“Glorious” – one of my favorite songs, still to this day! When “Glorious”, written and originally sung by Stephanie Mabey, came out in all its David Archuleta amazingness, I thought, “Oh! If could get my hands on the license or an opportunity ever came up, I would LOVE to perform this and perhaps record it!” I didn’t have a translation yet but I just knew I loved the message!
Not long after “Glorious“ was released, the big announcement came! David Archuleta and “Meet the Mormons” invited everyone and anyone to submit videos performing “Glorious” for a chance to take part in a Fan Supercut video! Here was my opportunity! There was little sleep for me that night. ALL night I was dissecting, thinking, translating, and then running it by Ryan and then more of it all.
For me, most of my song translations and dissections take a good amount of time. It’s not just the words but its the musicality, the timing, the expressions, the thoughts behind my choices, and more. Some songs take more time than others – and “Glorious” was no exception! The lyrics are amazing but the challenge came from the meaning behind the words, for example the analogy between “symphony” and “life”. I had to figure out what I thought they meant and how I could convey them. I still had to consider creating something beautiful and meaningful, musically and visually, while still making sense in ASL. Of course, there really is no one-and-only right translation or interpretation, because the end result would come from the eyes of the beholder, and each of us have different thoughts of what it would mean and how we’d want to convey that.
But for me it wasn’t about a “symphony” or musical melodies- it’s not about using your ears to hear anything – it is about this grander thing we called life and realizing that we all play a great part in it individually but yet all together. And through it all, we are discovering who we really are. As we dig deep, we realize that there is greatness there! There is power! There is a divine glory! That’s what I needed to convey — somehow!
When it came to the verses, I initially thought they were pretty cut and dry. I had a basic know-how of what I wanted to convey. It wasn’t until near the end of filming that my “cut and dry” idea really evolved into more. However, it was the chorus that I spent the most time on from start to end. There was a lot of prayer and thought and pen marks on paper, deep research with the dictionary, thesaurus and Google. (The photo of my lyric breakdown – scribbles and scratches – was taken at the beginning of the dissection period.)
For people who don’t understand the language of ASL, it’s hard to just give you even a rough “gloss” (meaning what it is I signed – sign for sign, expression, etc) and have you walk away and understand what I really meant by it. So, I typed out a very rough gloss, if you will, really more like a very rough translation. It’s hard to put on paper what is meant in this visual language – ASL – because so much is incorporated – it’s not just a sign = a word. You can interpret ASL and include so much more because of the things you can use your voice to create… anyways, keep that in mind while you are reading it. This is just to give you an idea of what I meant by my performance. (I hope you understand what I’m trying to say. Ha) … Anyways, you can click on the picture and once enlarged, you can read the “Glorious” lyrics on the left and on the right are the English verbiage of my final translations. I’d encourage you to read that and watch my final video at the same time, so you can see how each part came together. Sure, as you read what is written, you’ll see that the lyrics and my meanings come out to mean the same thing (that’s of course what my goal was) but it comes down to what it is I conveyed and how I decided to do it – because if I signed “symphony” that is not what was intended and the purpose of the message would have been lost.
Once I have a pretty good idea of what it is I want to sign and how to convey it, I begin recording myself. For this piece, I recorded several times and then I watched it back – sometimes after a bulk number of recordings, sometimes after each time. Tweaking was almost constant – sometimes I’d end up changing out whole entire parts. This process of tweaking and rerecording went on for quite some time. The next day I got dressed up and makeup on and I was ready to record. I practiced some more and then went to the studio. At that point, I still didn’t feel my translation was final. Counting up the number of times I recorded in the studio that day, meaning stop and start, was a whopping 24 times! One of those clips lasted 10 seconds and another lasted 38 minutes and 43 seconds (no stopping just letting the camera roll through each take). I looked over a few of those videos and I could feel the desperation I was experiencing to get it right. I remember there was one part that I would forget how I wanted to set it up and each time it came to that part, I would mess up and have to start all over. During the time I was waiting for the music to begin again I would rehearse it over and over. It had only been one day since the announcement but I wanted to get it done as quick as I could, and at the same time, I didn’t want to deviate from the translation that I came up with – unless it just didn’t work, then I would change it. To you it may seem like I’m a perfectionist for the number of takes I did. To me, not so. But I’m sure you can relate — when you’re in your element, and it’s something you feel deeply about, you’ll only settle for your best, especially when you know you can do it. That was me. That’s what I wanted. Desperately. I wanted my translation right, I wanted it to flow, I wanted the expressions and feelings there, I wanted my timing right. I kept on going.
Green Screen Diversion: I decided to use a green screen in the shot and not change out the background for a couple of reasons. The first reason: The night of the announcement, after I finally decided to go to sleep, I had a dream. In my dream I was filming “Glorious” — that’s how it goes when you’re so consumed, right?! Ha. Well, in my final video I had used a green screen and left it as is. Cool, eh? Ha. Some of you are probably thinking what I was thinking … you don’t have to always do what your dreams tell you. Well, the next day as I was recording, I really felt that leaving the background green, albeit wrinkled, was what I needed to do. Let the message pop with the brightness, yet simplicity of the color, regardless of how imperfect it is. That’s what I decided to do. I still somewhat cringe at my wrinkled background, but then I let it go. I am not perfect. I am on a journey, just like the rest of the world. I am here to find my purpose. So are you. Let the little things go – and for me, that day, it was my green screen.
Although I was recording over and over again, I was still tweaking as I was going along. For example, the part in the chorus: “Everyone plays a piece, And there are melodies.” (For reference sake: A melody in musical terms is the principle part of the music in a harmonic composition. Meaning, there may be a lot going on but through it all, there is an underlying part that most of us, if not all, can recognize.) There are two pictures below. In the picture with my hair up, I was recording during practice. In the picture with my hair down, I was filming in studio – the final day. If you’ll notice in the practice shot how my hands are placed almost directly over one another. In the final they are not – they are overlapping only two fingers. To me, that slight change of hands was very important. Here is why: Many of us share similar experiences or backgrounds with others, while others have gone through the same exact experience as another person – but regardless of our experiences and who we shared them with, we do not experience life the same way. It is true that we can have empathy for others or share experiences in which we can say “been there done that” but none of us have lives that play out exactly like each other. That is the melody, or underlying part, that most of us (if not all) can recognize, while the rest of life plays on around us. (Full hand – experience all the same regardless of our lives; Two fingers – experience our own life but still share in many experiences). So, this slight difference in my hands is how I decided to portray that meaning in my translation. (Are you following me? … I do hope so. Smile)
By the end of the first full day, I still did not have the recording I wanted to put out. I decided to rest and let it be for the night. I prayed all night. The next day I got back up and went to the studio. I was still praying for help! I began recording, and again, looking back at those videos, I can see the hope, plead and desperation between takes. Between the last two takes, with the camera still rolling, a prayer was offered. And then I just paused and regrouped myself. There was a big breath and then I moved forward to start the music again. That last take was the video that I decided to release. I believe in this message. I believe that we all, everyone, whether we understand or not quite all the way, learning or are there, are in a journey of discovery. Discovering the purpose of life. Discovering our purpose in life.
What I learned most from this experience was that we just gotta keep going. It’s not easy sometimes. It can be frustrating, to say the least, but on the flip, it can and will be absolutely beautiful and glorious! Discovering who we are is the quest at hand. Keep going. That goes for you, and that goes for me!
I hope you know that there is a loving Heavenly Father who loves and cares deeply for you. Discovering and rediscovering that simple truth is one of the most profound things we will ever experience. That is what makes life so absolutely glorious and beautiful. We were born with that divine glory – finding it is all part of the journey.
Sweet peace and happiness to you always!
P.P.S. If you haven’t watched “Meet the Mormons” yet – perhaps you are not Mormon (LDS) yourself, I’d like to invite you to watch it. It’s not about converting anyone. It’s about showing that each of us are in the same boat. We’re here on this glorious creation we call Earth, learning to discover who we are. I cried. I laughed. I thought long and hard. It is a beautiful movie! www.MeettheMormons.com (The pictures below, along with two in the body of this post, were taken from the official “Glorious” music video/”Meet the Mormons” movie.)