Confession Time: (Pun Somewhat Intended)
I started this journey with a very specific plan in mind: Start a personal website and grow a consistent and study audience — all within about 3-4 months. I have been taking this class that teaches about the publication of self and discusses how we present ourselves online. I was certain that by the end of this time frame, I would be this incredibly articulate and confident online voice who would be well on her way to being an influential voice within the realm of music and songwriting bloggers. Did I think I was creating the next Billboard or Pitchfork? Pfft, no; but I thought for certain I would know exactly what to do to get me there and that I would be able to see results quickly.
Spoilers: I’m not.
In many ways, my online journey has been very similar to that of my musical journey. Finding my voice has been the biggest part and the most challenging part of this journey.
Allow me to explain.
Finding My Voice
Whether we know it or not, we all have a distinctive voice. There are different things that make our voice distinct and unique. In musical terms, these characteristics all together are referred to as the timbre (pronounced ˈtambər or tam-her) of the voice or sounds (Anderson 2014). Timbre is what makes sounds remain distinct from each other and help the ear to determine what is being heard (Frykberg, 2015). The quality of the voice or sound is shaped by the timbre and is usually what is described when describing sounds (Frykberg, 2015). Over the last few years, I have been growing in an understanding of what the timbre of my singing voice is. I have a naturally raspier tone and a lower range for a woman as I can sing very low quite comfortably. Now I’ve learned how to be intentional about utilizing these aspects of my voice but regardless of what I sing or how I sing, those aspects will all be there.
The same goes for my online voice. A large part of this time has been dedicated to discovering the Timbre of My Online Voice. This is made up of the various aspects of me and my personality that help to inform and shape what my voice is. They make my online voice distinct from the voice of other online personas and influencers of culture. Now I am not yet a major voice and influencer of culture, but I am well on my way thanks to my better understanding of what my voice is.
The Timbre of My Online Voice
What is the timbre of my online voice? Well, I am an African-American young woman living in Canada. This enables me to speak to issues of ethnicity and identity through the lens of music as demonstrated by my posts on the John Legend and Common performance at the Oscars and Kanye West’s Grammy comments. I am a young songwriter who is working on developing the craft of songwriting. This gives me a unique perspective on song writing and the creative process which becomes evident in my posts that I wrote for my tracking assignments and my S.A.C. Songwriting & Blogging Challenge posts. I enjoy exploring a much more complex side of the world and my thoughts and I prefer reading and writing over visual images. This explains why so many of my posts are so focused on the written content and they do not always have an accompanying image.
Yet the timbre of my voice is not strictly shaped by more serious things. I am a huge Doctor Who fan and that popped up in various ways in my content, most distinctively in one of my earlier posts, The Forgotten Crowd. I love jazz fusion music and Robert Glasper and he more than certainly popped up a few times on this blog. I also love YouTube and online content creation and that informs my content. I love a good laugh and a funny picture every now and then and sometimes those pop up, largely in the form of Scowling Puppy.
(Here’s the picture for reference. I had to. So much disappointment in such a cute and adorable package.)
All of these combine together to be the Timbre of My Online Voice. I can emphasize some and down play others. As I come to understand the distinct aspects of my own voice, it makes enables me to be intentional and purposeful with the way I craft content.
Voice ≠ Authority
I now realize that while I thought I was looking to be a voice within the music blogger community, I was not actually looking for a voice but authority. Authority is what makes people want to listen to you (Olsen, 2015). This can only be done well when you create a product that you believe in and one that is interesting (Olsen, 2015). Establishing authority can only come when you have established your voice. Your voice comes from how you write, authority comes from what you write. Both are necessary in order to be an effective online presence and both are developed over time. As I continue to work on these to components, the audience will come. I just have to be ready for what that means for me and my work.
The Deceptive Imperfect Cadence for Confessions of a Songwriter
I have a hard time with endings. They’re awkward, uncomfortable and they cannot happen on their own. You have to make them happen. There are different types of endings and some are more effective than others. The term cadence is a musical term for endings. Cadences are the two chord progression that happens at the end of the musical phrase (Danielson, 2014). They provide a finish and a resolve to the phrase and ultimately to the piece. While the listener may not know the type of cadence used at the end of a phrase, they are quite recognizable to the ear. The most recognizable ones are those that end on the I chord. The I chord is the chord represents home. It comes with a sense of comfort and familiarity, reminding the listener that the song is finished. Think of Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.
Twinkle Twinkle Little Star,
How I wonder what you are.
Up above the world so high
Like a diamond in the sky.
Twinkle Twinkle Little Star
How I wonder what you are.
The word ‘are’ ends on the one chord. Think about how it feels. It feels finished and complete — as though there is nothing else that needs to be said. If the song were to end on the word ‘star’ instead of ‘are’, it would feel unresolved, begging to be finished and made complete. The tension would be driving the song to finish. Why? It comes from the fact that the note for ‘star’ is a four note that needs the I to feel finished. These cadences are called deceptive and imperfect cadences. Within us we know we’re supposed to end on the note that is sung for ‘are’. Yet the thing about the cadences that end with tension is that they can still go somewhere. There is a finish for that phrase, but it is not the end all be all. There is still opportunity for the song to go somewhere else; either to the same places that it has gone or to new places that have yet to be explored.
How is this relevant? Well, the same goes for Confessions of a Songwriter. I have currently finished the class that was the genesis of this blog, yet the song is not over. This piece is my Deceptive and Imperfect Cadence. I am finished for this phrase but I am not yet done. So please stay with me. We may go back to some of the things that I have written about so far or we may go to completely new places. Time will only tell where this song will go. It only gets better from here.
Peace & Harmonies
Anderson, Chris. “History/Harmonis/Timbre/Filters/EQ/Resonance.” Simon Fraser University. Burnaby Campus, Burnaby, BC. 25 September 2014. Lecture.
Danielson, Janet “7ths and Non-Harmonic Tones; Harmonizing; & Musical Structure.” Simon Fraser University. Burnaby Campus, Burnaby, BC. 25 March 2014. Lecture.
Frykberg, Susan. “Introduction to the Soundscape: Acoustics Pt. 1.” Simon Fraser University. Online Class. 2014. Lecture Notes.
Olsen, Dave. “Authority Online.” Simon Fraser University. Harbour Centre. Vancouver, BC. 17 March 2015. Lecture.