Vulnerability in the Creative Process A/K/A Make Lemonade

Vulnerability in the Creative Process A/K/A Make Lemonade.

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Fine Silver Repousse Leaf Dichroic Glass Pendant

This pendant that will be exhibited at the UofM Hospital from February -April. Honored to be asked by one of my metalsmithing teachers, Dan Neville. It was a challenge to shape the leaf to hold the glass with leaf veining … Continue reading

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Take Part in the Conversation

The Ecstacy and the Agony of Lyrics.

Just part of my sharing on all things creative process.

Enjoy and join in conversation if you have an offering.

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The Ecstacy and the Agony of Lyrics

Lyrics are like ecstacy and agony at the same time. Whether writing them or hearing them, they evoke. Maybe Facebook needs and “Evoke” button, because I’m not sure what the “Poke” button is supposed to be about LOL.

I’m carrying my notebook and electronic devices in a more creative way of late.  If I’ve learned anything in my life, I have learned that when I hear an inkling of a muse calling, I need to drop just about everything and follow it or it will leave for an undetermined length of time.  Even if it is an inconvenience, I should do it and not feel guilty or self-indulgent.  Amazingly, I always find a way to live on less sleep or whatever it takes.

Now to find a way to make sure more of my ideas find a way to completion.   The few completed songs I have to claim came in an epiphany moment–through a joke, a play on words, a conversation or online texting.  Other times, I’ll listen to a song and be intrigued or disturbed by a line or word choice and suddenly a germ of an idea pops into my mind.

The current lyric came this morning as I was pondered multiple songs I listened to right before falling asleep.  It’s another extended metaphor thing.  I hope it won’t come out forced or contrived.  It’s seeming pretty natural, getting the point across without forcing the related terminology.  I have enough lyrical lines and partial stanzas to make a song already…It’s now a matter of flowing the concepts, finishing empty spots.  I think I have a couple verses if I can string them right, most of the chorus and a bridge going here.  It’s also more prose oriented, with a rhythmic and rhyme scheme, then a line or two that finished the segment out of that pattern.  We’ll see what that does come melody time..

Thanks for reading…Pop a comment my way if you have a perspective on lyrics, the creative process, or life.   Enjoy!

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It’s Coming on Christmas – A Cappella Bravery

http://danielleblanchard.com/River%20-%20A%20Cappella.mp3     circa 2011

A Cappella singing is a brave thing to do.  You can’t hide behind the acoustics and harmonics of an instrumental accompaniment.  To sing a cappella by yourself allows for a certain freedom, but is even more bare bones exposed.  To sing multiple parts in a recording that is a cappella requires the precision of an ensemble with the added skill of listening for the nuances and breath phrasing without the benefit of seeing other singers for visual cues.

When shedding out an interpretation of a new piece I plan to perform or record, I try to lay down recordings of my different phrases so I can get a better feel of what the audience is hearing in terms of tone, volume, over or under ornamentation, and most important to me, the connection to the lyric in as conversational a manner as possible.

“River” by Joni Mitchell has long been a song I relate to.  I tend to sing in a more calculated voice in comparison to Joni, who sounds more “fly by the seat of your pants” in her phrasing–not concerned with perfection of tone, pitch and inflection.  I have spent so long mastering my craft to be as “perfect” in the studio that I can easily over-think it.  This vocal practice session is an exercise in finding a balance between her way of singing and mine.  I love the vulnerability of the a cappella on this type of song so much that it’ll be hard to coordinate a piano without accidentally making the listener more aware of a rhythmic pulse.

I will be archiving posts to my Facebook here that were actually shared earlier this month as I started sharing a Live performances.  Not only had it been a reaching out to my former students who are adults, spreading the holiday spirit in music, but it has also become a bit of a personal project.

I have decided it’s time to do more recording and performing in 2013.  I do so much work in the studio for clients that time is a luxury.  My voice take more punishment than I would like on a daily basis as I use it to teach 8 hours of the day.  While I love the fun textures you can play with when your voice is under the weather, it isn’t recommended for overall vocal health.  This practice session was fun and frustrating at the same time, because I usually don’t have inherent air escapage.  I used it here to a stylistic advantage, but it takes every trick in your breath control bag.

I deleted the “Jingle Bells” intro the piano usually does and have been toying with doing some overlapping carols in vocal textures as an intro.  If the muse strikes and I can arrange vocal accompaniment lines, that might be an option.  I don’t want to take away the vulnerability… Let me know what you think about it, and where you would like to see it go…

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Vulnerability in the Creative Process A/K/A Make Lemonade

drummer_boyLITTLE DRUMMER BOY

Little Drummer Boy Rough Demo

Circa 1993, Steve Adams and I were doing some creative sessions, and we decided to mess around with Christmas music.  He was noodling around with the little progression used as interlude between the verses on an actual Fender Rhodes.  We were using a “Sound On Sound” tape system (analog, baby!), and one of the harmonies wouldn’t line up with the original melody track.  I liked, however, and we kept at it, running with the idea of layered echoes as one of the harmonic threads.  The problem was that we could never tell which ones would cooperate.  After much frustration, it became a bit of a creative muse chasing game.  If something didn’t go as planned, we had to find a way to make it part of the arrangement.

That’s the funny thing about creativity and taking a risk and being vulnerable.  Some great ideas come from allowing a perceived mistake or problem to become a tool to build something new and different…and sometimes better than the original plan.

Enjoy, and Merry Christmas to all the “Drummer Boyz” I’ve ever played with.  There have been quite a few, and each one adds something different to a session.

http://www.DanielleBlanchard.com/LittleDrummerBoy.mp3

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The Only Christmas Tree For Me – Original

The Only Christmas Tree for Me – Danielle Blanchard Original  Click Link for AUDIO
I have never found writing songs to be an easy thing.  I have piles of lyrics with no melody and almost as many unfinished lyrics.  The times when I’ve completed a song have usually come in a rush of mental activity, and I am smart enough to know that feeling and I follow it no matter what.  When this happens, I hear much of the lyrics in one swoop, so I pull over in my car, or whatever it takes.  During that initial muse session, I hear some or all of the melodic lines that fit, and then tweak as the rest of the sections of the song take shape.

I was in a particular period of my life that brought some of the highest happiness I have known, and later some very good vocal artistry through pain.  I was sitting talking about the upcoming holidays that year, and I mentioned those sweatshirt you see once in awhile of a wooden cross with a wreath on it, trying to fuse the secular with a reminder of original intent.  Somehow in that conversation I said “The Only Christmas Tree for Me is an Old Rugged Cross.”  BAM!  it began and I excused myself to go upstairs and be with my thoughts.

Gene Grier, a wonderful composer I worked and sang for from age 17, always loved evergreens, and his independent choral publishing company is EverGreen Morning Press. I have to think that Christmas trees being “Ever Green” helped me in the chorus to describe God’s love in his gift.

The song is just as much an Easter piece in that the metaphor represents Christ’s mission as an adult.  I have placed the lyrics below to listen along.  I have a rough demo with more instruments, and hope to find an archived recording session file of my nephew as a child singing this with such innocence and style.  I also hope to release this piece in the coming year if I can get the musicians lined up.

In the meantime, you’ll have to settle for me in a performance for the Baptist Women’s Convention where I had bronchitis and had to use every bit of vocal technique to breath and not cough during the one hour performance.  It’s not the quality I would normally make public, but if it touches you in any way, feel free to share the link with people I don’t know, and leave a comment, question or observation.  Blessings to all this CHRISTmas  🙂    Danielle

Please Do Not Copy Without Permission on how to credit the author

The only Christmas Tree for Me is an old rugged cross
A tree that until Christmas day could only stand for pain and loss
But on the day that Christ was born, there was a blessed plan
That he would one day climb that tree to save the souls of man.

And like the evergreen is his love for me
A never-changing, tall, triumphant tree
Ever pointing toward eternity–
The gift he wants to share with me.

And all the decorations sparkle bright
To remind us of that wondrous night
When a star from Heaven took its flight
To guide us to God’s son, our only light.

I look upon the cross and see a pillar of God’s power
A tower of his endless strength, guiding every hour
And branching from that trunk I see two strong and loving arms
Stretched far and wide, I run inside, to shield me from life’s harms

And like the evergreen is his love for me
A never-changing, tall, triumphant tree
Ever pointing toward eternity–
The gift he wants to share with me.

And all the decorations sparkle bright
To remind us of that wondrous night
When a star from Heaven took its flight
To guide us to God’s son, our only light.

On the day of his nativity
His destiny was Calvary
His one sole purpose was to give
So that you and I can live forever.

The only Christmas Tree for Me is an old rugged cross
A tree that until Christmas day could only stand for pain and loss
But on the day that Christ was born, there was a blessed plan
That he would one day climb that tree to save the souls of man.

Copyright Danielle R. Blanchard, 2000

 

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