Life According to Piano

The perfect song

I have this thing about perfect songs: sometimes I want to create my own arrangement of a perfect song, but it’s already perfect, so now what?

Silent NIght is a perfect song, and I had been hoping to include it on The Rebirth of Light, only…the carol is perfect as it is. What could I do that was unique to me but did not impose on the beauty of the original? One evening, alone at a friend’s house and playing her piano, the arrangement came to me in a sweet simple flow of sound. How? I have no idea. Why? Because I wanted it to, and I accepted each sound that came through my hands and kept going. (Does that sound like a “how” to you? It’s not. There was no “how” involved, because there really wasn’t any thinking involved. I love it when that happens!) (And also when I can remember what I played when that happens. That’s the best.)

I’m creating arrangements of spiritual songs now—hymns mostly, but not entirely. To me one of the perfect hymns is Old Hundredth, what most people know as the Doxology, even if they aren’t into hymns very much. I love everything about Old Hundredth: its melody and its harmonies and its words. It is so simple, and it holds a universe in that simplicity. It’s simply perfect.

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