Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Yukon singer-songwriter Kim Beggs writes by the numbers

November 1, 2017 by Adam Boyle, staff writer

Sometimes a connection is all you need to inspire you. That’s exactly what happened for Yukon-based and Quebec-born folk singer Kim Beggs. Beggs says that the name of her new album, Said Little Sparrow, came from something that her mom used to say to her when she was little.

“‘Said little sparrow’ is part of something that my mother used to say to me when I was growing up,” says Beggs. “The whole thing was: ‘“Oh, woe is me,” said little sparrow.’ There are a few references to my mother throughout the album, so I felt like that was an appropriate title.”

Beggs’ love of music was always there, even when she was growing up (“I grew up on rock and roll but I don’t actually play it, even though it’s probably in there somewhere,” she says). She didn’t get into playing music until she had moved away and ended up connecting with other like-minded people.

Kim Beggs was born in Quebec but is now based in the Yukon (photo provided).

“I was always musical, even as a little kid. Probably what got me into music was when I moved to the Yukon and ended up buying myself a second-hand guitar, and then I ended up meeting other musical people in the Yukon. We’d all sit around a fire and share songs and stories,” says Beggs. “I think it was a very organic process, but most importantly I got into songwriting. It’s just something I do because I just have to write.”

Songwriting really appeals to Beggs; she says that one of the biggest problems that she and other songwriters struggle with is ending up with songs that all sound similar. Beggs gets around that in a couple of different ways.

“I wouldn’t say that songwriting is difficult, but I think that every songwriter has their own style, and if they aren’t careful and paying attention they might just make songs that all sound the same, mostly musically,” says Beggs. “One of the things that I do to avoid that is to do a lot of my album writing during the February Album Writing Month, which is a collection of musicians challenging themselves to write and be productive during the month of February. That really helps me to make sure each song sounds unique from one another.”

Beggs also says that she uses an old system that involves sorting her music with numbers. She says that the system has been around for years and is now one of the primary ways a lot of musicians write their music.

“When you translate your music into numbers, you can see your patterns better. I try to introduce new and creative chords as much as I can. There are only 12 notes in the scale, though, so that’s a challenge for any songwriter, to come up with a unique melody that hasn’t been done hundreds of times before,” says Beggs. “There’s something to be said about a really simple melody that is soothing for people to listen to, and, frankly, it’s because it’s familiar. People like to hear things that are familiar. Sometimes I use those familiar chords, and sometimes I like to push myself a little further.”

Kim Beggs
7:30 pm Sunday, November 5
$7, Norway House
victoriafolkmusic.ca

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