On January 8th, I participated in my eighth Two Hour Album Challenge, a community event where participants write a song in two hours that loosely aligns with a randomly-chosen theme. 2HAC is held every three months or so, and the theme for this weekend was "Corruption". I typically take a day or so after the theme announcement to think about what it means to me and to look for inspiration. Sometimes I start with a web search, and in this case I found a few quotes on Goodreads that resonated with me:
"Corruption is a cancer: a cancer that eats away a a citizen's faith in democracy, diminishes the instinct for innovation and creativity.
– Joe Biden
“No matter how corrupt, greedy, and heartless our government, our corporations, our media, and our religious & charitable institutions may become, the music will still be wonderful.”
― kurt vonnegut, A Man Without a Country
“A woman who holds her head up too high, is trying to breathe from her own pollution.”
― Suzy Kassem, Rise Up and Salute the Sun: The Writings of Suzy Kassem
My music teacher and I have been working for the past few weeks on using rhythm as a starting point for writing, so I decided to base my song on the spoken rhythm of the phrase "corruption is a cancer". That phrase gave me a great title for the song as well. I also notated the rhythm of "trying to breathe from her own pollution" because I liked that turn of phrase.
I felt like I wanted my song to show a highly-ordered structure breaking down. When I think structured music, counterpoint comes to mind, and this led me to the idea of writing a fugue that eventually falls apart or gets ground down. This felt like enough to get started, so I sat down and wrote this piece in a smidge over two hours:
Overall, I'm moderately pleased with the song. I think the counterpoint in the string parts is pretty good, though I'm not sure if I really wrote a fugue or not. It took me longer than I expected to write the subject and come up with variations, so I wasn't able to illustrate corruption by altering the music as I had planned. Instead, I used drones and audio effects to break down the sound design. I like the steady crescendo to the vibrato chord. From a mastering standpoint, though, most of the song is too quiet.
The entire 60-song album can be downloaded for free (with optional donation) from Bandcamp.