Sadness - Music to Grieve to

Sadness - Music to Grieve to

Have you ever had your family break apart?

I have.

There are a hundred different feelings you go through, none of them good, but the emotion that lingers long after everything else has faded, is sadness.

Sadness for what happened, sadness for how it was handled, sadness for the lives that were changed and sadness for the loss of relationships that I still hold dear.

Major Minor / Happy Sad

This piece was a full and intentional look into how that sadness made me feel.

There’s this false happy opening - a simple descending melody that sets up the expectation of a sweet little melody and yet, within a minute, it’s fallen into a minor key.  Pretty much all the way through the track you never quite know if you’re major or minor, happy or sad.

I think when you’re dealing with grief, you have to accept that your emotions are going to do their own thing - some days they’re great, others not so much and there’s little warning as to what you’re going to get.

Sadness to me is soft - it’s passive - it doesn’t have the energy of anger or frustration - it’s quiet and delicate - the knife slips under your breastbone rather than bashes through it.

Optimist

Of course - I’m a hopeless optimist.

I can’t change the past but I can look forward to the future.  I don’t know how things will get better, I just believe that they will.

The track mirrors that optimism - after 7 minutes or so there’s a subtle shift, the energy is still low, the keys still change, but there’s a quiet hope, a more grounded representation of the theme.  And while the ending could have lapsed back into melancholy, it finishes on a hopeful ascent up the keyboard.

Wishful thinking?

Maybe, but life’s too short to feel sad the whole time.

Find Us On Spotify

We're going to be focusing a lot on Spotify over the coming year - it is by far the biggest revenue source for Musicto and music2work2 and the best way for you to support us is to listen to and share our playlists.

We will be developing the Music to Grieve to playlist by adding new tracks so make sure you choose to follow.

 

Aside from following Musicto and music2work2 on Spotify you can of course sign up for the email list.  We only ever contact you when we have new music available.

Acceptance - Music to Grieve to

Acceptance - Music to Grieve to

I’ve been writing music since I can remember.  My first memories are not of scales and baby Mozart, they’re of the piano in Singapore where Angels and Demons lived at opposite ends of the keyboard and played battles through my fingers.

I was three when I met my first piano teacher, eight when I wrote my first song, thirteen when I played my first rock show and sixteen when I wrote my first Hymn.  Yes – this track was the Hymn.

Written for a school music competition the task was to take the the Hymn “These Things Shall Be!” from the poem “A Vista” by John Addington Symonds 1840 – 1893 and create new music.

I think I came second!

My Father

The reason this track makes it onto the album is that my Father fell in love with it.   Out of all the things I had done it was this track that resonated with him and he asked for it to be played at his funeral.

When the time came – I couldn’t.  The piece wasn’t finished and it would have felt – just odd – weird and ultimately - wrong.

This version is solo piano – which is what he was familiar with – but I hear this with full orchestra and a bloody great church organ delivering a final crescendo - I think he would've dug that.

Acceptance & The Five Stages

This track was always going to be the last one on the album - and when I was still working with the idea of a track for each stage of the Kubler_Ross model, it was fitting that this was going to be called acceptance.

There is a hopefulness to the track - particularly in the coda where it’s all about imperfect and perfect cadences all resolving positively around the G major root.  The reality of grief is that life does go on, and while the grief may never fully subside, it does fade and we do get to feel good again.

Acceptance is about reaching the point where it’s OK to feel good again.  The final notes of the album are the opposite of the beginning, they are still the major triads but this time they are major and instead of descending, they are uplifting, ascending the keyboard to finish on a high, hopeful note.

FIND US ON SPOTIFY

We're going to be focusing a lot on Spotify over the coming year - it is by far the biggest revenue source for Musicto and music2work2 and the best way for you to support us is to listen to and share our playlists.

We will be developing the Music to Grieve to playlist by adding new tracks so make sure you choose to follow.

Aside from following Musicto and music2work2 on Spotify you can of course sign up for the email list.  We only ever contact you when we have new music available.

Loss - Music to Grieve to

Loss - Music to Grieve to

I stopped playing after my father died.

It didn’t feel right.

While I was eventually able to transmute grief into music, those first few months - I had nothing.  

The word most prevalent in my journals at the time was “discombobulated” - and I was.  Weird, confused, unsure, unsteady - yes the world continued - jobs, families, lives - but everything seemed under a blanket - kinda like those allergy commercials where there’s a fog over the screen.

But there’s no pill for grief.  

There’s just time.  

It took me 3 months to play again and this was the first theme that came out.

Sad Music

This was written long before the idea of Music to Grieve to came about and the subsequent insight into how sad music can make you feel better.  It was written with my Dad firmly in the forefront of my mind.

I was thinking about his love of music - of his insatiable curiosity into how and where the music came from.  His library covered the lives of the great composers and dived deep into the (often times to me,) impenetrable world of Opera.  And while he appreciated all kinds of music and could dance to ELO or Alesha Dixon as well as anyone, it was Beethoven that remained his first love.

I remember the story of him as a medical student, volunteering on the ambulances in Edinburgh, riding down Princes Street singing snatches of the Eroica, whistling the opening themes of the Pastoral and yes - belting out the final movement of the great 9th Symphony.

They are joyous memories.

But this isn’t a joyous track.

This is a sad track.

It takes the uplifting triad of the Moonlight Sonata and flips it around, it takes the simple time signature and complicates and confuses it.

It’s descending, it’s in a minor key, it’s soft and delicate and it tears my heart out.

The end of the track, well - that’s wishful thinking.

The idea that I can take this melancholic feeling and turn into something hopeful - it almost works.  The last quarter of the track is indeed in a major key and while the piece is striving to finish hopefully - the final resolution at the end - the final notes of the track - resolve into a descending walk towards the bottom of the keyboard - and that's where they leave you - feeling down...

The Bench

Chris McCluskey, In Memoriam - The Bench - 6th Hole - Milnathort Golf Club, Scotland

This is Scotland. This is my Father’s bench.  My Mother had a local artisan create it from the managed forests and here it sits - looking down the 6th hole of Milnathort Golf Club - right where he was hit by a golf ball in 2014 and indeed where he had his fatal heart attack in March 2016.

“The Bench” had been the working title of the track but I knew that it wouldn’t make sense to people outside our family.  I was struggling to get the track names to fit neatly into the Kubler-Ross model and had initially thought this could fit “Denial” but once again it didn’t ring true.  When I finally abandoned the idea and thought what this track represented - what it meant to me - where it came from and how it was manifest - it was clear that this track is about loss.

Loss - when it’s still visceral - when you still think you can call them - when you’re still discombobulated and not sure when it will end.  

Loss - when it colors your every move and burns hot in your heart.

So yes - this is about loss, the loss of a loved one, my loved one, my Dad.

Find Us On Spotify

We're going to be focusing a lot on Spotify over the coming year - it is by far the biggest revenue source for Musicto and music2work2 and the best way for you to support us is to listen to and share our playlists.

We will be developing the Music to Grieve to playlist by adding new tracks so make sure you choose to follow.

Aside from following Musicto and music2work2 on Spotify you can of course sign up for the email list.  We only ever contact you when we have new music available.