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Structure was needed for the orchestration of my song « My Moonlight Serenade »

Posted By: Virginie - the online pianist On:


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The main word of my last weeks of music: STRUCTURE…

Working with Pedro on my music makes me discover a new world…and a new word… structure…
Indeed, when I first created my songs back in May/June 2016, I didn’t even have in mind that a song needed to be structured.
I was too concentrated on my piano, on the lyrics, on my voice… Music had been back in my life for only 6 months, so I only felt like playing and creating.
Also, in my life, I rarely had the experience to play with other musicians. I have always been a solo pianist, so as long as I had a bit of structure for myself that I could easily create, follow and duplicate, it answered my own needs.
However, with this project of orchestrating my songs, I rapidly realized that my "bit of structure" was not enough to play with other musicians, nor for studio recording, and this amazing music experience with Pedro showed it to me or maybe I discovered it from him. How can a drummer play on somebody who is not structured enough? He just can’t! :)
So I realized that I had to provide more structure with my piano, by clearly distinguishing the different parts of my songs (musically and rhythmically speaking), so they would be easier to be identified.

One other point I learnt is the way to structure lyrics.
In my other life, I am a Research Director in Environment and Sustainable Development, so I am used to write a lot (releases, posts, reports…), it comes very easily. However, for my songs, I was kind of writing from my heart without thinking lyrics needed rhymes or poetry and structure. I am a creative person who loves Nature, which requires the use of structure behind the creation process :)

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Regarding the writing of lyrics, I recently learnt important things:

  • The first come from Andrea, a friend of mine, who is a talented and gifted musician/songwriter who untertook a wonderful music project of awareness regarding the fact of bringing Brazilian children together around music. He said to me that lyrics must be poetry… He also explained how to organize the lyrics of a song: "the verse should describe the topic of the song and the chorus is made to send the message, the "why" of the song…". When Andrea said that to me, it seemed to be very easy for him, he was very enthousiastic… but for me, it was not easy at all :) It was about becoming a poet and building structure… I also had nearly eight months of singing my songs the way I wrote them and I guess that I understood in Andrea’s words that I had to enter in an evolving and deepening phase with my lyrics.
  • The second things I learnt come from Pedro, the musican/composer/sound engineer who helps me in producing my music in a romantic rock genre. Pedro explained me that lyricists use technics in their writing to structure their songs, such as doing a Short Chorus, a shortening of sentences to focus on the meaning… For my song "My Moonlight Serenade", Pedro suggested me to focus on few sentences following the goals of reinforcing the intensity/repetition of the message. Pedro’s wife is also a lyricist, so I guess they are both used to write lyrics and therefore, they are good advisors for me!

When I hear what both Andrea and Pedro say and do, writing lyrics is about inspiration, nice words to touch your heart, a strong framework, method, technics and commitment!
I understand the meaning of those words and I know how to transform them, so I decided to follow them, to let it go and dive towards something more structured for my lyrics, still keeping the main ideas that I had, but adapting them.

Working on music…my piano…

When I first sent some of the samples that I made to Pedro, he told me straight away that he liked my song "My Moonlight Serenade", however, he found hard to identify, musically speaking, the different parts of the song, meaning behind that it would be hard to put a nice drums line on this structure. To be honest with you, I was kind of expecting it, so I was not surprised. So I agreed straight away to try to structure the piano. It was also the right time to make my music evolve.

One other point is that in my life experience as a pianist, I mostly played the piano in Solo, meaning that I played the whole song (the accompaniment and melody). I played this way before because I didn’t sing while playing. I recall that my friend Mike (another talented guitarist, music composer and songwriter) asked me to try both playing the piano and singing in May 2016, and we are just in March 2017 (the moment when I write this post).

The thing is that playing the piano and singing both together is not easy and I noticed straight away that I had to change my way of playing the piano to put my voice on a song, and at the beginning, I had some very tough times.
However, I had the luck to have an important memory in mind with my Piano Teacher when I was at the Conservatory. One day, we had a very serious conversation and I told her that I would rather play rock like Elton John does, than Classic Music, eventhough I loved Classic. She stared at me and she said that she would show me… and I still can remember that I finished the Conservatory learning another way of playing the piano: the romantic rock piano… She taught me to play in chords, on a romantic way, with a soften melody to touch people’s heart. She also explained that mixing both classic and rock always created a wonderful and grandiose music, and that I could rely on my ears and mind which were educated to the sound of the Grand Orchestra.
This is what I call a human heritage given for life…

Since the beginning of my life back in music, I know that I have to improve my piano. I used to play faster and better and I know that it is a matter of time for me to improve and develop some new pianistic skills. However, eventhough I know this, I felt that I needed some support on a special point : creating a piano part made for an accompaniment of my voice, meaning to compose a music that can empower my voice.
When I first created all my songs, my piano parts were quite easy, based on following increasing or decreasing chords, with easy rhythms to play. I did this because it was easier and faster and honestly, I needed time to put myself again on the road with my piano.

Also, I had a good memory in mind… Do you remember Star Academy in France?? In this TV music show, I always admired the famous pianist, Matthieu Gonnet. He is a wonderful and talented pianist, he creates some of the most sensitive piano accompaniments to empower a voice. He has this softer manner of slowly moving his hands on the piano, while mastering every gesture, he lives music in his body. Matthieu Gonnet is amazing. What I also like in what he does is his skills in piano education and teaching. He is very pedagogue and he likes sharing his piano.

A couple of months ago, while doing some researches for my music, I discovered that Matthieu Gonnet was part of the I-Music School and that he proposed Master Classes in Piano. My mother offered me a one year access to the programme for my 40th Birthday, and since then, I learn from Matthieu Gonnet and I see that I am now able to do new things with my piano. Matthieu makes piano simple and for me, it’s like a liberation, as I sing in my song "Miss Liberty".

So, with all these good advices, I concretely worked on my piano part for the making of my song "My Moonlight Serenade" and now, we can clearly identify the music structure of the song. I used some of Matthieu Gonnet’s tips for the music and it makes it very romantic…
From this new basis of music for the piano, Pedro was able to drum. However, now that the drums part is done, I need to structure my piano more again :)

Adapting the lyrics and tempo to the new piano structure

While creating this new piano structure, one new problem occured, I couldn’t sing easily anymore, so I had to organize the lyrics again, shortening, removing or changing words, trying on different tempos… It was not easy but in the end I did it… I had a structured version of both voice and piano.

Indeed, I now think that this work of structure on the lyrics was necessary, it makes it easier for me when singing, the song is much shorter (my first version was 8:21 minutes, now it’s around 5 minutes) and in the end, it’s nicer and more empowering.

The drums part of my song "My Moonlight Serenade"

Pedro and I decided to create the shape of the song "My Moonlight Serenade" and we created a table identifying each part (intro, verses, short chorus, chorus, musical break, end) and for each, we discussed the instruments, the question was: Which instruments would play when and where?
Once this table done, we were able to identify the different music intentions for each instrument and voice (from spoken, to smooth, to normal, to big, to smooth) and the different transitions for the drums line.
Pedro and I both wanted a growing intention song for "My Moonlight Serenade", with lovely transitions, some romantic parts and a nice presence for the instruments.

When I finished with the recording of the new piano structure, I sent it to Pedro and he recorded the drums part. When I sent him the file, I knew that I would had a response in the upcoming days and I knew that I would enter a new experience with my song, it would become a piano-drums song with a higher dimension…

On Spring Day, I had a wonderful gift from Pedro in my mailbox, he had recorded the drums part and here is what I wrote to him : Dear Pedro, My first reactions were « Wow » and a big smile on my face :) I love it! It’s amazing how your drums part already gives a higher dimension to the song. You know what I like, it’s unique and authentic :) Well done!
I was waiting for this first moment and I am so happy :)

I think that I discovered my song again and I had never experienced this feeling before and it’s just amazing. It’s already very different from the piano version, the song has just grown… And there is so much more to come for…"My Moonlight Serenade".

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What more to say…

I think that the work I am actually doing is like the work I do for the Environment and Sustainable Development. It’s an everyday path with its tough days and magic moments, and in the end it brings joy in the heart, and I guess that’s the most important!
Follow me to know the next steps of the making of my songs.
Many thanks for your support!

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Virginie

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