I wonder where other people actually write their blog posts? My current “office” is my local Krispy Kreme doughnut cafe. There are worse places to spent your time – and I find the words flow incredibly well over a mocha and a doughnut!
Old fashioned as I am, I always write long-hand – and always in pencil – in a little notebook. Being a touch typist with a prowess of sixty words per minute this is quickly transferred to the laptop.
This friendly, local cafe has also become a place where I do creative work and think about the structure of new compositions. Novelists and writers of all kinds have long been known to write in cafes and restaurants, J.K. Rowling being a prime example in recent times. So if it’s good for novelists it must be good for composers too!
The film “Boyhood” will never so much as enter the top forty of my favourite films – it was too long by a least one third of its running time and the storyline lost its way and went severely off-piste of me around half way through the proceedings. The music choices, however, were clever – and one real musical gem was the song “Hero”, which propelled the band “Family of the Year” from relative obscurity to well-deserved fame.
The subject matter – the burden of responsibility faced by someone growing up and reaching maturity – was almost too perfect a fit for the film. The emotion expressed in the song is very direct and emotional.
But of course I’m listening with the ears of a composer who hears things in terms of construction and technique. Quite apart from the obvious beauty of the melodic line and its accompanying harmonic progressions, what, for me, makes the song so successful in building and maintaining tension and momentum is the interesting fact that it doesn’t use what we call a “perfect cadence” even once in the song until right at the end – after the singing has finished. Every verse ends on an imperfect cadence – or, in the language of the layman, sounds unfinished, as though wanting to move on rather than finish. I would love to know if this was intentional on the part of the song writer. I suspect not, and that it was pure serendipity, growing organically from the feelings expressed in the words. But I think that maybe this element of the song’s construction turned what might have been merely a nice song into a really great song.