• Jamie, from Mademyown

Song - 体谅/Empathy

This project is a little bit different - I had some reflections on the topic of empathy, and then got inspired by a musical documentary, "The Songs We Sang" to express it via a song.


The tricky thing is - I don't have a music background. I learnt the recorder in primary school (like all other kids), and enjoy karaoke. That was the extent of my music experience :D


So here's a short record of how to write a song without a proper music background (not many photos because the project is a bit more intangible):

1) Write the lyrics: the most feasible entry point for me was to start with lyrics (also a great way to express my reflections). Because I didn't have a melody in mind yet, I just had to go with my instincts on the rhythm, so it felt kind of like writing a poem


2) Figure out the melody / tune: I just looked at the words, and tried to sing them out. Might be my karaoke experience (and love for sappy chinese ballads), somehow it kinda just works out. I recorded myself singing it, because I didn't know the notes I was singing :D


3) Figure out the accompanying chords: even though the tune is enough to sing the song, I wanted to make it more "real", but having accompanying background music. Super grateful to Nicholine who helped me put the chords together based on all my scrappy material documenting what I came up with:

My attempts to write down the notes of the song - didn't know what notes they were, but I could count the sequence of the keys on the keyboard when I roughly try to figure out and play the melody. Thanks Nicholine for processing this <3


4) Learn how to play the chords: apparently the keyboard / piano is one of the easiest instruments to play chords on. I originally started with the ukulele, but switched later on when I realized how challenging it was to master playing the ukulele properly (my fingers were so painful from trying to press the strings + seemed too large and kept accidentally pressing multiple strings oops)



Initial attempt with ukulele


After lots of practice, managed to cobble together a little video:


Lyrics:


Verse 1

良心怎能过

How can I face my conscience

目睹这决定瑕疵太多

I have witnessed too many imperfections in this decision

你明目张胆

Your brazenness,

做的一切真是负了我

All that you’ve done has really disappointed me


当初给你的爱

The love I gave to you,

你没真理解我

you didn’t see me through

总以为放纵我

You thought you were indulging me

但你给的自由不算什么

But that freedom you gave, it didn’t really mean that much to me


Chorus

为何我的心思

Why don’t you see the intentions

你都没有看透

That I had for you

本你我有的爱

The love that we both shared

渐渐化成了莫

Is crumbling, falling through

就差那点共识体谅

Just take a look from where I stand

结局可能不一样

Perhaps it might change how things will end

如果能再重来

If we can turn back time

渴望战的对象

I hope the enemy is clear

不是彼此而是情状

It’s not you, but the situation threatening what we hold dear


Verse 2

这事情已过

The incident has passed

完美不是我求的结果

Perfection wasn’t the outcome I had asked

你置身事外

You staying out of the matter

才是最有效地帮助我

Was the best way for you to help make things better


我所付出的心

The heart and soul I poured in —

似乎你都错过

It’s as if you’ve never even seen

让你在家等我

Letting you wait at home for me

一切结束后就有个安窝

And when everything ends, we’ll be safe and free


Repeat chorus


If you're interested in my reflections that led to me writing this song, you can read them here.


The song can refer to many different contexts - what comes to mind for you when you listen to it?

Details of project

Duration: It's difficult to put a time to this, but the part that took the longest was probably getting the music translated to chords and trying to play it. I wrote the lyrics in one night (because I was so inspired, so it just spilled out of me), and sang out the tune another night.


Price: Not possible to put a price tag to this project (and Nicholine's precious time helping me with the chords). But for some parts like the ukulele, and the keyboard (I bought a foldable one, it's super space-saving, but unfortunately you can hear some plasticky sounds when playing on the plastic keys oops. Nevertheless, still very good for what I needed + space-saving!). I used Splice to create the video, and that's a free software on my phone.


Level of "fun": 4/5

I personally really enjoyed this project, because it was a really different & refreshing medium, and also a way to be able to express my feelings and thoughts. As much as it's less "tangible" compared to the other objects I've made, it's also something "real" I can carry along with me all the time (e.g. break into song any moment I want :D), so it was really fun to put together the lyrics and the music to make it real. I also enjoyed putting the video together - it was tedious, but I love sappy chinese ballads, so it was fun trying to come up with a video for one!


Level of difficulty: 3.5/5

I was told that anyone can write a song, and I guess that is true (I've come up with short random songs about my husband while we were on holiday haha). But to try to put something together and with + playing accompanying chords without a music background, that was the tricky bit for me. I didn't even do the chords myself. And if you throw in translating the lyrics and putting together the video - it's a bit of a challenge having to use such different skills to make it happen.