My Saskatchewan

*This is a song that I wrote and a photo montage that I created in response to my feelings about Saskatchewan. The photography is all my own work.

Personal Art Response to Saskatchewan: Commentary

The inspiration for the lyrics to “Home” came from my personal feelings towards the farm where I grew up. I consider myself a city girl now but I believe I will always be a farm girl at heart. When I am driving away from the city towards my childhood farm, where my parents still live, I feel a sense of anticipation and cannot wait to get there. I have always enjoyed the scenery and I often take some personal time relaxing and decompressing in nature. The Saskatchewan countryside and the valley have a way of making me feel that is hard to describe. I wish there is a word for the emotions of love, wonder, comfort, and peace collectively. That emotion combined with the memories—good, bad, sweet, and bittersweet—are what draw me to Saskatchewan. I mentioned in the song that when I go away something feels wrong. Often when I am on vacation I get homesick, and I believe my homesickness stems from my love of Saskatchewan and the feeling that I get when I am at home. This quote from Oliver Wendell Holmes is a wonderful explanation of my home: “Where we love is home—home that our feet may leave, but not our hearts”. I have left my home for the city which is only thirty kilometers away. In the future I may even leave the city for places that are thousands of kilometers away, but my home will always be my home and always hold my heart.

Along with the song, I have included a collection of photographs that I have taken over the years. All of these photographs were taken at the place I call home and are what I love about Saskatchewan. Often when I spend time in nature out on the Saskatchewan country side I would also take my camera with me. These photographs are art works from times past, but they are also my own personal art response to Saskatchewan and what it means to me. Arranging and collecting these photographs from long ago proved challenging because I once had over ten thousand images stored on an external hard drive that I dropped and broke which resulted in losing all of my photographs. To come up with these images I scoured all of my past and present social media accounts. As well, it was a challenge to make sure I did not use the same photo more than once and as you may have noticed, there is one photo that shows up twice. I noticed after I had already published the video and it was too late to fix it. I also found it challenging to line up specific images with song lyrics and make sure that it made sense. The photos and lyrics are all specifically matched up to represent my own personal connections at that moment.

            I chose to write song lyrics to express my feelings because although I enjoy singing and making music I knew writing lyrics would be a challenge for me. Last year for a school assignment I was required to write a poem for an assignment similar to this one, which I felt uncomfortable doing. The process of writing that poem and the end result was so amazing and intense that I thought I would try something similar with song lyrics. I ended up giving the poem to my Dad as a gift because he was a major part of my inspiration, and he loved it. I was surprised at the positive reaction he had to it and that made me realize that writing does not have to be perfect to be powerful. My goal in choosing song lyrics this time was not necessarily to be powerful, but to try something out again that I am uncomfortable with and see what happens. As it turns out, I found that I could have kept writing more verses. There were so many specific things I love about my home that I could not find room for in the song. I knew that I would be challenged during the creation process but I would also be enjoying myself with the music.

            My first instinct was to create a piano composition to accompany my lyrics. I had practiced my song and tried to record it but the sound was awful. Previously I have used my phone to record a piano piece and it came out beautifully, but this time the recording was not usable. I came to the conclusion it was because I was using an upright traditional piano instead of an electric keyboard, which caused the sound to be loud and slightly off key because the piano needed to be tuned. Since I did not have access to a keyboard, I picked up my ukulele and looked up some chords on Google. I received my ukulele this past summer as a birthday gift and have not had a chance to learn how to play it yet. This project turned out to be the perfect chance to learn it, despite the sore fingers and cramped hand!

            As I was practicing and attempting to record, I was struggling to get a perfect run through in one recording and was getting frustrated. I remembered that I have an editing program on my computer that will allow me to layer recordings, so I tried recording the ukulele first, and then the melody, and finally the harmony. It still took me many attempts to get everything lined up correctly and sounding good. After I had this draft done, I thought I could add in a second harmony and maybe some percussion. So I went ahead and made a shaker with rice and recorded a simple beat and some more harmonies. However, when I went to upload them to my program I realized that the maximum amount of audio files I can layer is three, so I had to leave them out. My final project is still not perfect, but I am proud of how it turned out. The tempo of the Ukulele music is slightly inconsistent, but I was able to work around that because as far as I am concerned the metronome is my enemy! During my vocal recordings I was struggling with word placement and phrasing. I ended up changing words around a bit as I went along. I ended up completely changing out the last verse to make it flow better.

            Seeing myself as an artist has always been a challenge because I used to think that artists had to be professionals. I have discovered such is not the case. I am an artist and when I make art it is in my own unique way for me to enjoy. If others enjoy it as well then that is just a bonus! I spent many afternoons practicing this artwork and I thoroughly enjoyed the process and found that it relieved my stress. I do not think I will keep writing songs and lyrics for fun, but I am glad that I faced the challenge and was able to come up with a piece of work that I am proud of.