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by Carol Elaine Loperena

man playing guitar by grand piano

Looking back over the years, I can see how blessed I have been to be able to learn about music from my mentors and teachers. With the process of writing songs, too, I have learned a lot about what notes might be used to result in a blend of thought, feeling and sound. Through all of this I have learned quite a bit about life's lessons, too. I know that sounds rather intriguing or even a bit farfetched, but in reality it couldn't be more true.

As I studied how songs were written I was told how a song often likes to resolve itself back to the root chord. Like an artist with a paintbrush and a palette of colors to pick from, one can choose to compose a song from many different musical keys. Each musical key has its own set of chord sounds, which can be arranged in any sequence imaginable. These choices provide a creative treasure chest of opportunities because the melody results from selecting an order of sounds that the chords provide. But the basic musical structure follows certain rules...some have to do with what listeners' ears love to expect; what makes the music sound finished, complete.

More Harmony

Sound and Silence Resolution

The #1 chord or the root is home base, the "home chord" in whatever key is chosen. In the key of C Major then, the C chord (#1) chord) is home. There is an existing relationship with the #4 chord, which is called F, and the #5 chord which is G. There are many other chord choices, but the #1-#4-#5 sequence is the foundation. What happens in between is where the real fun begins! But regardless of how the song goes at the beginning and the middle, when all is said and done listeners most often like to hear the song end on the home chord. When the chord progression of the song ends as our ear loves to expect, it's called "resolution." If there is no resolution, we're left hanging... something is wrong; we want to hear that conclusion!

As one of my teachers would say, a simple definition of "music" is "organized sound and silence." That doesn't seem very difficult but in order to create worthwhile music at any level, a composer will choose from all of the keys and rhythms and fit it all together in a pleasing relationship that is called "harmony."

Life Harmony Choices

I think of life like a relationship of harmony, too. We have a lot of choices about which notes we will put on the page. We start with our own melody, but as we add a husband or wife, children, relatives and friends, we try to come up with notes for our song that will sound good together. That doesn't happen by accident either. We have to choose carefully, all the time keeping in mind that we want God to be our director. We want our life to make a joyful noise to the Lord, and in so doing we must make a resolution to put God first. Resolving to look at God's Word more often keeps us from ending up with notes all over the page which create a chaotic and meaningless song. Choosing friends carefully is another thing we can resolve to do, so that we don't get pulled off in all different directions. And as our children grow up and move away we will rewrite the harmony of our song as they start to write the music of their own life.

Verses and Refrains Your Song

The wondrous miracle of a song. I am ever amazed at how beautiful notes can be when they are carefully chosen and blended with seemingly endless combinations. But just one wrong note in the wrong place, and the whole song sounds off. No wonder things seem to 'end on a sour note' at times. Does that mean we scrap the whole song? Not at all! With each New Year's arrival, we have a chance to write a completely new verse in the song of our lives. We have a blank sheet of music paper, and we can decide to write on it whatever we choose. Some of us may need to continue our song with a completely new verse on a brand new page, and some of us may just need to tweak the song a bit in order to get things to blend in a bit better. We may need to keep the verse but change the refrain. But whatever we do it will take as much time as we have. Resolutions are important, but are not just a once-a-year thing. They certainly must be followed by our actions and then covered with God's guidance and love. As we write our songs this year we may all do well to heed the words of Charles Schoonmaker and his explanation of how to determine the key of a song: "Just remember, where you wind up is probably where you've actually been all along."*