The Call

I have again experienced something akin to the phenomenon of reassurance that I struggled to describe in my previous post, All to the Glory to God.  I had been disillusioned about one of the musical numbers in The Word from Beyond, the piece provisionally entitled “Adytum.”   I put it down last night, deciding to “sleep on it,” and when I awoke realized it would function best as only a small part of larger number, The Call. Though I’m still not perfectly satisfied with the way the two numbers tie together, I’ve received a new assurance that I’m on the right track.  It is largely because of this assurance that I feel I can move on, and get a draft of The Word from Beyond finished by the 90th day, as has been my oft-stated objective.

The sense of reassurance, in this case, was based on something very simple.  I decided more-or-less spontaneously to use a major chord at the end of The Call, even though the song had been tending toward a minor mood throughout the entire second half of its five minutes and twenty-five seconds.  The way that I voiced this final chord was a bit ambiguous, in that it could be interpreted either as a tonic or a dominant  To use it as a dominant would suggest hat a new tonic would be soon to follow.  (That much is academic — it’s in the job description of “dominant” to lead up to a “tonic.”)

What was uncanny was that the tonic to follow just happens to be voiced precisely like the tonic that begins the title song in this show; that is, the song called “The Word from Beyond,” named after the title of the show itself.  However, this voicing was not in the key as it is currently scored in Version 7-N of “The Word from Beyond” on my Finale file, a key designed for my own, basso profundo voice.   Instead, it was in a far better key: the key in which it ought to be scored, if it is to be sung by the protagonist, Winston Greene, in his intended, leggiero tenor range.

This pleasant new segue gave me the final bit of motivation I needed to remove the song “Clarion” from the show.  The style in “Clarion” is too far afield of the general style in The Word from Beyond, since I wrote it much later, after a substantial break during which I composed no music at all for several months.   Though the final measures of “Clarion” led into the title song quite nicely, they only led into the key in which it had previously been scored, which (as I said) was not the correct key for Winston Greene’s voice, but only for my own.  Now, on the other hand, I’m leading up to the right key for the song “The Word from Beyond,” with the critical difference being that the lead-in emerges from the song I initially had placed before “Clarion” since “Clarion” has now been removed.  That song, happily enough, is The Call. 

Another neat thing is that the text of “The Call” leads up to the text of the title song, “The Word from Beyond,” quite smoothly.  So both text-wise and musically, there’s a pleasant flow taking place — as there has been from the beginning of the project, till now.  This validates for me my next move should be to score “The Word from Beyond” in its more appropriate key, a full perfect fifth higher, while continuing to seek a tenor who can sing the part of Winston Greene in a way that I, as a bass, cannot.

And a certain rain was falling
Where it wasn’t supposed to fall.
Though he thought he knew his calling,
He at last had heard the Call.

The Call

“The Call” from Eden in Babylon.
Copyright © 2016 by Andrew Michael Pope.  All Rights Reserved.

All to the Glory of God

The function of “incubation” – being the second of the four stages of the creative process as posited by Graham Wallas – is amazing in the way that it validates for the Artist that he’s on the right track with his work.

For example, I knew that, in order for “Sirens of Hope” to come across like the opening number of a musical or light opera, five events needed to take place:

(1) There had to be a certain extension of the theme. It had been exposed, but not sufficiently developed.

(2) There had to be a certain type of modulation involved in this extension; otherwise it would seem both boring and unnatural.

(3) There needed to be a certain change in instrumentation toward the end, not only to give the number more variety, but also to give it a “grand sense of finish” — as befits an opening number.

(4) It needed to “rock out” at the end. It had rocked a bit earlier — now it needed to rock harder and longer, in order to honor that “grand sense of finish.”

(5) It needed to end in a certain key, where it could segue most gracefully into the next number: “Bone of My Bones.”

What I did not know was:

(1) The instruments that were logical for the change in instrumentation would happen to turn out to be the instruments that would “rock” the hardest, as needed, for the end of the number.  So I was able to accomplish two purposes without compromise, even though I hadn’t planned it this way. 

(2) The modulation that was most logical and natural — that is to say, the least forced or contrived — turned out to modulate into the exact key which I needed in order to segue into “Bone of My Bones” most gracefully.

The first five events were a function of my conscious intention and choice. The second two events were, according to the Wallas model, a product of unconscious creative incubation.  As such, they were “given” to me as unexpected gifts that, for me, validated that I was on the right track artistically. Moreover, because I am a Christian; and I believe that all good gifts are given by God, it validated for me that God is supportive of my project. After all, it is written:

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.
— James 1:17 NIV

The Wallas model interprets such gifts as a function of the second stage in a four-stage process. I fully accept that model. I also accept that, for a Christian whose aim is to glorify God in his work, this stage of incubation is the work of God. My own process may seem completely chaotic, haphazard, and random. But it is God who can “make the crooked paths straight.” (Isaiah 42:16) 

Johann Sebastian Bach

What is even more astounding is that, even though I haven’t written any of the lyrics to this piece of music, I can “hear” the lyrics “Glory to God” fitting into a logical place in the melody line, having the same meter as “Sirens of Hope” in a different verse. This is further evidence to me, in a very frank and flagrant fashion, that God intends to be glorified in this piece.  I wonder if an experience similar to this is what was felt by the great composer, Johann Sebastian Bach.  I wonder if it is for reasons such as these that Bach was moved to inscribe, at the bottom of every piece of music he wrote, the words: “All to the Glory of God.”


The Royal Rhapsody

Just a brief check-in to announce that I finished scoring a full draft of my piece, provisionally entitled The Royal Rhapsody. You can hear it on my SoundCloud at the link provided.

As far as my earlier post regarding the completion of my Eden in Babylon script (or the lack thereof) my policy still stands.  I tried twice to adopt the more “professional” approach I alluded to in the previous entry.  Each time, I continued to draw a disturbing blank.  I don’t think the script will be finished until I have the flash of illumination I’ve been praying for.  I need for it to flow as well at its end as it does at its start.  So far everything is headed toward deus ex machina, which of course is to be avoided at all costs.

I do, however, fully believe that this moment of illumination is in my future.  I believe that at that moment, I will proceed to pour out a completed draft of that script straight from my heart.  Because I believe these things, I also believe it would be silly and counter-productive to rush matters.  That moment will come when it’s meant to be.

Hope you like my Rhapsody.

The Royal Rhapsody

“The Royal Rhapsody” from Eden in Babylon.
Copyright © 2016 by Andrew Michael Pope.  All Rights Reserved.