Richard had written a couple of melodies, which he played to me as soon as I arrived. It sounds like he had a lot of fun writing them. they were very quirky and there was a lot of playful humour (sudden atonal flurries of notes amongst more standard melodies). He has obviously understood the grid that we set up and how it works with Sibelius. I was relieved that his lack of music reading had not hindered him and that he had embraced the challenge of writing in notation.
I arrived with lots of notes on how I was going to modify Richard’s grid, as I needed to work fast so Richard had plenty of time to try it out. I got it going in about 15 minutes and we had great fun with Richard writing a chord sequence. We tried to think of all of the chord types that he would use (he was particularly insistent that I include suspended chords) and I added them as we worked.
After about an hour, Richard had composed a short, jazzy chord progression. He clearly knows what the chords are going to sound like and the music had a lovely sense of harmony.
As Vashti has already made a grid for Richard, I am trying to explain what I am doing as I go, so that she can use any tips that I pass on to improve his other grid and so that she can maintain or modify the grid that I have made when I am not there. Vashti has expressed an interest in learning to play the chords for Richard’s music so that he can hear it live.
By the end of the session, Richard had the means to write a chord sequence with a melody. I think that we have progressed amazingly quickly in 4 hours! Vashti mentioned that Richard used to start with lyrics so maybe I can find a way of working that into his grid for next week.
One of the most difficult barriers we face is with communication. In the sessions I am very focused on progressing the software so that he has all of the tools that he needs to express his ideas, which has left me with very little time to get to know him very well. I imagine that when we have got things moving along and that I am tweaking his software rather than building it from scratch that I will learn more about his musical tastes.
It is clear to me, even at this early stage that he has specific compositions that he wants to get down and he and Vashti were both very pleased by the end of the session, as they could hear the chord progression hat he had written in a short space of time.
In the following weeks I have received a few texts from Vashti telling me that Richard is really having fun with the set up. I am keen to hear his music in the next session.