About a year ago, my first single, “Closure”, finally released on major online music streaming platforms, and I was in heaven.
Even though it hadn’t hit the charts yet, and though it would probably take a lifetime given my monthly average of 10 active listeners (including myself), I’m grateful and very proud of it. I regard him as my “firstborn”, conceived in my heart, begotten and patiently nurtured in my mind for months until the world hears its first “cry”.
The thing is, I’m not a professional singer. I have no formal training or education in music, and I do not make a living from it. While I can sort of carry a tune, my singing voice, which sounds like my spoken voice combined with a few head and falsetto tones, doesn’t even compare to that of many popular band singers who can make the heart turn pale. people with their cool riffs and runs.
I guess all I have is love and passion for music. Inspired by OPM groups like Sugarfree and Rivermaya, and foreign artists like Ed Sheeran, JP Saxe, Finneas and Sleeping At Last. I listen to them every day and music is the air I breathe. Writing lyrics, giving them melodies and singing them – initially for my own consumption – is something that I have come to love and have been doing since high school. Soon I learned to play the guitar and also the ukulele.
Making music, however, is not as easy as it sounds. This is far from the overnight magic that some fans assume when they eagerly await the release of new pop music albums.
You see, playing in my mind a harmonious tune and lyrics that match the beat is a tedious and repetitive process of trial and error, like a science experiment and an art project where you create and recreate.
I needed to have at least a basic understanding of tones, chords and notes, to stay within a range that my voice will allow me to do, and to have an insightful ear for identifying the parts that sounded good and another for. hear what is wrong.
I had to consider the words that make up the verses, the tempo that builds the story and the emotions that my listeners will feel.
I also dealt with the doubts along the way. Am I good enough? Would people like? Would people like to listen to it and replay it? To silence the noise in my head, I had to constantly remind myself that I was doing this first and foremost for myself, because no one owed me their attention in the first place.
Sometimes I felt stuck, playing for a few hours doing nothing. So I would rest my mind, go for a walk, or do something else, until a burst of inspiration got me back on track.
So I continued to write, revise and explore, repeatedly and thoroughly. Until the pieces of melodies that were playing in my head, like complicated puzzle pieces, finally snap into place and become a full song, sounding like the finished story I had always imagined.
The next task was to record the instrumental or backing tracks, and in my case, I had to contact a professional to refine one of his works and produce it for me. The conceptualization of a suitable cover (luckily, I had a cousin who helped me design it) came next. The rest, as they say, is history.
Hearing my own track for the first time was literally and figuratively music to my ears. It not only gave me the “kilig” and goosebumps, but also the confidence that I can do whatever I put my mind and heart into. More importantly, it made me appreciate the effort (and often the collaboration) behind each song even more, especially from other budding artists who are still waiting for their chance to be heard.
It made me rediscover the high emotional level, that inexplicable joy of creating something out of nothing – one that I can call my own, an extension of myself now immortalized in an audio recording the size of a megabyte. digitally stored in cyberspace.
In addition to rendering covers of songs in GarageBand and uploading them all to Facebook, making my own music has also been my catharsis throughout the pandemic. My first single, for one, kept me sane and helped me defeat my own demons and ghosts from the not so distant past.
It also made me realize that connecting with people through music – demanding melodies and lyrics that aptly describe feelings or encapsulate experiences that many people usually can’t find the right words for – is. one of the most beautiful and underrated gifts there is.
I have always believed that a beautifully composed song can take many forms. From a dim light saying “There is hope”, a pat on the back saying “You did well” to a warm hug saying “It’s okay. I’m here. “I want my music to be just that. More than just a way to express my vulnerabilities, I hope my music can also inspire another soul, if not help one person through another day.
Yes, making music doesn’t always guarantee money and fame. But I think it’s safe to assume it’s still a blessing for its creator and for good listeners. For me, that feeling of being heard, somehow validated and constructively criticized, is enough. It is mentally therapeutic and liberating. And if it made a difference in the life of one soul, isn’t it all the more worth it?
Right now I’m taking my time to work on my next singles. After all, releasing songs and compiling them into a full-fledged album isn’t so much a destination, but a personal journey that isn’t meant to be rushed.
To all dreamers, create your own music, have fun, and take it one word and one note at a time. Writing it from the heart is all that matters. Everything else is just a bonus.
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Jerome Ian A. Arbonida, 29, is a graduate of the UP College of Nursing, a singer-songwriter who also dabbles in poetry and painting. He donated the earnings from his first single to a child whose mother died of COVID-19.
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