I recently completed my second CD entitled “French” and wanted to explain a little about the process just in case you wanted to get clarity on finishing your own project.
Sometimes our artistic creations must take a back seat even for professional artists. We have to make money and so our day to day activities, consisting of earning through means of service or teaching take precedence. No one is going to pay us for practicing, filming, writing, painting or sculpting, at least not initially. However, our daily consistent and unpaid efforts can amount to a great deal including money. It takes a leap of faith, trust in our artistry, and great conviction of purpose. We must strike a balance as artists if we want to live a quality life, earn money and produce great works of art.
With each CD, I have gotten a vision or a theme usually about two years ahead of the completion of the project. I reflect on the repertoire and its relative cohesion, and sometimes I choose pieces because I love them or have a personal relationship with them.
For French, I chose pieces that had an impact on my life while living in France for eight years. Les Barricades Mysterieuses is a piece I often heard on the steps of Sacre Coeur played by a street clown. I visited this church often after I had made the difficult choice to carry a surprise pregnancy to term.
L’Entretien des Muses represents the importance of Muses in my life and how often I am met with inspiration and innovation on a regular basis. My muses began to visit me as a young pianist living a dream life in Paris.
Ravel’s Sonatine is the set of pieces I played for my young tiny French son to keep him smiling. Debussy’s Suite Pour Le Piano was chosen for the gorgeous Sarabande and the way it allows me to transcend this world. The entire suite ultimately served as a gateway to a more refined technique and higher realms of interpretation.
As I undergo the process of learning the music or bringing it back, I find things developing in stages. There is the first round of getting notes, fingering, dynamics and really the basics of the music. I play for a mentor three times a year where I basically get raked over the coals and that keeps me in check.
Then there is a point where I hit a wall where I feel I can’t get deeper with my interpretation or my relationship with the music. There is no end to the fixing of details. It can always get better, but I am talking about a kind of fatigue. It almost feels like the “dry period” spiritual teachers speak of before the dark night of the soul and then the big breakthrough.
My process with the music can only undergo metamorphosis if I let go to a higher force. A force which transcends any one of my single faculties like my brain or memory, my physicality and its relationship to the execution of the music or the feelings that are moved in me when I hear it. I often must drill and drill to master a small two bar phrase technically. I take months and months to have the memorization just so. I am often moved by the music, lost in feeling and emotion which then leads to crash and burn of the notes. There is a balance to executing music of this caliber.
Achieving this place of divine oneness with the music, the composer, my own Being and my audience requires solid practice on a daily basis yet much more. I must come to understand the harmony, the form, and the patterns which come together to create the masterpiece. If I am to interpret the music well, I must look deeply phrase by phrase or chord by chord and understand why the composer wrote it the way he did. Bringing out this detail and that detail will allow cohesion for the listener. I must see the gestalt of the composition and I can only do this through living with it and experiencing a progression of insights.
and yet there is more…
I have to let go of the striving, the perfection, the performance… It’s like being with a lover long enough to know little idiosyncrasies and well enough to lose each other into oneness.
I must be close to reaching a point of divine union with the music itself before I decide to go into the studio, but sometimes deadlines get in the way. You can’t really push this perfect storm of execution, inspiration, and musical freedom.
I also must release myself from the painful reminder that recording adds an element of permanence and is very different than performing. That inspired performance happens when it happens and one must be prepared enough to hope that it happens in that studio. inspite of the mics picking up every little foible.
The only way to be sure is to practice your ass off without getting paid…. yet!
The more I refine and perfect, the more I become one with the music, understanding the details while at the same time feeling something move deep inside of me. To the innocent bystanders like my daughter, my husband and my neighbors who hear the music over and over for months, it probably gets annoying. For me, it frees my soul, fulfills my purpose on this planet and provides a conduit to higher realms for those who want to listen.
I hope you enjoy the CD. here’s the link: http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/mollyknightfrench
Please feel free to leave a review at CD Baby once you have gotten it.
May you have many, many hours of inspired listening.