London-based musician and composer using the power of music to process grief releases final single in a series of seven
Douglas MacGregor, award-winning composer and guitarist, was seven years old when he lost his mother to cancer.
One month before her death, on Douglas’ seventh birthday, his mother gifted him a guitar. After her death, the guitar gathered dust in his room. Although five years later Douglas did pick it back up, the guitar was a personal passion that he indulged in private.
Twenty-five years later, having been anchored only by music throughout his teens and twenties, MacGregor finally succumbed to grief; the result of which is Songs of Loss and Healing, a seven-part instrumental series, with accompanying music videos, which takes the listener on MacGregor’s personal journey of delayed grief.
Says Douglas, “I always told myself I was making art for art’s sake, but in truth creation was highly therapeutic. When times were tough, without exception, I would turn to my guitar. It was a space that awoke and channelled complex, contradictory emotions and allowed me to come to terms with them. I always found catharsis and meaning through music; often, music felt like the only meaningful pursuit.”
The final instalment in the series, New Beginnings, is released on 22 October and is about processing memories relating to grief, and beginning a new, emotionally awoke life.
“I’ve heard it said that you might find the key for healing in the abyss, at the darkest point of your journey. The idea for New Beginnings was a little seed I found and planted at the furthest point into my grief, only to come back later to recognise what it was,” said Douglas, speaking from his home in London.
The musician roughly recorded a section of New Beginnings at his home before beginning the Songs of Loss and Healing project. Months later, in need of a final piece for the series, he rediscovered the piece. As he finished writing New Beginnings, Douglas started to incorporate themes and patterns from the first six pieces, rearranging them into the new music.
He considers New Beginnings to be the piece that finally stops looking inward, as all other pieces from the series did, and starts to look outward at the world; but New Beginnings looks outwardly informed and supported by musical themes from all those pieces that helped firmly reconstruct a healthier inner world.
Douglas describes the way that he plays the beginning of the piece “as though with the fragility of a seedling slowly gradually unfurling”. New Beginnings, after some struggles, then reaches what to Douglas is a brief glimpse of a transcendent moment beyond the struggles, a fleeting instant where everything aligns, where he is filled with the thrill of being alive, and everything appears in new light.
The full list of singles in the Songs of Loss and Healing series:
The Well and the Flood, released 15 February 2019
From the Murk, released 15 March 2019
Song for Lost Childhood, released 25 April 2019
The Pathway, released 30 May 2019
The Stowaway’s Voyage, released 29 June 2019
Grasping the Wind, released 23 September 2019
New Beginnings, released 22 October 2019
New Beginnings is the seventh and final release in the Songs of Loss and Healing series. The series aims to raise awareness of the power of music in times of loss.
Douglas MacGregor will perform Songs of Loss and Healing at Thursday, 14 November 2019 from 19:30-21:30 at The Old Church, Church Street, Stoke Newington, London,
N16 9ES. Tickets can be purchased on Eventbrite.