The Ice Cream Man

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The Ice Cream Man

After I finished Dreamboat, I was satisfied with the results – not bad for a beginner! But I felt it was a bit too structured. I wanted to move more towards free melodic play, and orchestral effects rather than the straight polyphony I used in Dreamboat.

Now I was really out of my depth, but I gave it a shot. I used a  classical Orchestra, but brought in an Organ, a Harp, and 2 Guitars as the music required (that's why it's called "the Ad Hoc Orchestra").

In this case, the music portrays the experience of an Ice Cream Man in his ice cream truck. Sometimes he is struggling in brutal city traffic, on his way to the right suburban neighborhoods. Sometimes he is trolling down the suburban streets looking for kids with his little ice cream tune playing into the air. At one point a flying bug gets into his truck and he manages to swat it, feeling guilty afterwards because he had to kill it (but what can you do?).

After I got this finished on June 19, 2010, I was told there is a movie called The Ice Cream Man, about a lunatic who makes new flavors-of-the-month from irritating children’s body parts. I am not responsible for other people’s ideas about the ice cream man. He was a magic figure to me when I was a little boy and I heard his truck coming jingling down the street. He seemed to come from a higher world, distribute ice cream to the children, and return to that unknown Mount Olympus from which all ice cream flows. I was pretty young … Anyway, that’s the Ice Cream Man I was writing about – so there. Pop culture is so weird sometimes!

The song ends in a way that’s hard to understand unless you get the exalted view I held of this popular figure when I was very small. The children gather around the back of the truck, and as he drives off they chase him down the street, shouting for him to come back. But he leaves the ground, drives up into the air and takes off into the sky. The children follow him up into the sky, shouting for him to wait, they want more ice cream. The momentum of his drive back to the higher world from which he came just sweeps them right along with him.

The little tune his truck plays to attract buyers, which sounds like a children’s song, is a triple canon, played first as one voice, then as a duet with itself, then as a trio with itself. This is not a created artifact – it was channeled.

I heard the melody and wrote it into Sibelius. The angelic Spirit I work with then suggested that I make the melody a counterpoint to itself, in the form of a round or “canon.” She showed me which note to start on so the canon would work. It was several measures into the first rendition of the melody. I put the same melody in, starting at that note, and the melody fitted together perfectly with itself into a canon.

She then showed me how to lay the melody over itself starting at a different point. Finally, She showed me that it can be a triple canon. I copied it into Sibelius in these designs and the canon sounds like it was all constructed with great care. But it wasn’t, at least not by any human being in the flesh.

This more or less represents how the whole thing was written. I heard music in my mind, copied it down, and then heeded the guidance of my guardian angel to develop it into orchestral music. It’s a little facile to say that I “wrote” it – rather, I heard it, copied it, and was shown how to complete it by a disembodied Spirit. You could say we wrote it together, but I repeat that this music is way over my head, and quite frankly, I would have no idea how to write either this or Dreamboat. The whole thing surprised me so much it was a year before I wrote another orchestral piece. It was a little scary back then, although I have “composed” over three hundred pieces that way since 2008, and I guess I did get used to it along the way.