I created this by jamming in GarageBand iOS so no sheet music available this time.
This is a short piece inspired by this beautiful morning sight at 6:30am.
Since I didn’t write this piece in a notation software (I used GarageBand instead), the following sheet is just an outline of melody and harmony for analysis purpose.
If you like this piece, you will also enjoy The Starry Night, aother meditative piece inspired by Vincent van Gogh’s The Starry Night painting.
My composition process for this piece:
I intended for the bass going back and forth with string pizzicato to bring a rhythmic, routine, somewhat hustling feel to the night time. The melody dabbles briefly to Dorian but back to Minor at the end of each phrase so maybe that’s where the folkiness comes from. I want it to represent the beautiful scenery that is always there, longing to be appreciated, but neglected nonetheless by the busy and hustling lifestyle of the night. Maybe the pensive sadness is also inspired by the downward crescent moon like an eye looking down with eyelid almost closing.
But then all of that is washed away by the sun (soon to be) rising at the end, inspired by that bit of pink sky above the trees. I want the sun rising to cast some overwhelming brightness to the piece, thus the Picardy third shifting modes from Dorian/Minor to Major, and the crescendo sustained strings. Hm, maybe I should even increase the volume there a little.
Two people long for, yearn for the magical spark from the beginning. Where did it go?
If you like this piece, you will also enjoy my other melancholic piece Every Journey Ends.
My composing process:
I wrote the slow waltz part at the beginning first and feel that it exudes strong yearning. So I decide to explore that emotion more. The middle part is intended to be the part where the music explores what is being yearned for. It serves as the happier cousin of the beginning, where the harmony stays the same for the most part, repeated, with a cloud on its feet, and spiccato string to provides the dancy feel. The middle part progressively gets happier until it suddenly all come crashing down again at the chromatic whole tone scale climb and fall back down.
I could wrap the piece up here by restating the opening, but I want to add a bow on top of this story. I modulate this piece to its relative major, playing a similar melody to the beginning in the same tempo. Although a major scale usually sounds bright, in this context, it highten the difference with its surrounding, always make me shake my head in sorrow because it’s just too beautiful. After the brief moment of crying out in major, the piece goes back to the original melody and harmony in minor key to conclude the yearning journey, disappointedly that through all that longing, all that imiginary happiness, and crying out for something, anything out there for help, nothing changes. Perhaps, it’s too late.
Note on the romanticism of the piece:
I chose the picture of a couple for this piece since I think it is the concept most often associated with the yearning feeling. But this piece doesn’t necessarily need to apply to romance between two persons. The core feeling of the piece can be applied to romance with an idea, with a concept. The original thing I thought of for this piece is dreaming of a wealthy life, or dreaming of being happy, just to realize that it wasn’t real.
Music connects directly with our feelings while words have to go describe can never describe the precise feeling. Just like I can never use words to explain to you the exact experience of getting punched in the face (not that I did experience it, just close), I can never use words to explain to you the exact experience of listening to a piece of music. It evokes something different for each and everyone, either due to nature, or nurture. So experience music, specifically, and art, generally, for what it is. It doesn’t matter if our interpretations of art differs from the majority’s.
I wrote a piece of music inspired by Vincent van Gogh’s The Starry Night.
By doing this, I attempt to challenge the boundary of different art forms, more specifically, that between painting and music.
If you like this piece, you will also enjoy this other melancholic piece Every Journey Ends.
I now upload my music to YouTube as well. Kind of an upgrade. I will gradually update all the older music, too.
The blog will still be used to write reflections, contemplate philosophy, and nerd out about music theory.
If you like the fantasy music, you will also enjoy Welcome to The Sunrise Village.
Here’s the process of writing this piece:
The initial idea was to write a Lydian melody on top of a Phrygian harmony of the same tonic center, hence the clashing nature between them. After writing a few measures, I can hear the two modes never cease to create stark dissonance against each other. So I decided to bring that quality out even more instead of tucking it away in some cute (musical) corner. And I decided it would be pleasing to the ear if the two becomes one by the end.
Indeed the piece conclude with melody and harmony both in Lydian, hammering the most iconic Lydian chords I and II back and forth. These two chords always sound ethereal to me, and is the great triumphant conclusion to the conflict portrayed earlier.
What’s left is to write the middle part, painting an ever more conflicting battle. I have experimented with the contrast between bowing and pizzicato strings sounds in another piece and loved it. So I used driving pizzicato strings in the background, signaling where the battle begins. I also ended up introducing another voice among the string in Phrygian in a call-in-response manner with the Lydian trumpet. That worked out well.
After the battle reaches a climactic point with density of notes and rhythms, I suddenly switched to a slower tempo section, but with even more heighten tension. It’s as if the two modes are now done having fun, and start to throw more meticulous blows at each other with the intend to end the battle for good.
Throughout composing this piece, I learned two things.
First is to be more comfortable with writing dissonant music. As long as the notes have a purpose, the composition will work. I’m internalizing the idea of “there is no wrong notes, just notes that bring different feelings” more.
Second is more specific toward writing polymodal music. I tried constructing a palette of notes in Lydian that works with specific chords in Phrygian. That doesn’t work well.The high dissonance makes it hard to find combinations that work, resulting in a limited musical toolbox to pick-and-choose from. Instead, letting Lydian does Lydian thing and Phrygian does Phrygian thing works better.