Tag Archives: creativity

Peace On The Earth

Last year at this time, I was inspired to write a strident song about peace. I had thought about writing a new one this year but got too busy with other things. So, here once again is “Peace on the Earth”. I hope you enjoy. Lyrics and credits below.

Break the silence
Confront the madness
Make the voice of reason heard

Crush the hatred
with ruthless kindness
Let your love be the last word

Peace on the Earth
Peace on the Earth

Stop the violence
of cold indifference
Too much goes on that we allow

Pierce the darkness
with fierce compassion
Beat the drum of justice NOW!

Peace on the Earth
Peace on the Earth

—————–

Music by Kelly Carpenter. Words by Kelly Carpenter and Scott Burnett.
© 2010 KelSongs / Kelly Carpenter Music (ASCAP) / Scott A. Burnett. All rights reserved.

Recorded December 2010 at Avondale.Blazing guitar solos by Scott A. Burnett. Vocal choirs by Kelly and Merrilyn Carpenter and UPC Gospel Choir. Programming, rhythm guitar, and lead vocal by Kelly Carpenter.

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Call Yourself An Artist | A Big Creative Yes

Awesome, simple inspiration… reblogged from  Call Yourself An Artist | A Big Creative Yes.

Call Yourself An Artist

Vintage Label

image: Gemma Morgan

…Or don’t call yourself an artist.

It’s just a label.

You make art. You’re an artist. Story over.

Redirect the time and energy you spend debating and doubting your artistic credentials into creating the art that sets your soul (and then ours) on fire.

That’s all we can ever ask.

Thanks for reading. Please share these words.

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Passage Liner Notes

I have been fast and furious working on the CD package design for my upcoming CD “Passage”. Here are some of the liner notes… 

It all started with a dream… a dream that practically all studio musicians share… warming up for a session with some impromptu jamming while the studio engineers finish their setup… 15-30 minutes of the sheer joy of making raw music, getting in the zone, playing whatever we feel like… everything sounding terrific in the headphones… the thought would land: what if we could just go into the studio one day and record this?

It was summer of 2010… I was part of a house band at a conference in Canada enjoying many a good jam together while providing afterglow music for the end of each session…that’s when I knew: I should bring these chaps into the studio and just do this… this will be my new record… I already knew I wanted something different than my last instrumental album, mostly piano and acoustic guitar… so this is it: a full band jamming over some pre-arranged chord progressions… let’s see what happens…

We’ll record this in Canada… I wanted to record this with the “back line” of the Canada band: Brian, Calum and Darcy, along with my musical buddy over the years, Scott Burnett… Calum recommended the studio: Mushroom Studios in Vancouver, Canada… the Mushroom that is part of music legend…Heart recorded their first there…The Supremes, Led Zeppelin, Loverboy, BTO, Sarah McLachlan…

We’ll keep this simple… With date and location set, now it’s time to write some material… I figured I’d come up with several chord progressions… just keeping it loose enough for the band to be spontaneous… yet, as I was writing, something different began to take shape… distinct musical pieces started to emerge… I kept reminding myself: “keep it simple”… then the realization struck me: I was no longer in control… I’m not really writing this music, this music is writing me… and a story line is forming… something about a journey… what is happening?… something wonderful…

The story unfolds… The project becomes a story about a journey… the making of this album a journey unto itself, new ideas around every corner… oh, how I love the creative process!!…somehow, this evolved into a soundtrack of sorts… certain thematic elements, or “leitmotifs“, are introduced and then recur throughout… can you pick them out?… you will have to listen all the way through to find them… so what is this journey about?… you, the listener can provide the script…who are the main characters in your story?… where did they depart from?… where is the journey taking them?… or you?… be still… close your eyes… and let your imagination soar…

passage \’pas-ij\ n … the action or process of passing from one place or stage to another … a continuous movement or flow … a way of exit or entrance: a road, path, channel, or course by which something passes … something that takes place between two persons mutually … a brief portion of a written work or speech that is noteworthy … a detail of a work of art … a phrase or short section of a musical composition …

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Peace On The Earth

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season and a bright beginning to 2011.

This past December I was messing around with some of my music production gear and came up with a musical idea that quickly evolved into a song over the course of a few days. I am not sure how it happened, but this type of thing does happen every once in a while. A spark and then a flame and then a fire. Then a sense of urgency to complete the thing. This particular time around it became a song called “Peace On The Earth”. Like I said, it started out as a musical idea, not more than a groove, really. Then the next morning, words started forming, and they were about taking a stand against injustice, violence, and war. And then the chorus came and it was obvious: “Peace On The Earth”. I felt compelled to get this out to the world before Christmas, which I did by a few days.

I wasn’t entirely happy with the words, so I called up my old friend and collaborator Scott Burnett to help out. I then had him put a guitar solo on the recording. I asked him to play as if this was the last guitar solo on earth. And he played with the reckless abandon I was looking for! Later that week, the gospel choir at his church got together for their weekly rehearsal, and I got permission to have them record a few refrains of the chorus. This I mixed in to the last three sections of the chorus to give it this big sound. All in all, this is a powerful song.

My wife Merrilyn and I put together the video, which became a further evolution of the song. The result? This song is a call for an end to genocide. I recently read a novel where the character went to visit the Holocaust Museum in Washington D.C. It made me think of all the other museums scattered around the globe remembering the atrocities that occurred there. Is it possible to imagine a world where not one more such memorial needs to be built?

There is more than just one type of genocide, of course. Wholesale murder of people deemed expendable due to race, class, national, or religious differences is one thing. But there are many other injustices where people are denied opportunity, land, basic food and shelter, a voice.

I am not sure why this song happened to me. And I’m not sure what I’m supposed to do about it. I know that I have to do something. So I start with something simple: Pray for peace.

Enough said, here is the YouTube video. Below are the words. I hope you are moved by it.

Break the silence
Confront the madness
Make the voice of reason heard

Crush the hatred
with ruthless kindness
Let your love be the last word

Peace on the Earth
Peace on the Earth

Stop the violence
of cold indifference
Too much goes on that we allow

Pierce the darkness
with fierce compassion
Beat the drum of justice NOW!

Peace on the Earth
Peace on the Earth

—————–

Music by Kelly Carpenter. Words by Kelly Carpenter and Scott Burnett.
© 2010 KelSongs / Kelly Carpenter Music (ASCAP) / Scott A. Burnett. All rights reserved.

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Twitterpated – Music Success in Nine Weeks, Week 4

I must start out by saying that I really did not get Twitter at first. It’s as if “Twitter for Dummies” was a 100-level course and I needed to take the 099 version which would be called “Twitter for People Who Aspire to Be Dummies”. I have already been on Twitter for at least a year and have been in the habit of tweeting a few times a day. But to really make it mean something? And have it mean something to somebody else?

BirdI am discovering that much of this Music Success in Nine Weeks program is about overcoming the mental and emotional obstacles I have created for myself, so it is somewhat embarrassing but necessary to drag my insecurities out into light, and perhaps by doing so I may help others on their journey. So it with chagrin that I admit how much my insecurities get triggered when I see how many Twitter followers or Facebook friends other people have, people that I have known well and have become quite famous. This sort of thinking is horribly toxic, of course, and I have to do a 180 on my mindset. Social networking is not about how many people follow my every move. It is first and foremost about building community.

We had the assignment to follow at least 100 people. We were even provided a starter list of sorts, and I started following many on these lists, and then waited to see what sort of stuff showed up. I discovered, frankly, that most of it didn’t really mean a lot to me. Hmm… this is going to be harder than I thought.

I tried searching on some different things, such as “songwriters in Seattle” or “Seattle music” or “healing music” or “relaxation music”. I found a few references here or there and I went to the tweeter’s profiles to see if there was anything else interesting they had to say. Perhaps interesting to somebody, but not to me.

But then I decided to search on “creativity” and noticed that there were a few people who showed up in the search results more than once. They seemed to have something interesting to say about creativity. And then the light bulb started to come on. I can follow some of these people; I can comment back or even retweet things they say to the community I’m building. And when I say “follow”, I mean doing more than just casually reading their tweets but actually entering into the life that they are sharing. Actually listening.

Okay, now I’ve found one bread crumb on this trail: Creativity. So along those lines I tried to find a community that is interested in Julia Cameron’s “The Artist’s Way”. I haven’t had a lot of luck here, a few random references. But then it occurred to me that I could start a community. I could even do some quotes out of her book and hash it with #theartistsway. And I can also retweet her tweets.

And maybe I will find more kindred spirits, one bread crumb at a time. And truly listen.

I have spent the past week on Vashon Island near Seattle, holed away in this rustic cabin which overlooks the Puget Sound. It is absolutely beautiful here. I have had no internet connectivity other than through my smart phone and have been forced to relax. While here I have been reading this book that is blowing my mind, “A
Million Miles in a Thousand Years”. The premise of the book is that we can make the story of our life meaningful by living a life that is meaningful rather than living only inside our heads. To put it into contemporary vernacular: Live Out Loud. (I could write a whole blog post about what this means to me, but I’ll save that for another time.) For now, all to say that it occurred to me that I can start following—as in listening– to the author, Donald Miller, on Twitter.

Once you find your
community, you
find your voice.

I am starting to get it now. Twitter is about life and community. It’s not just about my career. But career can be a part of it once I find community and listen to what others have to say. Then I will have something interesting to say too, other than “Buy my record”.

So if you are like me, somewhat Twitterpated, here are a few starter-kit questions:

  • What are some books you have read in the last year that have been transformational?
  • Are there things that are worth quoting and passing along to your friends?
  • If you blog, what tags have you used for your posts?
  • What movies have you seen lately that has moved you?
  • What type of music moves you? (Not just stuff you want to emulate because you want it to sell.)
  • What moods does your music inspire? Search with those descriptors.
  • How about causes that you believe in?
  • How about one or more successes of the day that you want to share about? What about people who are doing the same sorts of things?

I believe these sorts of questions lead us on a search to find a community of kindred spirits. And once you find your community, you find your voice. And people will not just follow, but listen too.


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Picture Day

Yesterday, Nigel Burnett and I hung out most of the day. He brought along a camera and a few lenses. I brought my person and a few changes of shirts. The objective of our outing was to take many, many,  (as in hundreds of) photos of me in order to eventually select a few that would be suitable for various PR purposes in my fledgling music enterprises. I am horribly self-conscious about having photos taken of me, but I suppose most people feel that way about themselves too.

Nigel is the son of one of our closest all-time best friends, Scott and Hilary Burnett. We have known these elder Burnetts for over 26 years. We remember when Scott and Hilary were trying to come up with names for Nigel before Nigel was Nigel, back in the days when you didn’t know if you were going to get a boy or a girl until the day of his or her birth. It makes me think that I sound real old just writing that. Kind of like me writing that I remember when they invented paper towels or when McDonalds had an ad on television boasting how you could buy a whole meal at McDonalds and still get change back from your dollar.

But I digress. (You think?) I love the fact that there are really no rules in blogging, as in I can just go down any old rabbit trail my fingers carry me. Just call me “Rabbit Fingers”.

But back to the photo shoot. I had seen a few of Nigel’s photos on Facebook and could tell that he just has “the eye”. I also needed some ideas of what to wear for the photos for the “professional” look so I consulted the family fashion advisor, Hilary Burnett. The whole Burnett family is artsy and creative. (Scott and I have co-written music for years.) What fun!

I wanted to get some pictures around a piano so we went to University Presbyterian Church where Scott is the Worship and Arts Director. It’s a huge church and there are lots of places to go lurking about to find the right light and shade. They also have at least half a dozen pianos and we found one room where all this light comes down through the skylight. We also loitered around some stairwells.

Speaking of loitering. Unfortunately this church, which is in the heart of the university district, just recently had to implement a new policy where they won’t let vagrants loiter in or about the building. Apparently some had become aggressive and threatening and all it takes are a few bad apples to spoil the whole lot. It’s too bad, the church wants to help out people in need, but also has to balance safety for those who conduct business there. The situation is heart wrenching.

A few times, Nigel and I would encounter some raised eyebrows and I would assure them that we were not vagrants and that our presence was indeed sanctioned.

We finally tired of the church setting and went to my favorite Seattle neighborhood: Fremont. It was well past lunch, so we each had a pint and a plate of fish and chips at the Red Door. Great food! Then we lurked about various alleyways to get some street shots. We especially got some good ones outside Theo Chocolates which is this cool brick building. And they have killer chocolate.

So, all in all, a very good outing. We got some good pictures and it was great to hang out with Nigel and get to know him a little better. Thanks Nigel!

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When Play Is Work

Music is now my full-time job. Hard to believe this is finally happening.

Although this transition has been in the planning for the past two years, it has been interrupted many times in many ways.

First there was the economy tanking at the end of 2008. Not really a good time to start a new career.

Then I developed Ulnar Neuritus. That definitely put all plans on hold. Hard to use your hands for music when the fingers are numb and aching most of the time. My former employer had very good medical coverage, and there were the many visits to doctors and therapists that needed to be paid for.

I was finally let go in mid March because I still can’t work on a computer nine hours a day. This happened to coincide with another life-interrupting event: my Dad getting very sick and almost dying. All of March and early April has been taken up with taking care of family. I’m not complaining. My Dad is doing so much better now and will be coming home soon.

So now, finally, life is settling down into a new “normal”. I start my day out by playing and practicing piano for 30 to 60 minutes. Followed by some vocal exercises or whatever additional music skills I would like to develop. Followed by blogging or Facebook or LinkedIn or other web content development.

Most of this activity feels like playing. I feel sort of guilty. I have been conditioned all these years to think of playing music as a form of recreation that I do in my spare time with the occasional professional gig thrown in.

It’s weird to think of me staying at home, not working a “real job”, and instead playing music, songwriting, recording. I’m pinching myself.

But then I realize that although this is play, this is play for a purpose, for a set of objectives. This is actually work I’m doing. It just seems like play.

For example, I have been working on learning some jazz improvisation during my piano practice. This serves a few purposes: First, it improves my sight reading and technique, helpful for studio work. Second, it makes me more prepared for the occasional jazz gig and gigs in general. Finally, it inspires creativity for some of the music content projects I have planned this year.

Wow! I am finally doing what I love to do.

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Interrupted, part 2

Today I am not using dictation software, so I will need to type judiciously. I’m thinking of trying out DragonSpeak. It’s got to be better than what’s included in Windows.

So, more about being interrupted…

As mentioned, I make a living with my hands, whether it is from computer work or from music. For most of the past three decades, I have made my living primarily by doing computer-related work. It has been my job, I have done it well, but it has never been my passion.

My passion has always been music. It is my true vocation. It is what I want to do when I grow up. And it is what I want to now spend most of my time doing.

For many years, my music has been about me expressing myself and hoping people like it. For many years, I have been hopelessly addicted to people pleasing, endlessly aching for approval. I suppose I could number myself among the masses of artists out there who suffer from similar insecurities. “Here I am. Here is my art. Please accept me.”

Given that I have been such an approval junkie, it is probably a blessing that I haven’t been doing music full time. Having it be on the side (or back) burner while making a “normal” living has kept it from totally consuming me. It has kept things somewhat manageable while I have lived the responsible life. But marginalizing my true vocation has left me frustrated and discontented at times.

However, what music means to me has morphed over the last few years. It doesn’t seem to be so much about me expressing myself for my own sake, i.e. in order to make me feel good about myself. It is becoming more about me recognizing that I have a creative gift and I can use it to touch others. I am coming in touch with the concept that a “power greater than myself” (who I refer to as God) has released in me this wonderful creative energy and it is my pleasure and responsibility to touch and bless other’s lives with it. I am not saying this out of any grandiosity; I believe all people have been given gifts to share.

I have been sensing for the last year or so that I am in a season of transition…transitioning from a day “career” that I can barely tolerate to realizing my life passion…a new coming of age. I am excited about this. To spend most of my time doing what I love to do… wow, what a concept!

So it is with some consternation that I grapple with my current disability. It begs the question, “God what are you up to?”. To me, that is not a rhetorical question. God will be a recurring figure in my blog posts. There will probably be a “God part 1”, “God part 2”, etc. I have much to say about God, and mostly in the form of questions rather than answers.

But my fingers are complaining so I’ll stop for now. I have more to say about life interrupted, and what I have to say is not about me, but about others who have had their lives seriously interrupted.

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