Songwriting: A Profession Or Inspiration

 

By Paul Chong
A Chinese by Descent
An Australian by Consent
Saturday, 28 July 2018

William Shakespeare was a great sonnet writer. A sonnet is a poem in a specific form which originated in Italy; Giacomo da Lentini is credited with its invention. The term sonnet is derived from the Italian word sonetto.

There are many types of sonnets. Traditionally, the sonnet is a fourteen-line poem written in iambic pentameter, which employ one of several rhyme schemes and adhere to a tightly structured thematic organization.

Today, talking about songwriting, we probably think more of the likes as McCartney, Sir Paul, John Lennon, Sir Elton John, ABBA, the Carpenters Bee Gees & a host of others.

It is said that:
▪ If a song genuinely expresses your feelings, then it’s a good song. It doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks.
▪ If a song expresses your feelings AND touches other people, moves them emotionally, or gets them on the dance floor – that’s a  good song with the potential to become a HIT.
To me, songwriting is essentially a touch of inspiration, devoid of musical knowledge or training. It’s an inspiration that consumes your whole being & within minutes a song is born to be sung & enjoyed by all. A song could stir your imagination, make your heart to take flight, make you joyous or sad – & that would be a good song.

 

I am no songwriter, though I do write quite a bit of poems. Here is below one song I attribute mainly to God’s inspiration: “Without Thee”

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If as man remains in me& I in him, he will bear much fruit; party from me you can do nothing.” – John 15:5

The lyrics . . .

What will we ever be without Thee
We are all but empty vessels indeed
Without Thee there can’t be any destiny
Only with Thy Sipirit will our bondage be free.

Chorus:
Glory, glory, glorious GodOnly with Thy love
Only with Thy grace
Will we know our fate.

Without Thee nothing will be possible
Nor fruit, nor life, nor spirit of survival
For Thou art the the vine weer’re just the branches
Only with Thy Spirit we’ll be free from the crunches.

Copyright 1992. All rights reserved.

Advertisements

Living In Australia

 

cropped-img_4458-version-2

Paul Chong                                                                   Thursday, 14 December 2017

 

In a word, living in Australia is great . . . “a lucky country” in the downunder world, geographically speaking that is. Everything else is top of the world . . . rich in natural resources, largest continental island in the world, beautiful weather with sun, surf & sand for fun lovers, good first class education, opportunities for one & all in a truly cosmopolitan nation. Most importantly, fairness is practised in true meritocratic way.

I am a Chinese by descent . . . an Australian by consent. My family & I have been in Perth, Western Australia since 1982, that is more than quarter of my life. It is indeed a fortunate life with my three offsprings all acquiring tertiary education from a PhD holder, a specialist medical doctor to a civil engineer.

Though born & bred in Malaysia, I could never consider myself a Malaysian because of the non meritocratic system of extreme corrupt government since independence from British colonial rule. Every non Malay race is marginalised in all aspects of human endeavour & life. Needless for me to go into any detail of the ongoing unfairness & injustice upon looking back & looking in from outside. There’s no meritocracy but sheer  “democrazy”. Brain drain from the country is no surprise. What’s Malaysia’s loss is gain to countries like Singapore, Australia, US, UK & Canada.

Everyone wants & deserves a good life, but not to expect & demand on hand-outs, for that would be tantamounting to living on your knees rather than dying on your feet. You’ve got to work, not only working hard but working smart as well. Work is God’s design for our natural living.

In Australia the aged are well taken of. Medical care can be said to be par excellence. All possible help are extended to make life of the aged comfortable & safe. Under the scheme known as Home & Community Care (HACC), there are organisations offering facilities to take good care of you, especially as the song goes “When you grow too old to dream, you’d have them to remember”.

Really, old people can keep on living in their own home, best place to be, rather than to scale down moving to units or aged homes, unless it is absolutely necessary. If you are living alone, Red Cross provides visitor service whereby a visitor would come by on a regular basis to keep you company, have a chat with you, have tea or a game of card, or take you out shopping or medical appointments. Other organisations also provide such a service & other home services as well like domestic cleaning, minor home maintenance, gardening.

There’s that Triple A Care (Australian Asian Aged Care Program) with multiple home & community care services. Charges for the services are subsidised & all that is required is $8 per hour.

TADWA’s (Technology Assisting Disability WA) purpose is to improve the quality & enjoyment of life for people with disabilities, older people & those caring for them through the application of technology & the skills of volunteers & staff. For our home, they came & installed safety railings for our steep driveway, front & back garden steps. All we need pay pay is for the materials.

In the case of Chorus (its old name Volunteer Task Force) apart from providing gardening service & other domestic services, organises outings to places of interest & lunches. I am particularly impressed by their friendliness,helpfulness with extreme care & attention.`The staff & the team of volunteers are about the nicest people you will ever meet. A stranger is but a friend you have not met. You can have hundreds of friends`but none near you or ever in sight, you might just as well be by yourself.

Old habits die hard. Nothing like living the life you are so accustomed to`. . . free & easy to be living in your own home.`A man’s home is his castle, however modest or otherwise.`

In the final analysis, I wish the best for all Malaysians. I would further add by quoting what the DAP leader Lim Kit Siang said: ” If we love Malaysia, we must unite as Malaysian patriots to save Malaysia from corruption, kleptocracy, injustices, exploitation and the fate of a third-world nation”.““““`“““““““““

Social Progress Index – A New Standard to Rank Societies

Michael Green

Michael Green

Michael Green has created the Social Progress Index, a standard to rank societies based on how they meet the needs of citizens.

A better & revolutionary way to evaluate the “Well-Being” of a society.

SPI based on 3 components
SPI based on 3 components

In his book Philanthrocapitalism (co-authored with Economist business editor Matthew Bishop), Michael Green defined a new model for social change built on partnerships between wealthy businesses, governments and community organizations. Shortly thereafter, Bishop floated the idea of a “Social Competiveness Index,” the idea that one day countries would compete with one another to be the most socially advanced, in the same way as they now compete to be economic top dog. Green loved it and decided to turn it into reality.

Teaming up with Avina’s president Brizio Biondi-Morra, Sally Osberg of the Skoll Foundation and many other thought leaders from businesses and foundations, he began work on what would become the Social Progress Imperative, of which he’s now CEO. Later they were joined by Harvard management guru Michael E. Porter, who became chairman of the SPI’s advisory board. The first Social Progress Index was published this year.

Ranking of Countries based on SPI
Ranking of Countries based on SPI

The term Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is often talked about as if it were “handed down from god on tablets of stone.” But this concept was invented by an economist in the 1930s, (& IT’S KIND OF BECOMING IRRELEVANT IN THE 21ST CENTURY). We need a more effective measurement tool to match 21st century needs, says Michael Green: the Social Progress Index. With charm and wit, he shows how this tool measures societies across the three dimensions that actually matter (See Chart Below). And reveals the dramatic reordering of nations that occurs when you use it.

TED- Social Progress Index

Listen to what he has to say about Social Progress Index at TED Talk on

11 November 2014

http://www.ted.com/talks/michael_green_what_the_social_progress_index_can_reveal_about_your_country?utm_source=newsletter_daily&utm_campaign=daily&utm_medium=email&utm_content=button__2014-11-11

The Lake District of England

By P Chong

“Daffodils” (1804)

“I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud” (also commonly known as Daffodils” or “The Daffodils”)

I WANDER’D lonely as a cloud

That floats on high o’er vales and hills,

When all at once I saw a crowd,

A host, of golden daffodils;

Beside the lake, beneath the trees,

Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine

And twinkle on the Milky Way,

They stretch’d in never-ending line

Along the margin of a bay:

Ten thousand saw I at a glance,

Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced; but they

Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:

A poet could not but be gay,

In such a jocund company:

I gazed — and gazed — but little thought

What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie

In vacant or in pensive mood,

They flash upon that inward eye

Which is the bliss of solitude;

And then my heart with pleasure fills,

And dances with the daffodils.

By William Wordsworth (1770-1850).

At the time of the poem, Wordsworth lived with his wife and sister at Dove Cottage, in Grasmere in England‘s Lake District.

A map of the Lake District (Cumbria) in England

As I fastrack into my college days in England, one of the most beautiful places that I visited & roamed is the Lake District to the north of Liverpool. In those days, we poor students hitch-hiked quite a lot in our travels. It was pretty safe & in this particular case, all it took was one hitch ride from Liverpool & we were completely in a world of paradise beauty. Such was the inspirational surrounds of the famed English poet William Wordsworth who penned the above beautiful “Daffodils” poem.

As seen from the above map, there are many lakes in the District & because of time restriction, it was not possible for me to visit them all. Among those that I still remember fondly are Lake Windermere (the largest of all), Grasmere & Derwent Water. In Lake Windermere, I had the greatest boating pleasure. I failed however to find the field of daffodils which inspired Wordsworth.

I fell in love with the place so much that I visited the location even on weekends or short breaks covering & capturing the changing beauty of the place with the coming & going of different seasons of the year. Spring & Summer were great times to be there for roaming the hills & vales; Winter & Autumn with its colourful foliage & fallen leaves. It was there I had the experience of watching salmons fighting their way up the rapids to the upper reaches for their seasonal spawning.

Accommodation was cheap & convenient then. Apart from the Youth Hostels, there were the Bed & Breakfast type of accommodation which provided more comfort than the former.

This is indeed a treasured corner of England. Let your imagination roam with some of these beauty shots below:

Lake Windermere

Keswick

Northern Shore of L. Windermere

Hills & Vales to Roam – L. Windermere

Fog

Fog

SANY2106

From our home towards Perth City shrouded from sight.

It’s that time of the year before the coming of Spring in September that fogs abound up where we live in the hills. It rains off & on & the whole atmosphere is one of serenity & peace. Best time to lay back by the warm fire, read a book or watch the TV or sit at the computer desk & let your inspiration take hold.

Fog in the hills

Shrouding the view

Softening every nature

Hiding every creature.

The sky is grey

Blue’s gone astray

The light is dimly soft

Invisibility even above the turf.

The fog lingers on

Birds fill the air with song

It’s scene like this

That sets you at peace.

Such wonder makes you wonder

In your heart you ponder

As it gradually disperses

Light slowly emerges.

SANY2107Foggy scene at our backyard

Paul Chong

Thursday, 20 August 2009 @ 14.01

Huangshan (Yellow Mountain)

Huangshan (Yellow Mountain) is the prelude to James Cameron’s epic movie “Avatar”.

It was here that he got his inspiration for it, and that’s where landscape similarities exist.

By Paul Chong                                                                 

IMG_NEW

Huangshan stands supreme from amongst the five reputed mountains

of China – Taishan, Huashan, Hengshan & Songshan. These are all sacred mountains renowned for their scenic beauty. However, there’s an old saying well known throughout China “No need to see any other mountains after Huangshan!”

images-1greeting-pine.jpg

Huangshan derived its name from the famous Yellow Emperor who frequented the place as his retreat. Since ancient times, inspiration of artists, painters & poets has come alive in this southern Anhui Province of high mountains, rocks, pine & cedar trees, sea of clouds, snow & spectacular nature’s beauty. It is a majestic place of perpetual scenic beauty in all the seasons and is now listed in the UNESCO World Cultural and Natural Heritage.

A magnificent place with its spectacular vista & ever-changing scenes have drawn visitors from all over the world. Our son Andrew, a keen amateur photographer, has been there in all the four seasons. But winter is reputedly the best season to enjoy the sea of clouds & snowy scenery.

snow-huangshan5.jpg

In December 1998, we took the cable car up Huangshan & stayed the night. We couldn’t have chosen & imagined anything more freezing that night & day. Everywhere was covered with snow & ice. It was absolutely beautiful but frightfully cold & the cable car service stopped to function which was unexpected. The only way down the mountain was by foot. We were advised to purchase special spikes for our shoes if we were attempting to go down the mountain on foot as the trail & steps were icy & slippery. It was very risky & dangerous to say the least – the trail & steps had no side railing or protection. It could mean one slip & eternally down the steep ravine.

sunsets-on-huangshan01.jpg

images-3To a certain degree we were encouraged to see workers & labour transporters literally running up & down the mountain with the added weight of load strung over their shoulders. Most goods, foods & even building materials were transported by human labour in that fashion.

jade-screen-scenic-area.jpg

We reached the foot of Huangshan safe & sound with, however, days of ache & pain to remember the descent by. Fortunately, there was compensating gain in the sight of scenic beauty marking our journey with a sweet & bitter refrain. (Info Update: src=’http://player.cntv.cn/standard/cntvOutSidePlayer.swf?v=0.171.5.8.8.7′ type=’application/x-shockwave-flash’ lk_mediaid=’lk_juiceapp_mediaPopup_1257416656250′ lk_media=’yes’/>//

L I F E

L I F E

With “IF” in your life, you’ll never be satisfied!

ATT1

LIFE is beautiful and nothing’s wrong

L stands for LOVE song

I is the Inspiration we seek

F is the Freedom we preach

E means it’s Exciting

Which together makes LIFE a wonderful thing.

However, something’s not quite right

LIFE is spelt with “IF” of great might

IF I were rich and handsome

IF I were not meek but fearsome

Then I won’t be so lonesome

Must put the “IF” clear out of sight

Only then LIFE will be right.

Paul Chong


Inspiration Vs Perspiration

Inspiration Vs Perspiration

(By Paul Chong)

ATT00059A scene of beauty could be an inspiration for an artist or writer

On our Sydney/New Zealand cruise in December 2008, I saw a TV documentary on Alexandra Nechitaone of the most famous artists alive today. That’s quite an honour for one who was then just 12 years old. The story of Alexandra’s journey to where she is today takes on a storybook aura, starting at age four when her parents noticed Alexandra’s abstract and Picasso-like styles with four-eyed, two-faced figures. She saw Pablo Picasso’s work for the first time at the Los Angeles County Museum, where Alexandra’s first art exhibit came on April 1, 1994, when she was only eight years old, in a community library. Whoopi Goldberg may have explained Alexandra the best in just one sentence: ‘The thumbprint of the Great One is on her.”

There are many other child art prodigies like Nechita, but the profound thing about her when asked how she did it, she said,“I saw visions . . .” Now, would you call that divine inspiration? The age-old famous story of Thomas Edition, the greatest American inventor ever, had this to say: ”1% inspiration & 99% perspiration” on his success.

What constitutes inspiration? It’s defined as the process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something. It can come from anywhere – a person, an event, an environment, but essentially, if you believe, from God. Your mindset must be such as trained or equipped to be receptive, able to discern, seize & act upon the opportunistic insight without any tint of doubt & delay. It’s found to be most evident & powerful when the recipient has a deep rooted desire or is frustrated by tragic attempts of failure or similar.

In all these, there’s inherently a mix of the element of perspiration, which at the end of the day contribute proportionally more to the question of success. Inspiration is that little iota trigger shot that sets on the motivation. Ultimately, what ensue will need the interactive play of persistence, perseverance, tenacity, courage to bring on the final positive result.

Perspiration hence is the process of sweating it out. As life does not come by in a bed of roses, there will be thorns that prick causing pain & ache. In the field of human endeavour, the mind has to remain focussed & at peace & harmony with your thoughts and emotion. Any thought of seeking publicity or longing for the trappings of success will mean distraction more than motivation.

In the final analysis, nothing worth achieving come by in an easy way. Former Senator George Mitchell, the newly appointed US Envoy for the Middle East peace negotiation, is acclaimed for his negotiation skills in the peace settlement of Northern Ireland where the historic bombing & killing nearly broke his vast patience. He attributed his success to having the ability to outlast the 700 failures in the negotiation.

Yes, success will demand that special “Second Effort” as put forth by Vince Lombardi, the famous coach of Green Bay Packers.

Paul Chong

A Chinese by Descent

An Australian by Consent

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Aspire to Inspire . . . Before You Expire

Aspire to Inspire . . . Before You Expire

It’s having the ability to hitchhike by whatever possible means

all the way up to the sky – the sky being the limit.

(By Paul Chong)

In essence you are who you are, but depending on your life’s experiences, education, ambition & determination, & the career you have, you can, as the captain of your ship, steer yourself out of stormy seas towards the fulfilment of your dreams. We all live in a world of “dreams & aspirations”. There’s always the “greener pasture” yonder – no matter how nice a car you drive or a big house you live in, there’s that constant yearning for something even better. It’s the “betterment syndrome” I would say.

Aspiration, as can be seen, refers to the tangible or the materialistic things. Inspiration has to do with the intangible of things like driving the urge, filling the spirit with desire, the courage, tenacity, the determination & perspiration towards the attainment. Symbolically, aspiration is the cart drawn by the inspired horse.

A child first learns to crawl before learning to walk. By the same token, a leader must know or learn to aspire before he can have any credibility to lead & inspire. A good leader leads by his own personal example. In the process, the question of personification is thereby duplicated by his team. Heroes are held in high esteem & placed on pedestals because of their aspiring great deeds. People emulate heroes not cowards.

It’s not easy to stay inspired all the time. Life is full of twists & turns, ups & downs, and the motivational battery runs low depriving you of the steam to propel you on. By & large the world is negative. You can’t help yourself being constantly bombarded by negative thoughts. The road of least resistance finds the less courageous dropping out along the way. If the thought of giving it all up cropped into your mind, just remember what Thomas Edition had to say about success: “One percent inspiration . . . ninety-nine percent perspiration”.

It’s time like this when you are feeling dull & down, discouraged & frustrated, losing your confidence . . . that you need to renew or rejuvenate yourself. By renewing & recharging yourself with focus on your vision, goal & dream, & the vital ingredient of a burning desire, you then venture on. There’s no turning back!ATT7_2

You take bath everyday. Though the freshness & exhilaration of the bath wear off in time, that does not stop you from further baths. Motivation & inspiration is the same. Like they say, when the going gets tough, the tough gets going!