The songs worth writing are the ones I’ll want to sing over & over. Those that set the tone I want in my life.

Pamela Holm (read more)

Pamela was a songwriter. She wrote songs to sing for people, she wrote songs to sing with people, and she wrote songs for herself as music therapy.

I’ve cataloged over 100 pieces of music that have at least a completed hand-written first draft with melody, lyrics and chords. I’ve posted the recordings I’ve found (some rough, some in studio), and am adding lyrics and sheet music as I find them. Most songs do not have recordings, however, so I’m playing them through to get a feel for them, sometimes filling in chords, and writing the sheet music by computer before posting them. I have had recordings made of some of the songs by musician friends.

There were many songs that Pamela probably never sang in public. Performing wasn’t her main focus in recent years when she was working hard at establishing her music therapy practice. But songwriting for Pam was a form of journalling, so it continued.

The melodies are original and all different. The words are meaningful. The bridges are essential to the song, never superfluous. She wasn’t afraid of modulation or bar chords. Every song is a discovery for me.

I find it interesting to see how her songwriting evolved over the years. The original songs she recorded in 1990 (see below) were a jazzy pop, but after that, she seems to have settled into more of a romantic folk style. Then in the latter part of the 2000 decade, her spiritual development was accompanied by more spiritually-oriented songs and chants for singing with groups. She was also involved with a children’s church choir and wrote songs for it. The spiritual theme continued in the next few years with some very personal expressions of her inner experience.

Some of her songs would be more suited for choirs than coffeehouses, which isn’t surprising as Pam was usually singing in one or another of Canada’s top chamber choirs.

Her lyrics were as important as the melodies. She wrote poetry that she didn’t set to music. But she also put music to poetry written by others, from her mother to St Teresa of Ávila, as her beloved Schubert had done with the poems of Goethe. In the last years, she was really yearning to work closely with other musicians to develop her music. April 2019 saw her perform two new serious pieces (this and this) as part of a trio. She was so much looking forward to more of that, and talked to me about wanting to make space for it in her life.

One thing on Pamela’s bucket list was to have her songs sung by other people. That we can do! – HH

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