Creative people are often introverts, so self-isolating was not that much of a change for many, including myself. I often tell people, it’s not that I want to be alone at times, it’s that it doesn’t bother me.
Isolation creates the time and space for musicians and writers to do what they do best, create.
Events, positive or negative, are the inspiration for works of art, be it music, writing, or painting. The COVID-19 crisis of 2020 has had so many effects on so many aspects of our lives. Aside from the obvious tragic consequences, loss of life/jobs/income, the world will never be the same as the “New Normal” becomes normal. Musicians and writers have been motivated to create works of art inspired by the crisis. Most of my blog topics were COVID-19 related, and my poems also reflected how I viewed the world during this time.
I had written (not published) some post-apocalyptic short stories a year ago, and I noticed that books were coming out about plagues, pandemics, and general end of the world stories. Movies like “Contagion” shot to the top of download categories. Reading what I had written, it seemed a bit eerie, almost like a premonition. Here’s a poem from a series I call “Found”:
Found scrawled on a cave wall
I live in this cave
Deep and deserted
Though I feel I don’t deserve it
Disguised and protected
From invading marauders
And soulless infected
Doctors offered resistance
Gaia fought back with insistence
To rid herself
From human existence
I am proof we weren’t weeded
But what kind of life remains
In a world we aren’t needed
News stories about the environment have been one of the influences. Smog levels in major cities were falling, you could see the summit of Mt. Everest for the first time in many years, wildlife began to take back parks, trails, and harbors, and bees were enjoying all the wildflowers that normally would be mowed. It got me thinking about the positive effects of the lock down measures.
I listen to a lot of music. Usually, it is CBC Radio 2, Canadian Public radio (akin to PBS in the United States). They started to feature a series of collaborations by musicians, who recorded music with each other remotely. From covers to arrangements of their songs, this was something that would have been very difficult to do even twenty years ago. CBC called the series #quarantunes, and it was a way for musicians to keep in touch with their band mates and fans.
Most of my compositions are for solo classical guitar, but I have always had a fondness for country/bluegrass music. As I sat with my guitar, I began to craft a lively tune based on a short melody that I found written in my notebook. As I played, the musical line evolved. Most traditional fiddle tunes consist of two sections, one in a major key (happy-sounding), and the other in a minor key (usually sadder sounding). Much like poetry, the pattern can be described as AABBA.
Two lighter sections gave way to two minor parts, so it is a bit longer than many traditional pieces. After setting up my rudimentary budget recording studio, I recorded the chord progression (in one take), then the melody (in a lot more takes). Did I mention that I’m more of a composer than a player?
Now, what to call it…
Then it hit me…The Quarantine Reel! No, wait…The Lockdown Hoedown! Oh, they’re both excellent, I can’t choose. Hmmm, why choose? So, I present to you, The Lockdown Hoedown (Quarantine Reel).
Writers will always write, composers will compose, and creators will create. That is a given. It’s what gets written about that changes. From pandemics to demonstrations, I think that 2020 has given us all a lot to write about. And It’s not over yet.