New Short Film using Music by Sharon West!

 

Hi Everyone! Just wanted to share with you a new short film created by Jim Kuchler and he used my music for the soundtrack! In case you are interested in which songs and CDs they are from, here they are in order of how they play in the film:

 

1) Voice in the Wind - Canvas of my Soul CD;

2) Sunset at the Lake - Notes from the Woods CD;

3) Mystical Forest - Dances in the Mist CD;

4) Dancing Fountains - Dances in the Mist CD;

5) Garden of Unspoken Words - World Journey CD.

Hope you enjoy the film!

Thanks to Jim Kuchler for this opportunity and we'll hopefully collaborate on future film projects:)

Spring Shows Signs of Arriving!

Well, finally spring is starting to arrive here in Chicago this year!  The birds are really starting to sing their songs and the grass is starting to get a green tint to it, so we have hopefully really turned the corner towards warmer weather.

As the days get longer, somehow the day seems to slow down and a gentle mist of life emerging seems to lift our spirits.  I have been busy watching the cardinals, robins and squirrels get about their business of coming to life and preparing for the next round of life to begin. 

In this spirit of rebirth and new life, I wish all my Christian friends a glorious and beautiful Easter weekend.

He has Risen,

Sharon

Summer of Fomenting

I am writing this blog today as it is my Mom's birthday and I am thinking of her, although she has been gone for nearly 25 years now....I have been writing and working on “my music” for a number of years now, and many people know that I left the corporate world a number of years ago to spend time writing music full-time…and so I have been, and produced a number of CDs and worked with many wonderful songwriters, musicians and composers in the interim, and attended many great songwriting workshops in the blissful mountains of British Columbia, and learned so much….so much about life, other people, their lives and dreams.

 

So it took some people aback when I started teaching college night courses a couple of years ago in Quality and Operations Management, a harkening back to my formative years as an engineer and “process person” as I came to be known in the corporate world.  And then a couple of years ago one of my old bosses (who has turned out to be a true angel in my life on a number of occasions) called me up out of the blue and asked me if I was interested in some consulting work, as she was working at a new place and had some work for a good “process person.” 

 

This all came about at a time when I have come to realize what my art is, and isn’t, all about…I don’t know if I’ll ever make any “real” money from my music, and that’s just fine with me.  I write and compose music because it’s something that helps me understand the world, express my own emotions and thoughts, and hopefully share that with some other folks with whom it connects.  I also went to a concert at the Chicago Symphony earlier this year, a series called Beyond the Score, and I learned about one of my favorite American composers, Charles Ives.  And as great of a composer as he was, composing was more or less a hobby for him, as he was an Insurance executive for his actual “career.” 

 

So I’ve been consulting more recently, and really enjoying both the adventure and intellectual stimulation it brings, as well as seeing how and where it fits into my larger life.  Other big changes have also happened in my life in the past year…..I bought a weekend home on a lake in Wisconsin, and everyone wonders why I did that (John Lennon’s “people asking questions” lyrics spring to mind).  And so I continue the consulting work and teaching, as I have this beautiful place I need to earn some money for….and that’s where the tradeoffs of life begin…..

 

I bought it because it’s outrageously beautiful on this little lake, and I also wanted a place to retreat to and hear the magical music this place has to offer, let alone the tranquility and the sheer blissful nature experience of the birds, trees and wildlife all around.  It rejuvenates my soul, and I am learning about the glaciers that formed this wondrous beauty all around, about the fire at Peshtigo the same day as the great Chicago Fire, but went unnoticed…and I am fomenting in my soul…and the consulting work and teaching and the nature and the lake and the music composing in my head all blend in to one…so I will start to write that music soon…and hopefully find the music that quietly says “yes, that’s exactly right, isn’t it?”

The Creative Process

Well, I've never done a Blog before, but I figured this might be a good way to talk more about my music, and where it comes from, what influences me, and talk some about the creative process that I use....I do get a lot of questions from people about how I come up with the songs, how I come up with the names of them, how do you write - on paper, at the piano or on the computer, etc....so I guess I'll start there.

 

The creative process I use:  many times I'll just be going about my day and doing various daily activities like cleaning or working on something, and I'll kind of just hear a melody pop into my head...now, for me, it's usually just something about 2 - 4 bars long, but I can hear that it's a start of a song.  As quickly as possible I'll either head to my piano and start to jot it down, or else pick up my iPhone and just sing it in to the Recording section.  The one thing I have found is that if I don't get the melody down somewhere in about 5 - 10 minutes, it will soon just vanish from my memory (usually).  Other songs I hear in my head and I can't get rid of them for a long time...maybe that is something more, but inevitably, the Muse wants me to start working it, seeing where it will go, what it's all about...so then I HAVE to start working on it, or it won't leave me alone until I give the Muse some precious time and focus:)

 

I'm not sure if other composers, songwriters, literary writers, visual artists, or any other folks creating something new have a similar process but it does seem to be somewhat the same for a lot of people.  The other things that really inspire me to write music are taking walks in nature (hence, the Notes from the Woods and Nature Dream CDs), looking at artwork (especially in art galleries), watching a really good movie or sometimes just sitting down at the piano and starting to noodle around.

 

As far as coming up with titles for the songs....sometimes I am just trying to describe a scene or setting for where I am in my mind's eye when writing the piece, and other times there are some hidden meanings in the titles that only I know about (it's fine to be a little mysterious, lol!).  Other times they come to me when I'm reading something (like the title from my last song on my latest CD Nature Dream - So the Snow-Flowers Go Home).  That title comes from an unpublished Journal from the famous naturalist John Muir that had just really struck me after recently losing my youngest brother, Ben, to a long illness, so here's that quote:

 

"The rugged old Norsemen spoke of death as Heimgang-"home-going." So the snow-flowers go home when they melt and flow to the sea, and the rock-ferns, after unrolling their fronds to the light and beautifying the rocks, roll them up close again in the autumn and blend with the soil. Myriads of rejoicing living creatures, daily, hourly, perhaps every moment sink into death’s arms, dust to dust, spirit to spirit-waited on, watched over, noticed only by their Maker, each arriving at its own Heaven-dealt destiny. All the merry dwellers of the trees and streams, and the myriad swarms of the air, called into life by the sunbeam of a summer morning, go home through death, wings folded perhaps in the last red rays of sunset of the day they were first tried. Trees towering in the sky, braving storms of centuries, flowers turning faces to the light for a single day or hour, having enjoyed their share of life’s feast-all alike pass on and away under the law of death and love. Yet all are our brothers and they enjoy life as we do, share Heaven’s blessings with us, die and are buried in hallowed ground, come with us out of eternity and return into eternity. "Our lives are rounded with a sleep."

- John of the Mountains: The Unpublished Journals of John Muir, (1938), p. 339-340

 

 

So yes, life, art and music intertwine in my mind, and maybe that's what Art is all about....until next month, think spring:)

 

Sharon

 

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