If Heaven and Hell Decide That They Both Are Satisfied, I’ll Go to College
Creating something from nothing is one of the most incredible things humans can do, although the Law of Conservation of Mass would disagree. On a chilly November night last year, I created something beautiful, successful, and heartbreaking. I arranged I Will Follow You Into the Dark, originally by Death Cab for Cutie, for my high school a cappella group.
The blank digital sheet music stared at me, tempting me to try making music. I sat at my keyboard, desperately trying to figure out how to create a syncopated choir line carrying the rhythm and sensitivity of the mellow acoustic guitar in the original recording. Once I interpreted it as best I could, I entered that first eighth note into the alto line – a D. The piece grew into a delicious five-part concoction. The twists and turns of the song were elegant yet simple. I could not wait to start molding this piece into something wonderful.
Only $13.90 / page
After looking through the arrangement, I realized it sounded great, but something was missing. The backup lines danced splendidly, but halfway into the song, it became boring. It was forgettable, the worst thing an arrangement can be. A flash of inspiration came to me. Make it a duet! A boy would sing the first verse, a girl would sing the second, and the third would explode into gorgeous harmony. I sang along with the piece at least six times, trying to build the best rich blend for the third verse. Finally, something clicked. I notated the line I invented. Using my software’s playback feature, I listened to everything I had done. Never have I loved the standard MIDI piano output so much; the harsh digital sound somehow filled me with satisfaction. I had done it. I crafted a version of a popular song that my ensemble could perform.
We performed the song numerous times between its debut in February and year end show in June. Our senior manager said it was his favorite song we crooned all year. At our last show with 2010-2011 crew, I swear I saw a tear in his eye, although I know he’d never admit it. My mom cried at the debut of the song, but she’s my mom, so that probably doesn’t say much. Singing with my friends, performing the duet with my best friend, it was probably the happiest moment of my life. Music does that.
I’ve always been bad at finishing things: projects, songs, arrangements, college essays; nonetheless, I finished I Will Follow You Into the Dark. Music is everything to me, I breathe it. The arrangement wasn’t groundbreaking, but it was good. Before this, I wasn’t anything remarkable as a person. People knew me, but I wasn’t the one getting leads in plays, I wasn’t performing at pep rallies, but that’s not true anymore. Arranging this piece changed me to be someone with more confidence and charisma. I am Devin McNulty, and I’m going to change the world with music, just like I changed my own life.