Hey everyone, I am back and I have delivered.
I present to you all, please take care of this star.
As I promised in the description of this piece, I am writing this long post detailing the context and the process behind this song, and what I've been feeling during its making and after.
The piece of music, please take care of this star, is actually influenced by a good few things that I feel share the same symbolism. Incidentally, I also did an art piece with the same title, so one could say that this piece was partly influenced by that piece of artwork, as it came earlier.
The lyrics of that piece are ostensibly about an abused child receiving a star from her Maker, and struggling to keep its light going because she is abused into yielding it up or letting it fall into the wrong hands by people who are meant to love her and protect her.
It is also an allegory to Brexit.
At the end of January this year, the campaign group Led By Donkeys screened a farewell message to the European Union from the famous white cliffs of Dover. Said message famously featured the two WWII RAF veterans still alive at the time of making the message, who both voted Remain and who lamented the racism and small-mindedness that led us to that point, and the final two sentences of this message, which sent tens of thousands of young people like myself in tears, read:
The message has stayed in my heart for a long time, and I have long wanted to turn what I felt on that day in January into the kind of energy that would inspire people and tell them what my feelings were.
Having been abused and gaslit plenty by my own parents and others during my childhood and adolescence, I felt I could write from the perspective of a child like this, making it an allegory for how so many young people were talked down to, not listened to, consistently gaslit about our futures. I felt it on a personal level, and with Brexit, this became communal.
The "crown of twelve stars" refers to two things -- the crown of the woman in the book of Revelation, which the Catholic Magisterium understands as Mary, mother of Jesus -- and the twelve stars of the EU flag.
So yes, this song is heavily laden with plenty of emotion and plenty of meanings that are close to my heart. Every single bit of symbolism that I threw into these lyrics is borrowed from things that have galvanised me and that continue to galvanise me. The star of the child in the song could mean a number of things, as a result: Britain's proverbial star in the EU flag, the child's talent or personality that could not be developed, or the growth of the child that has been stunted as a result of abuse.
As I mentioned in the description of the song, as well as in my previous post: I began composing this song on Tuesday 11 August 2020 at 06:30 BST. This would have been my NGUAC knockout round entry, had I not resigned. I kept myself to NGUAC / NGADM constraints, aiming for a deadline of two weeks from the start date, as I had a lot of pent-up anger and consternation to use constructively. Composing the song was a quick affair, as I finished up the full structure complete with tempo envelope on the same day that I started writing. In theory, that meant I could record at any point after that Tuesday -- but I decided to embellish the song further before I started recording the vocals.
And on the subject of vocals and lyrics: the lyrics were part of an impassioned post that I'd written a good while back, detailing my feelings and the feelings of others of my generation and younger in the months leading up to and following Brexit. At the time of writing those, they did not have a tune assigned to them. (At the time of writing those, they also made me weep very bitterly and I thought that I would never see those words again, that it was catharsis and that it would be done and dusted.) What made me ultimately assign these lyrics to the tune that I wrote on the 11th was that it suddenly became topical again, with much of the fallout from what was meant to be a done-and-dusted spectre that had been haunting us since 2016 still going on, and some of it being reported in the news as late as July. The subjects behind the words incited in me many emotions and passions, and so I felt I needed to deliver in my recordings.
I wavered and nearly cried recording the parts.
I also nearly cried when embellishing and finishing up the composition and mixing of the instrumental, a mere six days from the start date. @LD-W and @ForgottenDawn gave the instrumental a once-over before I put in the vocals.
These vocals were the parts that I worried about the most in this song: outside of my delivery of them, I had trouble mixing vocals in the past. I have been known to have a problem of too many medium frequencies -- mids, as we call it -- and too many mids in audio can cause a piercing sound. My Seán physically recoils at piercing mids, and I do so sympathetically to him -- so I wanted to avoid that reaction as best as I could. The mixing and mastering was done with this in mind, above all else.
I finished it today, 19 August 2020, in the early afternoon or so, and I was so relieved and happy that it was done. It felt cathartic. This was the kind of stuff that I used to merely dream of doing when I took part in the 2014 NGADM, back when I did Oceans Wide and did not know a thing about mixing and mastering: I did not dream of the musicality as I believed even back then that I had it in me already; I dreamed of the production. And now, I feel I've done it and far outdone myself. Listening to the master, I felt my own hair standing on end. I thought, yeah, this is good. This is going to be the final version of this piece.
I said I wanted audio submission number 200 to be one that was very close to my heart. And it was. Everything about this song has made me quite emotional, and even thinking about it puts me on an emotional roller-coaster.
I am grateful to have been blessed with the emotional strength to see this song through, because I have not been feeling strong at all. I have been feeling excited and nervous and sad, yes, but not strong.