Inspiration seems to come from weird places for me. It mostly comes from music I’ve listened to, but very often I won’t be able to pinpoint what song or composer it was exactly that inspired me to write a piece. Sometimes I will be writing, or just fooling around on the piano and I’ll have images or even a small story come to mind that make sense with the music I’m playing. So, Let's start off with some albums I used to listen to
1. The Smashing Pumpkins – Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness
I listened to a lot of (punk) rock as a teenager. I love the vibe of this record. To me, it is the perfect teenager record, feeling misunderstood and being angry at the world and all that stuff you feel then. Maybe I still haven’t totally outgrown that phase. Haha. Anyway, the way songs on this record are constructed and the chords for most songs still make it a joy to listen to. (by the way, I also love the video for 'Tonight, Tonight' inspired by Georges Méliès – ‘Le voyage dans la lune’
2. Undeclinable Ambuscade-Their Greatest Adventures
When I was 15 I started playing in a punk/skate/ska core band. I played in the horn section (obviously) with a trumpet and trombone player. We as a band hung out all the time. Practicing once a week in our small town, writing songs and drinking lots of beer. Here’s one of the records we loved. It’s a dutch band called Undeclinable Ambuscade. My favorite record was ‘Their Greatest Adventures’. This is happy skate-punk with lots of energy and lyrics about anything and everything. It still makes me happy listening to it.
3. Deviate- Thorn of the Living
Okay, so after the ska and punk music, I moved on to metal and hardcore. I loved going to those shows and just moshing in the pit. Haha, I bet you didn’t expect that.
So, here’s my favorite metalcore album. It is called 'Thorn of the living’ by a Belgian band called Deviate. Most of the lyrics are about how bad humans are for this planet and how we should all treat each other a little bit better. (well, I put it in a nice way now, the lyrics are pretty dark… again…angry teenager) but I love the chord progressions.
4. The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau
Now more about my composing and other influences.
I wrote a tune called Jean Jacques. When I was young I used to watch a lot of nature documentaries. One of the great nature documentary series I watched was ‘The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau’. The music in these documentaries is often impressionist/contemporary classical. I did not realize that all the music I’ve listened to, be it in film or just on MTV, has influenced me in one way or another but this became apparent when I was writing Jean Jacques. I had been practicing triads in wide voicing on saxophone and started playing them on piano. I then started to sing the melody for the first 4 bars (the song is a waltz, the chords are all wide voicings of intervals and the first part of the melody is a descending whole tone scale). As I was playing/singing these bars, the images of Jacques Cousteau’s documentaries came to mind and gave me a direction as to where this song should go. I took this song to a composing session with my friend Daan Herweg. We developed the song, I took it home and changed some more things and there it was.
Watch an example of ‘The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau’ here.
5. The Beatles-She's Leave Home
The last arrangement I wrote is an arrangement of the Beatles’ ‘She’s Leaving Home’. This arrangement is a combination of two influences. I’m not really a connaisseur when it comes to the great songs of the Beatles, but my father is a great fan and listened to their songs a lot when I was younger. I stumbled upon this particular song years ago when I was studying in Rotterdam at the conservatory. I was in an ensemble with a singer who made an arrangement for the song. After I listened to the original recording, the song stuck with me and seemed to surface every once and a while, touching me deeply every time I heard it. I love the way the strings in this song are in no way corny, a thing that often happens when strings are added to a pop song. The second influence for this arrangement is a song called ‘The Music of Life’ by John Hollenbeck’s Large Ensemble. It is a very slow piece with open contemporary harmonies and a poem recited on 1 pitch. I heard this song for the first time about a year ago at Roulette in Brooklyn. It was truly enchanting. At the time it felt like a big white canvas with colors coming out of it from time to time. I promised to myself that I would write a piece like that some day. I used that idea to write the arrangement for ‘She’s Leaving Home’. I didn’t want to destroy the beauty of the song and it could not in any way become a corny song. So I decided to mix the simple beauty of this song with contemporary harmonies, using a lot of space in the intro.
Marike is an incredible saxophonist and composer. Listen to some of here music at her website.