30 November - Write an Original Song. En francais

For as much as I have been surrounded by music since I was a child, I have never had the courage to write a song. I would try my hand at poetry, but would become a bit uptight in letting my ideas flow when I knew the goal was to set words to a melody. I alone prevented any seed that may have had the chance to grow, to even be planted.


A few weeks ago, the sun was out, transforming my spirit and attitude. It served as my morning cup of joe. As I was driving, I was visually aware of gorgeous candids around me that should have been captured on film. And I heard a melody in my head that accompanied what I saw.

Fortunately with iPhone's "Voice Memo" application, I held onto that melody and started to hear more. Inspired by a period film featuring Edward Norton which I had recently seen, I wrote lyrics to match a somber tone. I could hear it in 3/4 time with a beautiful flamenco guitar accompaniment, a la Sting's "La Belle Dame Sans Regret." This is one of my husband's and my favorite songs. The last element that would complete my vision was if it were sung in French.


I visited my friend Patrick, who moved here from Nice, to help me translate the lyrics. I have a Minor Degree in French and had the fortune to resurrect and practice in Paris a few years ago. But I quickly forgot and the vernacular became quite rusty. Patrick spoke the words first, then I followed. (Apologies in advance for the gum.)

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I then contacted an old friend, incredible flamenco guitarist Peter Baime. Peter studied in Spain with legendary gypsy guitarists Diego del Gastor and his nephew Paco del Gastor. Peter won an Emmy Award for one of his original documentary scores for PBS. He has toured all over the U.S., Puerto Rico, Europe, Canada and Mexico, and currently is a faculty member at two universities as well as the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music. He continues to work on special projects. It was my fortune and honor to collaborate with him on this project.


To document this collaboration, friend Shanel referred me to Amelia Coffaro. When I visited her site, viewed her candids and listened to her philosophy on capturing artists in their element, I knew I wanted her involved as well.


Lastly, as always, I phoned my trusted friend Jim Reith to engineer and produce. Peter suggested we record simultaneously and not on separate tracks to complement the nuances in the moment. This means we record the song in full each time and choose from the different takes. Anytime we made a mistake, we had to start over. We did change the ending from what I initially intended. Hesitations are noted in my delivery, but I will keep these imperfections in the recording as it holds authenticity of the moment.

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What started as a relatively simple but fearful task of writing an original song, grew into a wonderful collaboration. In rehearsing with Peter, he added such interesting melodic changes just by suggesting I sing one half-step higher or lower in certain areas. His additional intricacies evoked emotion as I sang. And in working with Amelia, I gained a new friend. She added quite a personal element to the process. I typically only use one static photo, but in looking through what she captured, it behooved us all to use as many as we could. In this process, I also had to learn Mac's iMovie software. An unexpected piece in the puzzle, but a necessary and rewarding effort.

The progression of the project felt very natural. It always helps to have trusted talent as partners. Thank you to all involved.

For more information on Peter, please visit http://www.wcmusic.org/.

For more information on Amelia, please visit http://www.ameliacoffaro.com/.

For more information on Jim, please visit http://www.beathousemusic.com/.

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