Category Archives: Irish Influences

Day 17: 365 “Circle Songs”

I went to the vocal improvisation group tonight, the first time I’ve been able to go since the time which started this whole 365 shenanigans.  I needed it; it reminded me why I’m doing this.  It also reminded me how much I need other people, to stretch and inspire and share. So thanks guys.  And here’s a circle song.

Circle 17

-Anne-Marie Hildebrandt

Day 5: 365 “Circle Songs”

Over the course of the past two years my taste in music has changed a bit.  I crave dissonance more than before, my cheese-o-meter is even more sensitive.  This circle song, however, is right in my pocket, in the core of my musical taste.  I’m learning, though, I need to “stay out of my own way” a bit when I sing the solo part.  I’ll be working more on that over the next bunch of these!

This one has some totally random words that popped out of my subconscious.  For those of you that like to know the words and may not be able to understand me, they are:

“There are a hundred lights shining in the bay.  There are a hundred hearts breaking for today.”

Circle 5

-Anne-Marie Hildebrandt

Day 3: 365 “Circle Songs”

Can I just tell you how much I love natural minor?  I also love natural minor with major IV chords, and it’s going to take a concerted effort to not make 362 more of these that are all in natural minor with major IV chords.  Of course there’s also the horrifying possibility that I might actually burn out on it and them, and the thought of this, which would in essence undermine my entire musical identity, is enough to inspire me to pledge to anyone who is reading that “I swear I will not post a circle song in natural minor more frequently than every other day for the year this project extends for.”  Got that?  Hopefully it’s enough.

So here’s Circle 3.  I’m also posting a version without the “solo” part, so you can sing or play your own solo with it if you want.

Circle 3   and  Circle 3-NS

-Anne-Marie Hildebrandt

Day 2: 365 “Circle Songs”

So here we are on the second day and I’m already facing the question of what to do when I don’t like my circle song.  Do I keep trying until I get one I like, perhaps later in the day?  Do I post it anyway because hey, somebody else might like it and anyway is people liking these songs, even me, even what it’s about?  It’s actually an interesting predicament.  As a songwriter, composer, and arranger, I would never release something I didn’t like out into the world.  As an improviser, while I probably don’t like everything I play or sing, and can’t really sit around agonizing about whether or not to let anybody else hear it because, if I was in public, they already have.  And besides, after I played it, it’s gone, perhaps to be remembered but more likely not, a speck in the infinite ephemera of once-made sounds…

Unless it was recorded.  And that’s the tough part here.  I have to really embrace the idea of exposing my processes to anyone who stumbles across this blog.  Of course, while writing a song, I shuffle through tens of ideas which I then discard for one reason or another.  Imagine sitting in a room full of papers, sifting through them until you find one that speaks to you at that very moment.  Or reaching into a jar of jelly beans and pulling them out one by one until you find a good flavor.  And I’m realizing now that, unless I really want to spend hours a day on these little circles, I’m going to have to post some of those ideas I wouldn’t normal use.  (And they’ll be out there forever.)  In the process I’ll be learning, like I always am, and possibly with more awareness than usual.  For example, perhaps today’s song will raise the question- “Can I ever like a light, rhythmic 5/8 song in dorian where the harmonies alternate each measure between i and IV, with occasional forays into flat VI?”

Yes.  Blah blah blah is right.  Click on where it says Circle 2 below to take a listen!

-Anne-Marie Hildebrandt

Circle 2

Day 1: 365 “Circle Songs”

Hey!  Thanks for joining me in my crazy life for a moment.  I’ve suddenly decided to chain myself to the ubiquitous device so many have used before me of doing SOMETHING every day for a year.  For me, it’s going to be “Circle Songs.”  What?  Why??  Huh?  you might ask.  Let me explain.

So a few years ago I had the pleasure of joining Bobby McFerrin and 19 other awesome singers from around the world for a week-long workshop culminating in an a cappella improvised“opera.”labeled me and bobbyDuring the week, Bobby used us for something called “CircleSinging,” where one person gives any number of singers a part to sing, over and over again.  Perhaps one person sings a “solo,” not-as-repetitive part over it all once it’s been built.  It was fun, but as the week was a bit jazz-oriented, and I didn’t ever get to try it with “my kind of music,” I went straight home afterwards and tried it out on my favorite women’s choir, Citrine.  That was fun too (the song “Fire Chant” on our CD is inspired by one) but then I moved to NYC to go to school and kind of forgot about it… although I did try it out on my friend Kathleen Hayes’ student choirs at Fieldston to rave reviews.  Then last night I went to a vocal improv group for the first time and in the last five minutes we tried it again.  Although it may not have been the most creative thing we did all evening (except for the person-assigning-the-parts), it reminded me once again of circle songs and today I decided to record my own.  Then, the brilliant idea hit me while I was in the shower to commit to recording one a day for the next year, so here I am!

Each part is sung by me, hopefully with more than a few guests along the way, and everything is improvised on the spot.  No trying different things to see what’s “best,” no writing anything down.  Just whatever comes out first!

One thing you can be certain of- there will be out-of-tune notes, and clicks and pops, dogs barking, doors slamming,maybe even a little drilling.  (There is also an excellent chance I will record them while curled up or on my stomach on the bed.) labeled bedThe fact is I won’t have hours every day to tweak each recording, each track, so they’ll surely be a little raw!  This is about creativity, new ideas, and retaining my identity while I embark on a scary new chapter of my life; earning my PhD.  (More on that later.)

So here is my first one, sung for Ruth C., who encouraged me to go last night in the first place.  Just click on where it says “Circle 1” down below to listen.

-Anne-Marie Hildebrandt

Circle 1