Original music from Australian Composer, Rosie Williams

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Exorcising ghosts from the past

Going back into music means triumphing over the past. This journey into the past where it all began.

About 14th Aug 2021

In a world that is in turmoil, making music has become my happy place. I welcome you into this space where I share the creations that are helping me define a new sense of who I am, or, perhaps more accurately, to re-embrace the musician I was as a child who got lost along the pathway to my destiny.

I won the NSW Band Association championship for trumpet when I was 13, I studied with a teacher from the Sydney Conservatorium - who later became a Department Head - before my life took a different path which saw me became a mother at the age of nineteen.

I taught my son AMEB grades across piano, violin and theory despite his coordination difficulties. At the age of ten, he entered the Sydney Eisteddfod's composition section the first year it ran and was judged (and given an award) by Maestro Tommy Tycho who had also conducted the concert band I performed in as a child at the Pan Pacific Music Camp as a teenager.

My son's homeschooled musical education ended with grade 4 musicianship at the age of ten or eleven after which I gave him the option of giving it up becuase he embarked on university at the age of twelve studying programming online with RMIT.

He transferred to oncampus at UNSW when he was fifteen though left after the first semester to work full time as a professional programmer just before he turned sixteen. Having lost my own dreams at such an early age I worked doubley hard to ensure my son achieved his own dreams.

During our time together, my son and I completed many projects, one of which was an extensive music theory site covering grades 1-5 music theory and musicianship curriculum resources, the implementation of which included midi files at a time when online learning was considered experimental at best. Our coupe de grat was a four-part cadence harmony checker which both played the cadences and provided feedback on all points from whether individual parts were out of range to whether the wrong notes were doubled or consecutive 5ths were present.

This was a time when the concept of homeschooling was not, as it is now, part of mainstream consciousness and online learning of any subject much less music theory was looked upon with suspicion, if not contempt. Being at the forefront of educational music technology proved too radical an idea for the music teachers of the early noughties and the very extensive and innovative project was abandoned.

In fact I pretty much gave up music (again) for decades until the 2020 lockdowns when I began questioning whether I wanted to spend the rest of my life they way I had spent the previous decades. I tried to figure out what I might actually enjoy doing given the limitations imposed not only by the pandemic but my own lifetime of poverty and eventually decided to try music again.

I found, much to my irony that not only had attitudes to technology changed radically over the intervening decades but so had attitudes to music theory itself. The old fusty attitudes and technophobia seemed to be a thing of the past and when I discovered Digital Audio Workstations, the software that effectively puts an orchestra or rockband at your fingertips I began composing practically overnight.

Of course there is a lot of learning that has to take place to make music technology work but my years as a programmer and data analyst seem to have trained me to take these things in my stride (give or take the odd meltdown) and the rest is history.

Now that my life has finally come full circle back to music, I'd like to think that the past decade spent coding has nurtured the skills facilitating my musical composition, thus providing some closure to me on the devastating loss of everything music represented to me as a teenager.

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