Scattershot Symphony Transcript
No Vocals, No Lyrics, Just Music
The Music of Peter Link
People ask me, “Why “Symphony? You’re not a classical composer.” Well, Wikipedia defines “Symphony” as: an extended musical composition most often written by composers for orchestra – often presented in several movements.
And so, I bring you the music of a lifetime of composition – often presented in several movements. That’s the nature of these podcasts – a scattershot look at a lifetime of music …
So, strap on them headphones.
We’re 90% music with just a smattering of commentary.
So for god sakes,
Turn it up!
This week being the sixteenth episode of this podcast, I prefer to let the music do the talkin’. However, if you need to know more about me, please visit Wikipedia.com – Peter Link.
This episode is entitled
“No Vocals, No Lyrics, Just Music”
An Exploration of Instrumental Music From Various Albums
Basically, I’ve always considered myself, first and foremost, a songwriter. However, being known as a composer, brings many divergent opportunities that are simply far too fascinating to pass up.
As a Broadway composer, I was known more for my scoring. My two Tony Award nominations came from work done on plays with music rather than musicals. I did a lot of early work scoring Television Movies of the Week, I wrote ballets for the Joffrey Ballet, and I worked often in Children’s Television for programs like Sesame Street and Big Blue Marble, again creating scores, often interlaced with songs, but primarily focused on scoring. These works were my ‘on the job‘ early education … and they certainly paid the rent.
Never a “schooled” musician, I always learned my music theory through creating and performing it rather than in the clsssroom. That had its drawbacks, but it always had its advantages as well. I was never trapped by theory as to what I could do and what might not be proper, but on the other hand, I often got myself into situations where I was in over my head because of a lack of theory. Suffice it to say that a better understanding of music theory in my life would have made me a better musician early in life. Theory is important and necessary, but never as important as inspiration.
Why am I telling you all this? I guess it’s sort of a confession. I’m old enough that I don’t have to hide my lack of “schooled” training anymore. My on the job training carried me pretty well over the years.
Let’s just summarize all this, this way: I never took an orchestration class or studied orchestration with a private teacher. I listened to the music of my imagination once I understood the story to be told, broke it down in my head to its relative parts and then sang to myself those parts as I recorded them. I am what’s called a “head arranger.” I orchestrate the music in my head.
On this episode we’ll listen to instrumentals written and produced primarily for albums.
As a lyricist, I am a storyteller. If you are a follower of this podcast, then you will already know that, as an artist, I am definitely a storyteller. For me, everything I create has to have some form of a story attached.
So, as a composer of instrumental music, there will always be a story told, whether you follow it or not. I do not equate story and plot. To me, a story is a through action that drives one through the particular composition. Some might call it an arc; others might call it “a through line.”
So the music you are about to hear always tells a story. If my particular story is not obvious to you, since there are no words to clarify, please feel free to make up one of your own.
Come with me now into the concert hall of my mind. There you will get to know me best. For there lies the best of who I am.
For my first offering …
Theme and Variations on a Hymn Tune by H. Walford Davies
I walked into my studio one day and as I walked past the piano, my right hand simply fell on to the keys and played a chord of total chance. I walked on and as the chord resonated in my consciousness, I was forced to turn around, go back and play it again. I had no idea what the chord was or what notes it contained. Trying to remember where I had dropped my hand, I tried again. But I miss remembered and played, instead, another chord, but with the same shape of my hand. The two chords now resonating back to back forced me to drop my coat and bag on the floor as I sat down at the piano and began to explore these two capricious chords back to back.
Hours later, as coat and bag still sat at my feet, I had the shape, the sonority (somewhat Asian in color and tone) and the mood seemed fully formed. It had to do with the sea, somehow. It soared. Somewhere, within those two chords lived Japan. I’m sorry. I cannot be more specific than that. I googled, “What is the word for ‘seagull’ in Japanese?” What came back was “Anadori.”
The word fit the music. Like hand in glove. Anadori. And so …
Come soar with me.
Elton John once said that he learned his particular piano technique playing hymns for his minister father’s church services. The essence of hymn tunes became the basis for one of the great Pop/Rock songwriters and performers of our time. The same principle is true for me as well. I grew up with those hymn songs sung every Sunday in Sunday School. They were foundational.
One of my favorite session guitarists that I always trusted and therefore hired to play my own music, is Bobby Stanton, now after years on the road as a sideman with everybody from James Taylor to Bo Diddley, and the rest too numerous to mention, Bobby now teaches guitar at Berklee College of Music in Boston.
I produced and orchestrated an album for Bobby called Shepherd — hymn tunes produced for guitar, and orchestrated to support this newer fresh approach to these classic melodies.
One particular song from that album stands out.
Ebenezer, also known as Ton-y-Botel (Tune in a Bottle) is a famous Welsh hymn tune composed by Thomas John Williams who lived from (1869–1944) First published in 1897, the famed English composer and music historian, Ralph Vaughan Williams, referred to it as one of the greatest hymn tunes of all time. Ebenezer, by the way, means “Stone of Help” in the Bible. (Just in case you were wondering.)
The myth that the tune was discovered in a bottle on a beach in North Wales was published in the Daily Mail in 1902. It has affectionately been known as Ton-y-Botel ever since and is even referred to sometimes, as “Ebenezer.”
I bring you this information because the melody is truly from another world and so clearly original.
The album, Deep Waters, performed by Julia Wade, is a Suite for Orchestra and Voice. Its intention is to explore the journey from confusion to clarity that we all face daily in our time here on Planet Earth – the journey from deep waters to the fresh breath and breeze of smooth sailing. As a child I played the game of ‘how long could I sit on the bottom of the lake holding my breath.’ Finally giving into the need for new breath, I would pull my way to the top, surface, and dizzily drink in the wondrous air. The image has stayed with me all these years. It seemed a starting point and metaphor for this musical work.”
Deep Waters consists of 3 songs performed by Julia, and three instrumentals tieing the songs together and bridging the journey from song to song. Since we promised “No Vocals and No Lyrics”, for the first time ever we shall omit the songs and bring you the 3 instrumentals back to back in three movements.
- Deep Waters
- The Wish
For those who might want to take a deep dive into Deep Waters … there is a beautiful FREE 24 page Digital Liner Notes book that would absolutely knock your socks off available to you. For this treasure chest of information, please go to watchfiremusic.com/podcast and then click on Episode 16 to download the free digital book.
So, get out your waterwings and take a deep breath.
Deep Waters Suite
For centuries, composers have been using folk and ancient melodies as a starting point for their work. This is the concept for our next offering — state the theme and then develop it with my own particular individuality and creativity. Ode To Joy is just that — an exploration of the many types of joy I experience in life.
This final construct is not from an album of songs, rather, a mostly instrumental series of impressions on the theme of joy. With each movement, I started with a loved melody from my life. (not my own) I would state it and then let the muse take it from there. Sometimes I even dropped the original theme after it had given me a start.
I mixed the musical styles of my life joyfully, not caring who I might offend, but just going with what I heard, drawing from the diverse musical styles of the latter part of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st. My intention in the beginning was to create a purely instrumental album. Uuhhh … That’s not the way it worked out. Along the way I kept finding things I wanted to say, and so I said them, or sang them, or had my friends sing them. So, OK, I lied. At the end of this last selection, people will start to sing. Beware. Be ready! I can’t imagine you would regret it.
The experience of making this CD was one of the best of my life. I am ever grateful for the technological tools at my disposal – my computer and its constantly expanding software. I am also ever grateful for the flip side, my talent, my connection with my Source of creativity, with the God given light of joy in my life. It is this light, this joy, that I write about, in all its ramifications. It is MY Ode To Joy. And so …
With great respect to Ludwig Van Beethoven
and my deepest apologies.
Ode To Joy and Ode To Joy Finale
Ode to Joy Finale
New Music and Lyrics by Peter Link
O life that maketh all things new
The blooming earth
The thoughts of men
Our pilgrim feet
Wet with thy dew
In gladness hither turn again
From hand to hand the greeting flows
From eye to eye
The signals run
From heart to heart
The bright hope glows
The seekers of the light are one
One in the freedom of the truth
One in the joy
Of paths untrod
One in the heart’s
One in the larger thought of God
The freer step the fuller breath
The wide horizon’s
The sense of life
That knows no death
The Life that maketh all things new
Father we thy loving children
Lift our hearts in joy today
Knowing well that Thou wilt keep us
Ever in Thy blessed way
Thou art love and Thou art wisdom
Thou art life and Thou art all
In Thy spirit living moving
We shall neither faint nor fall
In Thy house securely dwelling
Where Thy children live to bless
Seeing only Thy creation
We can share Thy happiness
Share Thy joy and spend it freely
Loyal hearts can feel no fear
We Thy children know thee Father
Love and life forever near
So there you have it.
Scattershot Symphony Episode 16. Next, Episode 17: So Ya‘ Like Pop Songs … Well, who doesn’t? That’s why they’re called Pop songs. They’re popular. An’ we got lots of ‘em. You asked, so we comply. Comin’ your way — Episode 17.
Also, please rate and review us on Apple Podcasts … etc.
A grateful nod goes to Carol Jay for arrangement inspiration on Ode To Joy, Asta Ferrell, Age 5, for her sweet voiceover on Ode To Joy, and, of course, Mr. Van Beethoven, for his wondrous music. I hope I have not disturbed your peace, wherever you may be. Also, to Julia Wade, Margaret Dorn, Darryl Tookes, Kevin Osborne and La Tanya Hall for their choir work on Ode To Joy Finale.
Thank you, to all!
A very special thanks also to Stuart Barefoot, our Associate Producer for all your invaluable knowledge and good vibes.
And a posthumous thanks to Ludwig Van Beethoven for your opening 4 bars.
This podcast is presented with loving care by the staff at Watchfire Music. If you liked what you heard, we got lots more where that came from. In the meantime, you can find the songs you just heard on watchfiremusic.com. There you can purchase the singles or albums and have access to all the lyrics. Also, there you will find all previous podcasts and future scheduling.
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tell your friends and Stay tuned!