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HNR 111: Introduction to the Life of the Mind 

Academic Autobiography

The record button turns red, I hear the metronome, and now I just have to play. A simple rhythm, a rhythm I wrote, a rhythm to go with the melody my friend sang. I start playing, hitting each note, stroking each string, when suddenly, I miss. The note is not only sharp but also too quiet. I have to figure out how to either fix it in post or re-record, and I need this song to sound good, after all it is the first song I have ever written.

A few months earlier, my orchestra teacher, Mr. D, had told my entire class that we had three options for a class assignment: perform a solo for the entire class, transcribe a song that already exists onto another instrument, or write a song. I have always loved listening to songs, and I’m a theatre kid so I live and breathe musicals, so of course I decided I was gonna write a song. The only problem, I had no idea how to write lyrics, produce and edit, and compose a song. I knew what kind of song I wanted to write, it would be something with chorus and melody, light on instruments, and overall have an Indie sound to it. The goal was set and clear. Now, all I had to do was get a crew together.

Maggie, the singer, Lee, the pianist, and me, the bassist. They were my neighbors and some of the best musicians I’ve met. Maggie has written songs in the past so she knew how to help, but she’d never worked with others before with songs. Lee wrote an entire musical, so they knew how to spice things up when necessary. And then there was me, all I had going for me was 8 years of being classically trained on the stand up bass, but I wasn’t gonna play the double bass this time, instead I would be trying my hand at the electric bass which has a whole other feel when it comes to actually playing it. I had the drive to do this though because of my friends. I didn’t want to let them down and I knew how much we all loved the idea of working together to create something original.

We would meet up every Saturday for months recording and writing. We would do all of it together, or at least with the others in the room. As a group it worked well that we could just be in the presence of one another. It made us work harder, and overall we learned faster and better with each other in the same room. The song was coming together by now. I had found my love for editing through Maggie and Lee pushing me to learn the program we were using to record and keep track of everything we had worked on.

Whenever we were bored and couldn’t get any inspiration on the song, I’d put on a bunch of different indie songs to try to give us a vibe of what we were looking for. One specific song that stuck out to us was Prom Dress by Mxmtoon. The chorus and the story told through it was easily relatable, at least to me. After many Saturdays of late nights and early mornings working on this song and learning about song writing I finally had created and produced a song, I had learned how to do all of this thanks to my friends, and on the same day that I had turned the song in, my film teacher, Mr. Mergler had a project he wanted me to do: create a music video.

These two projects had nothing to do with each other but the timing was spectacular! Unfortunately, Lee and Maggie did not want to film a music video to our song, so I had to figure something out. The other issue that I had realized was that I had never made a music video before, ever. I knew that I was going to have to think through what would be considered a good music video. I was in the car with my friend, Toni, when Prom Dress came on and that’s when it popped into my head, I should do a music video on that song specifically! 

The song follows one person as they have a terrible prom night, and when I was visualizing the video in my head, I knew Toni would be the best fit! So I started working on the video starting with figuring out how to make a music video. I was rushing from thrift store to thrift store looking for a dress for Toni for the video, I drove from site to site trying to scope out what would be the best locations, and I was so ready to do this when suddenly my head went blank on what Toni would actually be doing during the video because she can’t just stand there looking around or confused.

I went to Mr. Mergler the next time I had class to talk about how to figure out blocking. I showed my sketches and journals of the locations and edits to the video I wanted to make, and he couldn’t really help. There was one other person I knew I could go to that would help me figure this problem out: Toni. She knew what questions to ask for me to figure out how I wanted her to move, sit, run, etc. Toni also helped me learn how to edit using different programs for videos. She made it fun to edit videos - something I had previously despised. For the next three weeks she and I worked closely making the music video.

On the day the assignment was due, not only was I proud of my work, but I was happy with the entire process. Getting to work alongside someone, especially someone who is my friend, made the process fun and seemingly easy even though I had to learn something new at every step. Through both projects getting to work with friends even if they were simply in the room made me want to learn more, to understand music and video on a deeper level than previously understood.

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