This week’s featured work, from my most recent album, ‘Places with high levels of natural beauty’, is the first of two pieces called ‘Hymn to the Mountains’. I thought I might share with you this week how this music came about.
I had been working on the ‘Places’ CD sporadically for quite some time, across 2014 and 2015, and knew that I wanted some more music in addition to the pieces that I had already decided upon. I wanted the new music to be for piano alone, as an appropriate contrast to the other instrumental / piano music planned for the CD. Yet, between the work on the CD and my job managing the Lower Mountains Neighbourhood Centre, the music that I wanted wasn’t coming forth. Composing music is an interesting process, and for all the thousands of people who write music, the way they are ‘inspired’, or how their music is created, will be different. For me, it is a combination of having enough space to be creative, the discipline to sit down and experiment and draw on my skills and training, and the joy of inspiration when it flows.
For various reasons I was pretty stuck creatively by the end of 2015; overload and stress can do that to you, as you probably know from your own lives, whether it’s being creatively stuck or not just able to see things clearly. Despite my meditation practice, and other life tools I had to draw on, nothing creative musically was happening. Then I had holidays in January and, at the invitation of my sister Leigh and brother-in-law Graeme, spent a few days with them in the place that they were living at the time, in the mid-western region of New South Wales. It’s very beautiful country; it sings to my soul. It so happened that on a very hot Australian summer afternoon, I was home alone (well not quite, I was with their dog Charli,) and with the blessing of air-conditioning, I sat down to listen to some musical notes, improvisations, ideas, I had recorded on my smart phone, in case any of these ideas had potential. ‘No’, ‘maybe’, ‘perhaps’.... were my responses to these little snippets of ideas. Nothing was grabbing me. Charli the dog became bored. Then I spied a hymn book at Leigh and Graeme’s piano, and the thought came to me that I wanted to write a Hymn to the Mountains.
And so, away from my beloved Blue Mountains, I wrote a hymn for my beloved Blue Mountains. And then, after I came home, this further developed into a second hymn, with the same (or similar) frame but a different middle section. I wanted to try and convey, through a simple frame, the immensity of the beauty of the Mountains, and its different colours and moods, including its tensions and resolutions.
So, this week I offer to you, as the music of the week, the first Hymn to the Mountains. With my heartfelt thanks to my sister Leigh and her husband Graeme for providing to me the space that I needed for this music to flow.
Until next time,