The perfect song

I have this thing about perfect songs: sometimes I want to create my own arrangement of a perfect song, but it’s already perfect, so now what?

Silent NIght is a perfect song, and I had been hoping to include it on The Rebirth of Light, only…the carol is perfect as it is. What could I do that was unique to me but did not impose on the beauty of the original? One evening, alone at a friend’s house and playing her piano, the arrangement came to me in a sweet simple flow of sound. How? I have no idea. Why? Because I wanted it to, and I accepted each sound that came through my hands and kept going. (Does that sound like a “how” to you? It’s not. There was no “how” involved, because there really wasn’t any thinking involved. I love it when that happens!) (And also when I can remember what I played when that happens. That’s the best.)

I’m creating arrangements of spiritual songs now—hymns mostly, but not entirely. To me one of the perfect hymns is Old Hundredth, what most people know as the Doxology, even if they aren’t into hymns very much. I love everything about Old Hundredth: its melody and its harmonies and its words. It is so simple, and it holds a universe in that simplicity. It’s simply perfect.

And I want to include it in this collection of music!

The opening verse and the final chords have come to me in one of those wonderful waves of, “Here I am, play me.” That leaves 4 verses that were not given, that must be found. My current version is a little too busy in some of the later verses, I think, so we’re back to that moment when notes have to go away.

I’m not trying to create the “perfect arrangement,” by the way. Just an arrangement that expresses the beauty that already exists, in my voice. 

(PS: I played my new arrangement of Old Hundredth on Facebook Live; just visit my Facebook page and click on videos to hear it. Warning: the piano sound is, frankly, horrible. We’ll be playing with mics in the near future, and then I’ll play this music again.)

© 2006-2020 Topaz Productions • Email Kathleen