About Peisinoe (Haunted Dreams)

This blog entry will be about a recording I uploaded to YouTube yesterday, Peisinoe (Haunted Dreams).

A friend said:

Very difficult piece to execute. There is some sadness in the feelings I get from this beautiful piece. What was your inspiration behind this?

Here is my answer, as the "inspiration" behind it is rather amusing.

If you're familiar with TED Talks, you might have seen this one: http://www.ted.com/talks/jennifer_lin_improvs_piano_magic.html

If you start around minute 16, after Jennifer Lin's piano performance, she does an improvisation exercise with Goldie Hawn choosing notes for her from which to improvise. When I first saw this I thought that's really cool, I wonder if I can do that? So I created my own flash cards, picked four random notes and with just a little practice found I could do the same thing. Since then I've done these improvisational drills on a regular basis. Sometimes cool stuff comes out, sometimes not, and sometimes I just plain crash and burn.

I recently graduated from C major flash cards to the entire chromatic scale, and it's been an adjustment. I still can't improvise on the fly with that, and what I come up with using four random notes from the entire chromatic scale ends up being much richer and more elaborate than with just C major.

So I was doing my usual improvisational drills where I sit down and pick four random notes and I picked G, G#, B, and C and I thought: you've got to be kidding me. Really?! I was exasperated, but then the first part popped into my head and what I do is cheat, I improvise to a point where I can loop back around to the beginning. Then it's really not improvisation after that, it's elaborating on what I improvised and practicing at the same time. The other reason I do that is because at last year's high school vocal group reunion I showed some former classmates what I could do, and two classmates were improvising on the fly on top of what I was doing (guitar and voice), it was amazing. Turning it into a repeating looping track would make it easier (kind of my version of "training wheels" for now) if we ever decided to go for it and attempt a live "collective off-roading" performance.

But then I realized this was more than just one of my usual improvisational drills, and I turned it into a real composing session. When I got stuck, I would step away, let my subconscious soak on it for awhile, come back and sure enough I'd figure out the next part until finally, I completed it.