early instruments, voice, drums, flutes and the spaces in which the audible was heard which were just as much part of the sound, as the instruments themselves.
Culture and place diversify. Time and tide cross fertilize . The results are a rich sonic array of possibilities for the 21st century in which the “sonic orchestrator” (CM), can represent concepts, themes, ideas, abstractions. We can also embody knowledge and codify universal laws to be transmitted regardless of cultural origin via sound.
A Sonic Orchestrator makes sense out of cacophony and creates order out of chaotic voicing’s. He / she allows their palette to expand purposefully and intentionally signalling a creative adaptation of the old guard; not to replace it, but to synthesize it and with it, to integrate and offer more. To build a bridge between the worlds. The ancient worlds, the European classical world, the modern rock and pop world, and the electronic worlds of sample and synthesis. The Sonic Orchestrator may also attend to the model and ethics of the ancients regarding the use of sound, knowing its effects.
I believe we have sound designers working alongside composers but not necessarily one and the same,. Maybe they are sometimes in the motion picture world. How fascinating it would be to be part of a team like that. Sounds designers work on special sonic effects and recording simulations of real world things or out of this world sounds producing those mind bending signature sounds that get etched in the collective memory as the “Pod racer of Annakin Skywalker for eg.
Eg of the Master Sonic Orchestrator John Williams at work, one whom has influenced the deepest recesses of my being with his rich dramatic scores; that even if they were not composed and synchronised with moving image would stand alone creating their own synaesthesia experience.
The Sonic Orchestrator is not limited to score. The tools of trade now are not only instruments, but include all technology, digital synthesis and computing power, giving us second and third brains to fulfill our vision and stretch our sonic boundaries, way out there into the vastness of space. Some level of music theory is advantageous but not even necessary any more. Studies have demonstrated that our neurological wiring process and acculturation occurs within the first few years, after which time we have absorbed the fundamental sonic, the tonalities if you like, of our cultures, and the rules of its cultural musical expressions. This encodement goes beyond training, it becomes part of our gene pool, literally getting transmitted to the next generation for potential nurturing and awakening.
So the Sonic Orchestrator is not bound only by ones place and culture of origin. He or she is at ones best when adaptable and flexible to allow the influences of other systems to be internalized and comprehended, allowing a greater creative fertilization potential to occur. The ancient mode can be transplanted using contemporary voices, and real world samples, or conceptual abstract synthesis and design to create a representation, sonically, audibly and psychologically, of an event space occurrence, or a moment indeed of time and space itself. Sound is an expression of time and space.
Representation is nothing new to the worlds orchestrators, they have always sought to portray story, event, myth, feeling, mood, time, idea, etc. There are no limits in true composition. I really do like the title of a Sonic Orchestrator, it is much more aligned with the times, than just musician, therefore I feel I fit the title well with my playing, but then so do we all.
Some of my favourite Sonic orchestrators over time are John Williams and Tangerine Dream , but today I leave you with a link to some of my favourite conceptual orchestrations.
Gustav Holst- the Planets
Tangerine Dream- Alpha Centauri
Jean Michell Jarre- Oxygene 2 Live
Maurice Jarre, Jean Michelle's father wrote the Soundtrack to the Epic Laurence of Arabia- Theme piece
Enigma Live- Gregorian
WHEN WORDS FAIL INSTRUMENTS SAVE THE SOUL xxx Catherine
NURTURE THE MUSICIAN WITHIN- YOUR AUTHENTIC VOICE AND WRITING STYLE
© Catherine Meeson 2010 & 2015
There are many ways we come to music. Some receive lessons from childhood, some take up an instrument of their own volition in their teen years, and some others decide in adulthood they always wanted to learn. Some couldn’t leave the pots and pans alone as children. Some cultures have music ingrained as a big part of their community: for some it is something that everyone partakes in, for others it is for the few. If we are all born with the same potential, one could claim it is a matter of the learning of skill and all training. But are some born with a more natural inclination, a more resonant disposition, a brain more able to synthesize musical pattern and relationships? Who can really say? What if they are more adept, the soul knowing from an early age what it wants to do?
Whether adept, savant, slow learner, sheet music virtuoso, ear oriented learner, experimenter, all have a master musician within them awaiting nurturing. The only difference that makes someone a good musician is time and effort. Someone who knows the essence and form of music from such a deep inner level, who comprehends relationships beyond rational knowledge. One whom is able to communicate and play from an intuitive level, attuned, resonant, unafraid of making mistakes. One able to know beyond ones instrument, able to write, compose complete pieces whether on sheet , by analogue equipment or electronically with software.
So what is ones Authentic Voice and writing style?
The 20th century saw a proliferation of immense diversity with the electronic age dawning and technologies infiltrating all spheres of creative life. Music has expanded beyond folk music’s and traditional music’s of the peoples, or of the classical European era. It is in the realm of the everyday. Manufacturing and Industry has led to the masses being armed with instruments of differing quality. This has given birth to the desires of successive generations of youth, feeding the urge to express, with the Age of Mass media and radio and now the internet proliferating. Migrations of people across the globe and the technologies of the 21st century opened the door, to the worlds music, the worlds sounds and the worlds instruments. A cross fertilisation of sounds, of styles, melodies, and rhythms; ways of using the voice, types of scales, and harmonic patterning. People took up the instruments of other cultures and the medium of money has allowed this. The age of transport and communications means there are no boundaries anymore, and if they do remain it is only within our ear and comprehension.
People learn as they always have- by ear, or from teachers, books and pictures, other from sheet. Now new generations are learning off You tube and online tutorials. The exposure to the sounds of the world, is ever increasing the ear of the listener, ever appreciating this richness and sonic diversity. No one can disclaim the fact that music has become one of the bedrocks of popular culture. We make machines to deliver it in our vehicles, to carry it with us. We like to have choice about our sonic environment in the ever increasing cacophony over which we have little control, called the masses and the machinations of progress. We are presented with sound and music in every shop, for it is used to sell, to entice, amuse and attract . It is a tool par excellence in arresting attention. With sight we can choose to look away, music to some degree we can turn down or off but not always. Not when it is thrust upon us by others who have little regard for peace and personal space. It booms out of cars, houses, shopping centres, Noise is everywhere. Even when we turn it down it still travels as a wave through the environment, with lesser wattage. Now there is an ever increasing presence within health centres, doctors, dentists etc even some work places, using Muzak to promote a variety of desired consumer/ clientele ends.
However this article is about Nurturing the Voice and methods of the Musician within. Whether trained or not in the formal sense we all have a master musician within. At birth we utter our first sound. Our pre language sounds are full of musical patterning and potential, they are known to be more archetypal type sounds common to all regardless of culture. Interval patterning is common, pentatonic pre empting is common world over. If these are sounds we can each make, then this is where the potential lay for each to develop this ability. The mother is a bestower of music, with lullabies and soothing melodies and songs. A Composition in the simplest sense is not much more than a few patterned voices, or sequences of sound, responding in relation to each other. They are accented differently by timbre, rhythm, intensity, dynamics, and placement within the whole score. A master musician learns the basics and then gives Self free reign improvising and exploring. The individual plays, the inner ear listens and selects. Each song or tune is a new relationship, a new discovery, a new way of relating, integrating organising and arranging the sonic elements that make up the song, score, soundscape or piece. Whatever we want to call it will depend upon it’s genre or style and it’s intended audience. We have systems and categories for everything, often they get in the way of simple appreciation of what is.
Stylistically certain patterns are represented and adhered to by practitioners of the style and genre. Obvious examples being the distinctions between blues, jazz, classical, rap., and more obscure sounds of Industrial or nerve wrenching Thrash Metal. There are the ‘rules’ of that form, of tempo, of keys, scales, rhythms, lyrical contents and patterning, that govern the work.
The Master Musician absorbs all this and moves beyond it. For they listen from within, it becomes part of the collective musical unconscious, that they have absorbed much throughout their life to now, to be able to output their own stylistic concept of 'a music'.
Everyone works differently- some hear and work it out, some experiment and improvise, some intend specifically, some work randomly chopping up bits and reassembling. Some capture spontaneously then craft, or not. Some seek to recreate or represent the work of another, or use formulas. All methods work, all are ok.
Whatever your methods- the authentic voice and writing style that is yours is what comes to you naturally. Some need a pointer in the right direction when beginning some guideline.. I certainly do every now and then, as my foundation is wonky. Others just begin, confident enough within themselves to learn as they go along. What is natural might not be easy, but often is. It is the voice that develops over time, a certain style with elements that can be heard to be distinctly yours. The way you express rhythms, the melodies, harmonies, the way one sings or plays, the lyrical content, the elements of form, the instrument choices that contribute to the sound. Be yourself, don't mimic others. People respond to authenticity.
Some work on paper, some at a keyboard, some must have a piano, affects, a drummer, a private room, a computer or virtual instruments. Some are pre-madonnas, some are relaxed. Some write alone, some work best with others, with collective input. We are each a master musician in embryo form awaiting the spark, the fuel to start our own internal creative process. Once it is lit, we must flow, we must follow, we must tend. An authentic voice cannot emerge if neglected, visited only every now and then. The authentic voice thrives on attention. Another aspect in my opinion, is not about technical proficiency or skill, It is about being real with ones self and what one does. There are musicians and composers who are not technically brilliant, who’s voices were not beautiful yet we love them for 'that unique spark that they are'. They didn’t necessarily have training. It was their style, their voice, we responded to not the coarseness of their voice, For eg Bob Dylan, Folk singer, his voice was not pretty, his playing was simple, it was a communication with us all, from who he was about the things he cared about. He presented passionately what he felt strongly about. Such is the job of The Musician within us, representing his or her Authentic voice and writing style.
For the master musician it is an expression of what is within. It is indeed a job, though not considered such by the culture around one, unless it is easily and successfully financially co-modified. Many do not make money from their skill, but they are Master creators just the same. Hours and weeks and months are spent crafting ones work to completion. But there are times when for whatever reason the Musician within encounters difficulties, blockages, fears, frustrations or anxiety. Loss of passions, or capacity and this loss drastically affects ones musical capacity and level of proficiency. Whatever happens it is the stuff of life, we can only do what we can do with what we have got at the time. Music is a record of the times. Musicians record the times, they represent culture, belief, event, feeling and thought in sonic form. Musicians are the Minstrels of Soul. They must listen first to within, or no music will emerge into the world. It all starts with a desire......an urge to life, a purpose expressed in time.
Having read this article, if you resonate as a Musician but are encountering troubled waters, Creativity Coaching may help you. I encourage you to get help, maybe from me, visit the contact form page and keep going for the world needs art, the world needs authentic voices, real musicians. Congratulations on your authenticity, never ever give up. If you would like to work together there are options, in person, via phone, skype, out and about etc. Ask!
Regards Catherine Meeson 2011 & 2015
A passionate human being and avid sound current devotee