Time is finite. There’s only so much of it before there’s none left. It’s this which drives us to do the things we do, the knowledge that this won’t last forever. It’s terrifying really. The fear that all those things we wanted to do and see might be forever unfinished. The fact that one day the tomorrows will run out.
The idea behind Kalenda Music is a simple one. To write songs. Final, finished, complete songs. Whilst this may sound like a simple goal to some, to me it’s not. Too often I find myself too scared to declare something finished because deep down I believe it could be better. We change as people every day. Who am I to decide what’s perfect, when tomorrow me may say I’m wrong? So many creative endeavours left unfinished, so much left unsaid.
Last year my maternal grandmother passed away at the ripe old age of one hundred and one. Whilst arranging the funeral the director asked us what music we would like played at her service. For as long as I can remember Granny had hearing aids and complained that all music sounded terrible to her ears. How do you pick the right music for something like that? My mum asked if I would take this on and make the choice, a task which I was honoured to do.
Grief affects different people in different ways. Sure you can find things to temporarily distact you from it, but sooner of later you have to come to terms with what has happened. Later that day I was sat alone in my spare room, when the inevitable emotions began to overwhelm me. I picked up my acoustic guitar and began gently finger-picking mindless patterns to help clear my mind. As I sat staring out the window I could see the funeral parlour across the street. A wave of sadness fell over me, though this was tempered with a strange comfort knowing she was so close. I thought back to the task I’d been given by my mum and suddenly felt an uncharacteristic certainty in what I needed to do. I wiped away the tears, became conscious of the sounds I was making on the guitar and in that moment I began to write a new piece of music.
This was the first song in a very long time that I had "finished", and from start to finish it was done in less than a week. Something about it was different, though I wasn’t conscious of exactly what it was. In many ways, it wasn’t any more finished than many other songs which I’d nearly finished, but I knew I had to let go.
A few weeks after the funeral I listened back to the track. Something had changed, I had changed. I listened not with the ears of a creator, but as though it was something new. I could enjoy it in a new way. I tried to work out what it was about this that felt so different and realised it boiled down to two key things. Firstly, having declared my musical intentions to my sister, I felt honour-bound to deliver on my promise and present a finished piece for the service. This had become bigger than me. Secondly, I had a deadline. An immovable end point, the artists nemesis, but something which forces you to make decisions you might not otherwise make.
Kalenda Music comes from this. It is my attempt at learning from this experience in the hope that it will empower me to make, and share more music. By involving other people, some of whom are presently strangers to me, I will feel an obligation to deliver something using the creative energy and time they have given me. By delivering a track every month I have created the deadline which forces me to draw a line under one song, finish it, and move on to the next. I have no idea how it will turn out, but, what I do know, is that I feel more excited, more inspired and more motivated to create new music than I have for many years and that is no bad thing.
For Ellen x