"Practice" is a song that I intend to incorporate into the set. This was a song I wrote recently that was originally just about the difficulty of loving someone. Now, I am reshaping its form to comment on some of the structural aspects of my postulated model of transnational kinship.
The song is about when you find it hard to love someone, and the difficulty is not about "whether" you love them, but about "how" to love them. One feel on a fundamental level that they love another, but so much of the barrier to achieving a lasting connection is the circumstances, the impracticalities, incompatible orientations and situations. The song asks, how does one go about loving when the circumstances, the practicality, the "how to" considerations get in the way?
The song has a very sparse texture, which leaves ample room for field recordings I gather to played in conjunction with the music. The song begins with a simple procession of chords, and the first vocal moment is just the word "sometimes." This word is repeated three times with slight melodic adjustments. In the next cycle of the melody, this word is extended into a full sentence: "Sometimes it's not easy to love." The words are coming together slowly. The next lyric has more words in the same amount of melodic space. This accumulation of words mimics the tentative, uncertain quality of a person gathering their thoughts. As the song continues, the sentences become clearer and more specific. The tempo increases, and (not in this sketch, but in a future iteration) the harmony becomes more dense and the volume increases.
This accumulation of disparate elements aims to create a sense of coalescence, of gradual building, like a crowd gathering together. A quickening occurs, both in terms of the speed and the stimulation of something coming into being.
The climax of the song comes at the most poignant of the lyrics -- "How do put this theory into practice?" -- at the creation of the meaning. This creation of meaning is the culmination of the metaphorical gathering of the musical elements. After this, the elements separate and dissipate again. This coalescence and dispersal, models the fluid way in which communities form, around some central creation of meaning, and then disappear.
The song suggests that love is just a theory, and it can only be realised through concrete decisions and actions. In transnational contexts, loving can be particularly difficult because of the practical considerations. The physical distance, the asynchronicity of time, the difference in cultural environments can create barriers in these relationships.
The "you" that the song refers to is ambiguous, and as such the "love" described in the song could be interpreted as various kinds of love. It could describe romantic love with a long-distance partner, or familial love with a relative, or xenophilic love for a stranger. The simplicity and open-ended nature of the lyrics results in a multivalent meaning, inviting any interpretation from the audience and allowing them to choose whichever resonates most with their experience.
Nevertheless, a risk with this song is that the audience may default to construing it as a love song, with its meaning directed towards a specific kind of person and a specific kind of love. In order to take the song past this surface level meaning, I will use a simple performance element to make clear that the song is not directed at one character in my personal life. When I perform the first stanza, I will look at a different audience member each time I utter a lyric. This will first occur every four bars (or 8 chord repetitions) each time I utter the word "sometimes". As the song, develops, the frequency with which I look at different individuals increases. This will draw a connection between the "individual" and each sung word, to animate the metaphor described above, of the song's elements mirroring a gathering of a crowd. At the culmination of the song, beginning with the lyric "how do we put this theory into practice?", I will scan the audience as a whole, visually gesturing toward the collective as I sing the core question of the song, one that can be interpreted within the framework of pluralist ideology. In other words, asking the audience, the larger human collective, how do we learn to love each other as groups of people? As communities? As nations?
Sometimes, sometimes, sometimes, sometimes,
Sometimes it's not easy to love.
Sometimes it's not easy, not easy, to love, to love you.
It's not a matter of whether or not I love you, now,
It's more a question of howâ¦toâ¦doâ¦thisâ¦
How do we put this theory into practice?
How do we turn this feeling into action?
Shouldn't loving someone be somewhat simpler than this?
Loving someone is easier said than done.
Sometimes it's not, not easy to love, and I don't know why, but
I'll try, if you try, and if I try, will you try?
The song is saying it's hard to love "you," it is hard to love the other, despite espoused ideologies around loving "humanity" or loving people from other cultures, this feeling is not real until its actualised through concrete actions. The song throws into relief the difficulty and the mystery of how that process works, and how that process can only be approached a mutual agreement to "try. "
I previously posted this song in the background of video clips sent to me by my friends (see embedded video below). This may be useful just as an example of how field recordings could sound when incorporated into the song.