Posted on

Throwback Thursday~A Musical Passion


In the year 2000 I got a crazy idea to write both the script and songs for a fully staged musical drama entitled YESHUA. It was a wild adventure that began with a small, one act Good Friday presentation at our church, then ballooned into a two and a half hour two act show, complete with sets, dancers, a full choir and lots of bells and whistles (including a 500 year old dried out tree).  We presented YESHUA for 3 consecutive years at a local performing arts center.

My goal in writing this production was to do something different with what we commonly refer to as the Easter story, so I flavored the show with elements of the passion story’s historically Jewish roots through Hebrew dance, authentic Hebrew costumes, and a musical score laced with Jewish melodies.

Early on in the creation of YESHUA, Nathan and I decided that we wanted music to back the entire show, as if it were being presented on film.  More than orchestral accompaniment for all the songs, we wanted scene music that would set the mood, the time and place; music that would enhance the emotional ebb and flow of the story.  As I wrote the script I worked with Nathan on the timing of scenes so that the action would move smoothly from scene to scene, the pace driven by music.  It was, at the time a novel concept, made possible because Nathan was able to create the entire score on his keyboard.  During our work sessions I would read through the scenes aloud, and together we would decide what type of music the scene and dialogue required, how much music there should be, and when to leave blank spaces.

Nathan Allen Pinard
Nathan Allen Pinard hard at work.

Nathan then created CDs that contained all the scene music and song accompaniment.  We began rehearsing with the CD right from the start so the actors could learn their cues and work out the timing of their dialogue, scene changes, and the dramatic flow.  This was especially effective in the trial scene where I required the actors to speak their dialogue in a rapid fire confrontational style.

Going into rehearsal, we were not at all sure how this would work, but the entire cast and crew were thrilled by the result! As the director of the play I was able to get more out of my actors because Nathan’s music is very emotive.  There is gorgeous scene music when Yeshua (Jesus) prays in the garden and when he sings the modern aria I wrote for him.  A suspenseful percussion-heavy score beats behind the trial scene, and the crucifixion scene allowed Nathan to compose the music of tears.

We are happy to share this clip from the crucifixion scene; with music by Nathan Allen Pinard and dialogue by Corey Bretsch and Brian Knapp with Vocals by Bonnie Pinard.  This particular piece of music contains a lot of dark sound and vocal design with a celtic feel at the end, because well-Nathan likes to work outside the box!

Posted on

Music and Lyrics ~ The Birth of a Song

796px-Monarch_Butterfly_resting_on_fennel,_at_the_Pismo_Butterfly_Grove,_California
Photo by docentjoyce under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

I often wonder what the circumstances were when the very first song was created by a human being, and which came first…the lyrics or the melody?  Who discovered that one could combine a melody with words?  Were there instruments involved or just a voice and a thought, a feeling, an idea or a story?  No one knows for certain.  Somehow the notes and words merged into one and something remarkable happened.  A song was born.

Each individual songwriter works under their own process, but I can only tell you about mine.

For me the lyrics almost always come first, I suppose because I began writing poetry long before I became much of a singer.  Like many songwriters, I started writing poems as child to express myself and to explore the world around me.   I find songwriting to be a fantastically personal, spiritual and intimate experience.  I never start out writing a lyric or poem for anyone but myself.  I never even think about whether or not there is a commercial market for a song idea, and I never give a thought to following a certain set of rules or strong structure.  I simply write about what moves me, what I care about and what I am feeling.

This is perhaps why I have never had a “hit” song?

For me the lyrics are either inspired or they are not.  I don’t formulate or force song lyrics-they just come into my head.  An idea for a song will strike me, then I’ll sit down with my computer, set up a file and type the first few lines and a title.  From there the words start to flow, with most of my song lyrics written in a matter of 5 to 10 minutes!   Once the flurry of emotion has been expressed and I get across what I am trying to say, I will then break the song down-work on the language and images, work out the cadence as the melody often begins to emerge at this stage.

There are times however, when a song idea just doesn’t work.  I get the initial inspiration, but for unknown reasons, it doesn’t go any farther than that.  Those go into my “pending” file, and I have been known to revisit old song ideas to “borrow” from bits and pieces of rejected lyrics.

I find writing the lyrics much more enjoyable than composing the melody, but there have been rare occasions when a melody floated into my mind, so strong and so pervasive that it begged for a lyric, reversing the process.  I can think of once such instance.  I was standing at the sink doing the dishes, just staring out the window.  Suddenly out of nowhere comes this melody into my mind.  I start to hum it.  It sounds vaguely familiar.  I think to myself, “where have I heard this before?” I flip through the catalogue of known music in my brain.  Can’t name a song or piece of music that sounds like this, so I figure it is original.  It is mine.  I stand there humming this melody with tears streaming down my face because it moves me so.

The melody was eventually paired with a lyric, which then became a prayer, then a fully orchestrated song performed by soloists and a choir in our musical drama, YESHUA.

But that was a rare happening in my songwriting life.  That was special.

To compose songs, to write song lyrics that tell stories, explore human emotion, and make people feel something is an honor and a joy!

I would like to share with you a a song lyric I wrote a few months ago.  It is a “music orphan” and has no melody as of yet-but when it does it will become a song, clothed in Nathan’s exquisite orchestration, recorded by a beautiful voice and featured on our next  CD.

 

The Acorn Box
Bonnie Anne Pinard
copyright June 6, 2013

She removes the box from a secret place
Opens the lid with a smile on her face

The metal flashes in the window’s light
Soon the pain will make everything alright

Father in the next room, drunk and unaware
Plays the starring role in every nightmare

The box hides the blade like her smile hides the fear
No one else knows what goes on in here

Chorus: A shiny blade, the ribboned skin
To keep the pain from seeping in
A slash of red is all she needs
She’s pure again when she bleeds

Her friends only see the smile she fakes
They all believe in the lies she makes

A made up dream, it’s all pretend
She believes in magic when she cuts again.

Her mother’s gone, left the acorn box behind
Her friends don’t understand, seems the world is blind

The only way out is to feel the purge
She tries to stop but can’t fight the urge

Chorus: A shiny blade, the ribboned skin
To keep the pain from seeping in
A slash of red is all she needs
She’s pure again when she bleeds

She rolls up the sleeve, marks her aim
Takes a deep breath and welcomes the pain

She closes her eyes, starts the fall
It’s better to hurt, than feel nothing all

(interlude to change the tone)

Outside her window, it’s mid July
She spies the flash of a butterfly

She turns her head for a better view
Watches it swirl in the sky of blue

Bridge (an angelic choir repeating) :
hold on, stay strong
choose life, choose hope
fly free soar high
like the butterfly

Monarch wings reflect the light
She drops the blade to watch its flight

She stands to her feet, sets the box aside
Unlocks the window, opens it wide

She holds out her hand, the creature comes near
Through the window it flies, it has no fear

Ever so softly it lights on her arm
Where the blade tore her flesh,
Upon the scars of self harm

(an angelic choir repeating) :
hold on, stay strong
choose life, choose hope
fly free soar high
like a butterfly

Posted on

Throwback Thursday~The Shepherd’s Call

One of the greatest joys a musician can have is participating in the creation of music. For composers, songs and music find various pathways into the listening world. Some argue that writing music is a technical process which involves a certain mechanism of the human brain…but there are some melodies that when first heard, resonate so richly in the heart and the ear that you may think you have heard them before-or that they have always been.

I can think of several well known melodies which fit that description: “O Danny Boy” comes immediately to mind; “Silent Night”; Paul McCartney’s “Yesterday”, and for fans of classical music, well known arias like “O Mio Babbio Caro”. These pieces are imbued with an emotional component that, depending on your personal taste in music, can easily evoke a special time or place in your life.

This was my experience when I first heard Nathan’s composition The Shepherd’s Call. I remember hearing the first strains of this Celtic inspired piece years ago wafting up from our basement home studio. I literally stopped what I was doing and drew in my breath at the beauty of it. And not just the beauty of it, but the haunting familiarity of it; as if I had heard that melody before, long ago-like the resonating sweetness of a beautiful dream one faintly remembers upon waking up. I listened as Nathan orchestrated the track then recorded the solo part on a 10 dollar penny whistle. I racked my brain trying to recall where I had heard that music before and figured it was from some popular film soundtrack. It was instantly hummable and it delicately hurt my heart-but in that good way music can sometimes hurt.

Later when I questioned Nathan about what he had been playing, when he told me it was his own composition I was floored. Not that I didn’t think him already capable of writing gorgeous music. I just didn’t know he could write THAT kind of gorgeous music.

Although the piece has been performed live twice; once by a full college orchestra and once by a small church orchestra-The Shepherd’s Call has been under wraps for a number of years, just waiting for the world to discover it. Our intention for this piece is to turn it into an actual song to be recorded by Celtic vocalist http://siobhanowen.com

The lyric has not even been written yet, and who knows if it will even retain the working title of The Shepherd’s Call, but please enjoy this rare recording of the instrumental version, certain to transport you to a familiar, heart tugging moment in time…and have a musical day!

Bonnie Anne~the IA team

946808_61fb7d94Photo © Copyright Nigel Mykura and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

Posted on

In The Beginning … There Was Music!

Early Cover Design - Chanson de l'Ange music
Concept cover graphic done in the early years of the writing of Chanson de l’Ange.

Have you ever read a book and heard a soundtrack in your head as you scanned through the pages?  Some books just seem to demand music behind the story, and even for those folks who have no musical talent or background, they may recall a piece of music or a song that could fit right in with a favorite novel.

In the writing of her novel Chanson de l’Ange, from the very first Bonnie Anne could “hear” music as she typed the words; music that heightened the atmosphere of a certain scene or moment in the story, making it come more alive.  Given that her novel takes place in the musical world of opera, song lyrics and theatrical performances are threaded throughout the unfolding plot-so it was only natural that she take song lyrics from the book and compose melodies, in addition to writing songs inspired by characters in the novel.

Long before Immortal Aria was founded, Nathan and Bonnie Anne were a song writing team.  As recorded on the “ABOUT” page, prior to Chanson de l’Ange they had collaborated on a number of projects, so in 2006 when Bonnie Anne wrote the Chanson de l’Ange aria (later recorded by Toni Gibson for the CD), Nathan agreed to orchestrate.

Soon after, based on specific scenes from the novel, he composed a couple of instrumental scene music pieces with a cinematic flair, and this led Bonnie Anne to compose more songs as they came up with the idea for a full CD of original music; a companion to the novel.

Although the first song was composed in 2006, with real life schedules and other personal issues getting in the way, the project didn’t really get off the ground until this year, and Immortal Aria is thrilled that the Chanson de l’Ange CD production is finally in full gear!

Over the past year, in working with the artists collaborating on the Chanson project, Nathan and Bonnie Anne began to see the potential for other independent projects outside the Chanson de l’Ange CD, so in the spring of 2013 they decided to form their own “group” and named it Immortal Aria.

Immortal Aria is now looking ahead to writing and composing future CDs; working with other musicians and recording artists to create the kind of music they love.

We hope you will follow us along this journey…and we wish you a musical day!

The IA team

Posted on

InRandom.com: The Words of Chanson de l’Ange Intricately Woven into Orchestral Works

A good friend of ours over at InRandom.com wrote an article about us. Check it out here, or click on the link leading to the article at InRandom.com.

http://inrandom.com/immortal-aria-the-words-of-chanson-de-lange-intricately-woven-into-orchestral-works/

About inRandom: “Angie and I decided to create inRandom when we wanted a place to express ourselves as mothers, as wives and as women; a place we could go to open ourselves up when the world felt claustrophobic. inRandom began as a word that referred to acts of kindness, which were without intention or expectation. Now it has expanded to encompass many things about ourselves: our stories, our hopes, our ideas, passions, beliefs and vision. “

 

The Words of Chanson de l’Ange Intricately Woven into Orchestral Works

Immortal Aria Logo

I believe there are people who are born to imbue us with beauty through artistic talent. As if it is a part of their nature to create the ebb and flow of the universe into something tangible that we can see, touch, smell, taste or hear. I’ve always been slightly envious of these creators, especially those that have become pieces in my life.

Nathan Pinard and I bumped into each other while I was spending time in the Machinima community where many artists used their skills to create movies from MMORPG’s (Massively Multiplayer Online Role-playing Game). I had shared about his original pieces in Gemini Rue last year. He has a natural talent for evoking emotion through his music that is awe inspiring, but it wasn’t until he had recently asked me to take a peek at his new website that I really grasped the magnitude of his art. The soundtrack for Gemini Rue was incredible, but I honestly think that his new work for Immortal Aria brings out his essence and true artistic capabilities.

Immortal Aria is a collaboration of Nathan and Bonne Anne Pinard’s talents. Bonne Anne is not only a talented musician and songwriter, but she is also known as Paisley Swan Stewart, the author of Chanson de l’Ange – a 3 part series re-telling of Phantom of the Opera. After noticing that her son Nathan had a gift for orchestrating music, she encouraged him in his art and together they had created Immortal Aria. Their first CD, The Bleeding Rose, is based on the original songs and story from her novels.

Chanson de l’Ange novels

Vocalists & Musicians Featured on The Bleeding Rose is:

To showcase the incredible talent of Immortal Aria, here is a featured lyrical video of The Bleeding Rose, with vocalist Toni Gibson and violinist Maria Lazareva. This specific piece is inspired and based on the 2nd book in Chanson de l’Ange of the same name.

“The Bleeding Rose continues Christine’s journey into an unorthodox attachment to her invisible teacher, and a bond of obsession and music is forged as her dark Angel methodically makes himself known. Through the illusory dreams of her adolescent desires, Christine will discover that not all angels have wings and not all devils are what they seem to be…for there are two sides to the Angel’s enchanted mirror.”

I believe The Bleeding Rose orchestral and operatic piece is an elegant compliment to the inspired vision of the original Phantom of the Opera. The lyrics come directly from The Bleeding Rose novel and are sung with such poetic passion that it makes you ache. I hadn’t heard of the 3-part series until being introduced to Immortal Aria, but after hearing the words dancing in the air it makes you want to consume the story along with the music. What better way to spend an evening then reading by candlelight with a glass of wine while Immortal Aria whisks you away into some other realm of beauty?

Take a moment to listen. These are incredibly talented and gifted creators and musicians, but most endearing is that they are also family. We strive to push our children towards their dreams, to uplift and inspire them to become what they desire above all things and I feel that Bonne Anne Pinard & Nathan Pinard, with their creation of Immortal Aria, is the manifestation of that hope.

Connect: You can find more information about Immortal Aria and upcoming releases by visiting their Facebook Page and/or @ImmortalAria on Twitter. You can listen to available tracks on their Youtube Channel and find more information on the inspired novels by Paisley Swan Stewart on Chanson de l’Ange.

Purchase: You can purchase the single The Bleeding Rose on iTunes & CDBaby.