Composer Performer?

I'm writing songs every day with the intent of performing them myself.

It's the first time that I recall that I'm writing something for me to perform. I've never done it because I never thought of myself as having any real talent for performance... but recent events have taught me that performance does not just have to be about technical proficiency (though it helps).

I've been life modelling for hens parties recently, and what I realised is that I can definitely entertain - naked or clothed - garner the energy of the room and work with it. I used to give very entertaining lectures at University of Sydney and University of Technology where I'd have classes in either stitches or get standing ovations about such great topics as budgeting, philanthropy, administration and governance in music. I guess if I can make excel entertaining anything is possible.

The Feurich piano on loan from John and Sarah Palermo for Gallop House

The Feurich piano on loan from John and Sarah Palermo for Gallop House

So I've been writing songs for me to perform on voice and piano. This is the instrument I've been working on - it has a gorgeous sound, it's a little honky-tonk in some areas as one would expect with a piano of this vintage! 

So far I've got "Little Games" which I ended up transposing up a fifth because I discovered (after some singing lessons) that it was way too low for me. Its harmonic content is pretty complex and I can only play the chords and sing at the same time with that work... I'd like to have a more rhythmic accompaniment but I need to get more confident with it first. "Come Home" in d minor is verging on simplistic, but it is easy enough for me to create a nice lilting broken chord accompaniment... there is one passage where the chords change every note, but they're all easy to get under the fingers and the melody is easy enough to sing. "Another Glass of Wine.... so I stop reminding myself of you" in E major (mind you, when I write in a key, it sort of begins in that key and sort of meanders where-ever the song takes it...), a fast song I wrote whilst having another glass to, well, as we've all done, to keep one's mind off someone. "Les Mots" I've rearranged for myself and piano accompaniment - gosh it's complex harmony to play (a-flat minor... why do I torture myself so). It is in that key because originally I had harp in it and harp sounds better in flat keys (the strings resonate better). "Meth Song" starting in D major, ending in d minor, the title is self explanatory really. "Helpless" is a pretty dark work, very clashy chords, I like it but I know it will be challenging for audiences. "Left Sock", a cute piece about leaving something behind in Sydney... of course it is a metaphor, but everyone's left something they've cared about behind them at some point, so I'm sure this work will speak to you when you hear it.

So that's 7 songs already... insane, between 1.5 mins and 6 mins each... not that I'm planning on recording an album - but I reckon I could write a few more songs, and then an outline of a piano improv piece, and hey presto I'll have a concert to present in Perth!!!

 

---- But I must say, writing for myself has completely shifted the way that I write. I am paying a lot of attention to my vocal range, ensuring there's flexibility with vocal lines, taking more care for breath... I should have been writing for myself at Uni I suspect..

And given I have 3 specific audiences lined up for these works, I'm also considering what showcases my best sides; harmonic, rhythmic, melodic, technique... and what I should avoid to ensure I don't come out dodgy... these are not considerations I've ever had before, and it is scary. It makes me think in future commissions I'll be more attuned to performers strengths and weaknesses...