Back on my Sister's Birthday I was improvising in her memory. Like Mom, she always supported my musical efforts; she thought I was great. Sharon seldom complained when I'd play around with feedback when my parents were out of our home. Back during the days of oDD CamP, a piece Elegy arrived while I was thinking of her. On her Birthday this month, I was happy when a melody emerged and began to take off as I held her in my heart.
The improvisation seemed to settle into A Phrygian, than the melody raised the F to a F#. What would one call this scale which contains the notes of G melodic minor but my explorations focused around the A? I posted this question to my knowledgeable Facebook friends, received an answer and encountered others approach to music. A discussion of thinking in modes or chord tones erupted. And I mean erupted, so many comments back & forth. I went back to my guitar.
If one does not know the name of a scale does it matter as long as the notes played are true?
Over the next couple days, as the piece evolved I mixed up my approach by adding randomness. Using the same sentiment but beginning with a different scale to see what was inherent in the intervallic relationships of the scale form. By increasing the variability of the information I am examining can I increase the randomness factor to a point where the process is enhanced? Will the turmoil induced by beginning again with a different scale allow me to approach, illumine, and expand my limitations? Certainly I was dancing on my edge.
By varying my approach and dwelling in the shadows the looking glass within my mind mirrored the information, played around with possibilities and surprised me. A shift arrived when I found myself playing arpeggios in three. Another shift and suddenly I found myself playing an arpeggio in 13, most of it in the low register. This sounded so beautiful. A few more days of looking at what was there, allowing the piece to percolate in my mind, and an ending has been found. I've played the piece for Joann and of course like Mom and Sharon she loved it. The working title has been Sharon's Song, but it may become Forgive Me. I hope she has.
Photo by Martin Pettitt