Last semester, I took a class called “Instrumentation and Arranging.” In it, we learned techniques to write music and to write for different instruments. As a music ed major, I had been learning a lot of these things in music theory classes and pedagogy classes, but with this one, we got to apply and write and experience it. I loved the class, and the final project. What was this final project, you ask as I put words in your mouth? Well, I’m gonna write about it.
The final project was to arrange or write a full-length musical composition or arrangement ourselves. It was really fun!
I had wanted to write music for a long time, but I didn’t really know how to go about it. This class not only gave me a place to start, it gave me motivation I needed to actually write and finish the piece. So, the idea of the piece was to share the gospel without using words. I grew up in a Lutheran church, singing hymns that are quite familiar to all of us, so I took themes from hymns and then wrote original themes to represent sin and transitions and everything. Each theme was representative of something. For example, “This is my Father’s World” is the theme of God, that he is ultimately in control. “Crown Him With Many Crowns” represents Jesus’s victory, and “Just a Closer Walk With Thee” represents the relationship we can have with God. Feedback told me today (because I presented this piece at my college’s symposium this morning) that the lines play just long enough to get the tune in your head, but then it moves to another. In the end, none of the songs were left stuck in the head because they fit together just so. I used techniques I have learned like augmentation and diminution; I paid attention to articulation and dynamics. I was intricate and through all the detail, everything fits together. I was really excited to present today, and with the handful of music illiterate audience members paying attention and interested, maybe, I feel I did well. I hope I communicated in a way that was understood to even them.
Music is a powerful medium; it tugs at emotions. I truly hope that when listening to this piece, others can hear the gospel in it, as well: God’s being before everything, man’s sin, Jesus’ arrival and his crucifixion, his resurrection, and the fact that we can have a relationship with him. It is all so great!
Last night, I met with my fabulous musicians for a run-through before this morning’s presentation, and I brought an extra person to video tape us. I uploaded it to YouTube this morning, so you can hear it! 🙂 The full title is “This is for my Father’s Glory: Music of his Love Story.” Comment below and tell me what you think!
Anna E. Olson, as I’m learning to compose/arrange music (it’s super fun!)