In September 1996 my sister went to secondary school for the first time.
The night before she started, we rented Forrest Gump, and we all loved it. I was captivated by the soundtrack – some songs I knew, some I would get to know.
The one that stood out though wasn’t a song at all, but an instrumental piece – the opening piano theme as the feather fell from the sky and landed beside Tom Hanks sitting on a bench in Savannah Georgia. Watch and listen here if you don’t remember.
I spent the whole of the following day hopping from the piano stool to the video player, rewinding and fast forwarding that scene, trying to figure out what those pretty notes were that had caught my ear the night before.
It was a key moment in my journey as a young musician – my first real transcription as such. Slowly but surely it came together, and probably as a result of the effort put in that day, the piece has stayed with me ever since.
Interestingly, I only figured out its true key recently. My piano was out of tune 24 years ago, so although the tune is in the key of G in the film, I learned it in the key of Aflat.
The version you’ll get on YouTube now is in a different key again – I won’t disclose it, as it’s one of the questions on the challenge faced by subscribers to my online tuition platform this week. Indeed they are currently in the midst of a two-week cycle in which we explore this piece thoroughly, learning about various features of and also how to play the piece. Email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you’re interested in finding out more.
Or if you want a detailed musical breakdown of the piece – read this article.
Like the main character of the film, the melody is simple and sweet. And although the piece as a whole is called the Forrest Gump Suite, this particular opening section is called simply ‘I’m Forrest…Forrest Gump’.
Here I am. This is the way I am and who I am. Take it or leave it.
Which as it turns out is good advice for anyone starting secondary school this week.