Emily Lam

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Thursday, January 12, 2012

Melody in C

I have a special post today. =] (Okay, I agree, that earlier post about juice was pretty regular, not special. I was just up this morning drinking juice, waiting for a ride to go ice skating, and I liked it. But this post is better, I promise. Hopefully.)

First, I would like to point you in the direction of writer Theodora Goss (and my professor), if you'd like a chance for free books. She's hosting a book giveaway for two of her books, signed: In the Forest of Forgetting and soon to be released The Thorn and the Blossom. I've read In the Forest of Forgetting and it's a great read, full of fantastical short stories. My favorites were the ones involving Miss Emily Gray, a recurring character in her stories, and not because she shares a name with with me. Anyway, Theodora Goss is holding three book giveaways, I believe, and to enter all you have to do is write a paragraph or so answering the prompt on her blog.

I mention all this because I've entered this week's giveaway. Here's the prompt: "I’ve traveled a lot, and there’s quite a lot of traveling in my stories. In The Thorn and the Blossom, Evelyn travels to the Cornish town of Clews, where she meets Brendan Thorne. If you could travel anywhere, where would it be, and what would you do when you got there? It can be a real place, or a place that you or someone else has imagined. Again, be creative!" I'm not much of a writer though, so I don't expect to win, but it was fun. (I'm such a dabbler! dabbler dabbler!)

But here's my entry:

I've always wanted to go see the Northern Lights, because I'm the kind of person who likes lights and colors and looking at the sky. So I would head somewhere north, Alaska perhaps? I've heard you can see the aurora borealis from most anywhere there during the spring in Alaska, considering 2012 is amongst the years of peak solar storms – one of the "reasons" the world is going to end in 2012. Once in Alaska, I would ask the locals for the best location to see the lights. "Any empty field with a clear view of the northern horizon will do, but one with a backdrop of a mountain range will add to the spectacle," they would say. So I would find myself an empty field with a clear view of the northern horizon and a mountainous backdrop to sit and wait, shivering because I never dress warm enough. I don't want to expect anything of the aurora borealis for fear of disappointment. But it's too late for that. I can't pretend I don't expect it to be a fury of green streaks similar to a lighting storm without the thunder. Or swirls of green rays lingering in the sky in the pattern of my fingerprints. I can't pretend I didn't have that dream where time traveling was possible when the clouds turned green and the sky bright red, banded with more green. I mean how can I not expect anything short of spectacular of the Northern Lights, who once induced enough current into manmade telegraph lines that people could communicate cross-country without a power source? It's definitely too late to not expect anything of the Northern Lights.

Finally, here's what I thought was special!!! I composed a short little piece. "Melody in C" I will call it. It's nothing great of course. I just sat at the piano frustrated at my inability to play songs I once knew how to play, and the melody just slowly came to me. I really like it. It's much better than my other songs. (You can see an older song here.) However, for some reason I feel like I unconsciously stole it from a Hayao Miyazaki film. Here listen:



I always smile when playing the little part that starts 17 seconds inward. I don't know, it just sounds hopeful and happy. My friend agrees, it does sound like something from a Miyazaki film. But of course, Joe Hisaishi, the composer of scores in the Miyazaki film, does a much, much better job. He understands music better and doesn't rely on a simple chord progression. My friend tells me that people sample songs all the time and that if I did indeed steal this melody, no harm done because I'm not profiting off it or anything.

Unconscious influence. Who knew? The music in the Miyazaki films is simply amazing! Joe Hisaishi is one of my favorite modern day composers. (My favorite composer is Alan Menken but you already knew that!) Joe Hisaishi's score completes the Miyazaki films. Can you imagine Spirited Away with no music? Or feel Howl's inner conflict without the score? The music takes me into the fantastical world of Miyazaki. Each character has it's own theme. The joyful Totoro theme: I just had to youtube it! It's great, definitely check it out.

Now, we're back on the topic of travel. Doesn't music just take you places? I know it does for me. Can you just see the misty, open, sea when the Pirates of the Caribbean theme plays? Or Hogwarts castle when "Hedwig's Theme" plays? Composers know music takes people places, one of of musics multifaceted talents. I know for a fact the film cast of Harry Potter purposely played "Hedwig's Theme" at the precise moment when Harry enters the castle again in the last Harry Potter film. That's because they know the audience will respond. The audience has been conditioned to travel to Hogwarts when that theme plays. And to avoid confusion and add emphasis to Harry's return to Hogwarts, the theme was used in that moment.

Ballet is another example. Can you just imagine ballet without music? Imagine the Nutcracker without Tchaikovsky's famous score? Clara's adventure with the prince? It's just not possible. Even that pop song, I don't relate to at all, takes me back to the summer that song was popular. I think that's why I can like and listen to pop music and it's meaningless lyrics, it's just about the catchy melody in that instance. I tune out the lyrics. Of course, in some cases lyrics are really important. Oh music, you're so CooL.

I do miss the films back in the day when there were no sound effects and music provided the effects.

(What a long post! I should've split it. But then I would have posted three times today, so I'll leave it.)

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