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Let’s Paint a Cloud

Sharon McGauly is an amazingly talented painter and a friend of mine. She started and stars in a delightful web series teaching the art of painting. I composed this theme for her to use in the opening of each episode.

Sharon’s work has a wonderful, whimsical style and her approach in this web series is friendly and light hearted. With the right amount of “anyone can do this.” attitude thrown in. Her goal is to open the world of painting up to anyone interested in picking up a brush and giving it a go.

With this in mind, I set out to compose a short piece equally friendly and approachable. Something with a lift and bounce in its step. Reminiscent of a trip through Mr. Rodgers’ Neighborhood, perhaps.

Carrying the load for us is the simple little melody. It doesn’t try to be anything other than a nice little tune. Something you may find yourself humming throughout the day.

Instrumentation for the melody includes a mix of acoustic piano, ukulele, and alto flute. I love to add flute in this way. Talk about adding color. The flute has the ability to blend in with other instruments and add to the flavor without being recognized as a flute. Same with the Uke. The plucking of the strings gives the initial attack of each note a percussive boost. The idea was to balance them in a way to almost create a new instrument, one both familiar and a bit new.

I opted to play only the melody on the piano – no left hand chords. Better to keep a light, breezy openness to support the melody. I did try using upper register block chords, one per measure, but felt it was getting heavy and not allowing the melody to breathe.

The guitar strums take over for the missing piano chords. The guitar adds a nice color to the piece. It’s happy and cheerful and compliments the melody without getting in the way. Our guitar here is doing double-duty (something guitars are great for) providing both the harmonic and rhythmic foundation for our melody. No percussion or drums are needed. I did a version with triangle and a shaker but decided the piece is stronger without these added elements.

Acoustic Stand-Up Bass fills out the bottom end with a simple playing style. Our bass occasionally reinforces the rhythm but doesn’t get too busy. Simplicity is what is called for here.

The finished cue is pretty straight ahead but I think it works well with picture and helps set the friendly tone of the series.

A big thank you to Sharon for allowing me to work on this theme and for teaching us how to paint a cute little cloud. Please visit her site at

Here’s Sharon opening Theme

Reaper Session (click to enlarge)

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