Unification News for September 2001
Composing Music for the Family Pledge
by Yasuko Bang (Mary Jane Y. Tashiro)
After God's Day 2001, I was thinking that I must someday write music for the Family Pledge. I was reluctant to do it because first of all, I'm not Korean and to put music to Father's words, especially such an important 8 paragraphs was a bit intimidating to me. I decided that this was a job for a Korean musician, not for me so I didn't give it another thought. However, one day, (February 17th), after Father and Mother came home from South America, we were all gathered at East Garden for a welcome home party and Whaja LaValley, the Korean teacher and director of the Preschool here at Belvedere urged me to write music for the Family Pledge for the children. She had in mind to teach 3 and 4 year-olds through simple music that she was hoping I would compose. I never imagined composing music for the Pledge on a child's level. This might be something I should be able to do, besides now I have Whaja's support if I have difficulty with the Korean words coordinating with the music.
The following day on Sunday, Father spoke at Belvedere and I couldn't wait to start. On Monday I began. Because I was thinking I was going to compose for the children, it shouldn't be such an arduous task. I didn't know it at the time but psychologically, God was "setting me up" to do this. The theme came quickly. This led to several days of non-stop work. During this time, I went over to sing the first Kajong Mengsei to David Kim who happened to be at Belvedere. He was so enthusiastic about the theme of the lst pledge I sang. He interjected that the first 5 were more spiritual and the last 3 were more practical directions from Father so I should make the theme a little different. He also said I should make the ending like a Beethoven symphony! With this, I knew the music was no longer going to be simple but more dramatic but how exciting if I could do it!
When Father had first given us the Family Pledge to learn, my Korean husband had given me a translation of each word. This was a great help and when I ran into a trouble spot, I would ask him whether the music made sense with the Korean words. I soon found that the words had such enormous depth of meaning that the music had to match this quality. The paragraphs were different lengths and Father was elaborating on every level of what we should strive for. The music had to have strength as well as heart. I couldn't have simple phrases but bridges to connect to a sustaining thought. After the 2nd printout which I thought was closer to what I wanted, I called Whaja to hear the finished music. She brought along two 2nd generation Korean sisters that were helping with the children's Korean education. They all liked it but they already knew it was too difficult for the children to sing. With their suggestions, I decided to build more tension in the music to lead to some "key" points in the Pledge.
On March 1st with the 3rd printout, Whaja was happy and decided the older children at Jacob House who were learning Korean should learn it, not the preschool children. Later when I asked whether she had started to teach them, she said they were slow in getting the program underway for the season. Much later she suggested adults should learn it and pave the way for the children to learn it.
On April 18, my husband and I were scheduled to leave for Europe. I was to give 2 concerts in Holland and Austria so I put the Family Pledge on the shelf and started to practice and prepare for the programs. However, before I left I sent a copy of the music to Moonsook Choi because I was so impressed with her choral conducting of another song I composed (Sun Myung Moon). We discussed the 3 measures where she thought the Korean words needed more emphasis by being on the "downbeat". I asked whether it could be solved by having a "higher" note on the "upbeat" giving it emphasis and she thought that might work. I then sent her another copy with the corrections but didn't have time to write the words in. When I got back on May 2nd and called her, she admitted she hadn't looked at it. Understandably, she realized it would require energy and time and was reluctant to get involved but she didn't say this at the time. This time, I faxed her another copy with the Korean words written in by my own hand. She got back to me the same day and told me those same 3 measures still bothered her. So my work began again. Adding sixteenth notes didn't solve the problem so this necessitated putting in an extra measure. My concern always was that not only should the Korean words have the right emphasis but that the music makes sense to a musician that hears it for the first time. I sent her a final copy in the mail but I found out later it was the 1st of 5 final copies. Each time I would scribble in, by hand, the Korean words. Originally it was in 3 part harmony for girls and she was willing to start practicing the pledge with the KEA choir by having the men sing an octave lower the 2nd soprano part. She had done this before with another song, Royal Family of God that I had already published and it sounded great. She later mentioned that if I wrote out all the parts, soprano, 2nd soprano, alto, tenor and bass, it would be easier for her to teach the choir. I soon knew I had to do this. Even though it meant more work for me, I suddenly found myself wanting to make the musical arrangement more interesting and exciting by having the women and men alternate singing the "heaven" and "earth" sections separately. For the 2nd pledge, I wrote a baritone solo with the women singing obligato. I wrote a canonic section which means men start an important phrase and women interrupt, using the same words emphasizing "heart culture". An acapella section is so effective before leading into the last pledge which would end with a culminating 6 parts instead of 5 to give it more impact. The music covered 7 pages and I sent this to Moonsook.
Always I knew that having an interesting piano accompaniment adds to the dimension of the performance. Before I end this project, I knew I had to compose a piano accompaniment that would support the music to highlight the meaning of the words even more. I wrote strong chords for "kingship" passages, flowing notes for "filial son" passages, high lyrical notes on the 4th and 7th pledges in case I could have a flute to join us to make for more texture and interest. This turned out to be an additional 8 pages of music, making the entire pledge a total of 15 pages. It was ready for printing. There was a "little" problem I almost forgot. How do we write the Korean words in? To do it "by hand" is so amateurish after I did the music through the Finale software which looks so professional. There are no Korean typewriters around since the computer age has taken over. Moonsook saved the day. Without my knowledge, she decided to take on this monumental project. She printed out from her computer the Korean words and pasted each measure "by hand"!. This took hours to do because she is a perfectionist! I admired her tenacity. Meanwhile I worked on the cover design which I thought could be simple. I put in a beautiful design at the bottom and did everything by "eye-balling " it. This was a mistake because I had to call the printers to stop everything until I took over a better copy which was centered. Fortunately they hadn't gotten started yet. When I got there, the printer's associate yelled at me because I still didn't have it centered correctly so he did it over. I appreciated his caring to want my project right. It wasn't over yet. I had to make an entire new set of music for the general public to sing. This had to be in a lower key with just the melody line and a simple piano accompaniment that a guitarist could follow if they didn't have a pianist. Since I had already laid the foundation for the first set, this was easier to do and fortunately I had learned from my mistakes and even made a centered cover and this one I put 2 royal crowns on the cover to represent God's kingship on this earth through True Parents.
I made a condition to have printed 100 copies of anything I compose as an offering to God and True Parents. On July 27th, I was anticipating to pick up the 100 completed copies of the choral version, but I could only get 50 because of some trouble with the machines. It was just in time for the first rehearsal for both choirs the next day which was Saturday and Sunday for the KEA choir. On August 3rd, I picked up the final 50 copies of the choral version with piano accompaniment as well as 100 copies of "for the general public" version.
On August 8th, at 6 a.m., Father was suddenly talking so strongly about the Family Pledge and how we must focus on each one of them everyday and check whether we had accomplished what the pledge was saying. He spoke urgently and I knew this was the day for something important to happen. I knew I was one of the 3 sisters to go fishing that day so I ran home and changed to my jeans and grabbed the music, both versions, and bolted out the door and in my car and into East Garden. As I headed towards the waterfall room, Father was just coming out. I pulled out the music and Father seemed a little startled but I managed to say in Korean that the Family Pledge was finished. I showed him the choral version and general public version. Father looked at both and said one word, "Sign?" I said, one word, "Yes" and it was done. Mansei! Now it was ready for everybody to learn it because I had Father's approval.
Moonsook Choi's choir had already started practicing. Soon the WestRock choir heard about it and wanted also to learn it and now we are in the final stages and ready to perform it. Anybody who would like to order it, write to me by E-mail, email@example.com. You can also telephone me at (914) 591-8987. The choral version is $4 and the general public version is $3.
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