Have you heard of the KonMari method? Pioneered by Japanese tidying expert Marie Kondo, the KonMari method is a Japanese system of simplifying and organizing one’s home by discarding physical items that do not bring joy into one’s life. Kondo proposes a simple criteria on deciding which items to get rid of and which to keep - whether or not the item “sparks joy”. Intrigued by what became one of the biggest trends that ushered in the new year, I decided to create a new composition using the KonMari method, using only musical elements that sparked joy within me.
Before I embarked on my composition, I came up with five musical parameters as a framework to guide my composition process:
In accordance with the KonMari method, I made sure to choose or decide on something within the parameter only if it really sparked joy within me.
To begin, I had to pick a style for my composition. Having lived in Kuala Lumpur over the past few years, I’ve gotten used to the fast-paced lifestyle that pervades our city, from our everyday commute to the way we interact with each other. The hurried pace of life I’ve adopted in Kuala Lumpur is a stark contrast to the leisurely, relaxing vibe of Ipoh - my hometown and the city that I grew up in. Thus, whilst selecting a style for my composition, I found myself drawn to slow tempos and grooves that are more laidback. I am also a big fan of R&B artists like D’Angelo, Babyface, Luther Vandross and Prince - all of them known for their soothing, slow jams. I finally decided on the setting of 4 beats per bar, a universally familiar groove that propels any listener to sway to the rhythm of it.
Next, I had to decide on the tonality of my composition. This was an easy pick - almost immediately and instinctively I chose C Major, the first key that I learnt how to compose and to improvise in. It held sentimental value for me because of that reason, and since my early days of writing and improvising music, I’ve always associated C Major with a sweet sense of nostalgia and a feeling of excitement similar to that of a painter upon receiving a blank canvas. Following the tonality, I planned out the chord progression of my composition and settled for a personal and universal favourite, the “1-6-2-5-1”.
With the foundations of my composition now in place, I began improvising a melody. I ended up with a light-hearted, almost playful melodic motif which I felt represented joy most personally and authentically to me, making use of musical devices such as syncopation and rhythmic displacement to emulate a “tickling” feeling. By virtue of my training as a Jazz pianist, I always leave some room in my compositions for me to extemporize for a couple of measures, which I also did in this track.
Do check out this little demo below.
Thank you Marie Kondo for being a #marinspiration! Inspired to write your own #konposition now? Give it a go and let us hear your rendition and musical portrayal of what sparks joy within you!
Play on and Tinkle Away!!