C Party and other news

Here’s a track I used in Terrel Grice’s UpShot as a very low background track for a party (the ‘C’ stands for classy).  I recorded it partly as a ‘keyboard test’ when I was hooking up my various different keys into my audio interface.  After everything was set up, I ended up liking it too much to just throw it away: so I used it in the short.  So, it’s a fairly rough take of just me messing around on different keyboards to a pretty simple loop, but I think it added a classier atmosphere to the scene.  It’s very chaotic and improvised, I figured it would be mixed in with loud background chatter.

In other news I’ve been earning another job title as Set Musician with the excellent musician Adiambo Riley and a few projects of his.  Hopefully, when his album drops I’ll be able to post a few previews of some tracks I helped out on.  It’s very cool stuff, stay tuned!


Tree of Life Suite (rough)

Here’s a little something I’ve been working on recently to just get some musical fresh air.  It’s one of the main themes I was planning on using for a concept album one of these days called Tree of Life.  The theme is based around this mental image of mine centered in a forest.  Within the forest lies the great tree of life (or really rather the tree of knowledge, but that just doesn’t have such a nice ring to it).  Anyways, the entire forest burns to ash.  I remember my parents taking me to Yellowstone Park when I was a kid and I saw the entire section of forest that had been completely burnt.  They said that the park just let it burn because that was the natural thing.  The entire forest was grey and barren, but there were pictures of areas where life was starting to slowly creep back and begin the process all anew.  I guess that is what it is like with generations, worldview, and outlook on the world.  There is a great forest of knowledge that grows every generation surrounding a core ‘tree of life’.  When a new life born it can either live as one of the trees or by struck by the lightning of new ideology in which case part, or all, of the forest of knowledge will be reduced to ash.  But even though the forest appears to be gone, it’s remnants still exist in the life of the new forest, the whole thing begins again.

Well, that was what was going on in my mind as I was writing, hope you like this rough mix!

Hot Cognition: Grow Your Peace

I’ve been thinking a lot about the ol’ prog band recently, so I decided to post another little tid-bit about one of our tracks.  This one is “Grow Your Peace” one of the tracks off of Merchants & Liars I wrote the music and lyrics to.  The very first, and the most central, thing I remember about writing this song is playing the piano in the practice basement at Hendrix College’s Trieschman Hall.  The piano line was based around this ‘hill’ shaped motif that changed ‘hands’ (or which part) played it.  You can hear it in the interchange between the piano and guitar: they alternate which one is playing it, and which one is playing a 3 note broken chord over it.  The next thing I added to the song was the bass line that comes in at the very end (originally throughout the whole song) which polymeters with the other instruments (you can hear it play 4 notes per measure against the feel of 6).

The lyrics actually just developed from that; They just came to me as I thought about the shape of the notes on staff paper.

The rest of it is my usual embellishments, contrary motion, counter-point, modal stuffs yada yada yada

Anyways, big kudos to Jack Bruno for singing that incredible vocal that none of us in the band stand a chance of hitting.  Random note: the strings on the last note are actually playing the first notes of the next track–Merchants & Liars

8bits of memories: Penultimate Fantasy

Here’s a track I really loved making, this is a ‘battle theme’ I wrote for a short film ‘8bit hero’ directed by John G. Hammond Jr.  The short is an obvious nod to video games: which was right up my alley.  Video game composers like Nobuo Uematsu, Yasonori Mitsuda, and Yoko Shimomura are probably very much responsible for my love of soundtracks in general.  There is just something magical about the video game music niche–loops of catchy contrapuntal synthesis that were forced to be something great because of the limitations of the hardware.  If you’ve played Megaman before I’m sure you know exactly what I just meant.

Anyways, this song was an obvious nod to the early battle themes of Nobuo Uematsu for the Final Fantasy series.  I framed the song as an homage to the iconic baseline of the Final Fantasy series (used in every battle music incarnation of Final Fantasy I-VI).  The limited polyphony of NES music was surely it’s greatest strength.  You don’t find an abundance chords in old NES songs, just counterpoint and deft arpeggiation: I wanted to preserve and expand on this in this composition.

The voices themselves are all synthesized with this great little free plugin called Magical8bitplugin (click the link if you want it).  So think raw square and triangle waves, pure noise for the drums (I’m so addicted to old NES synth drums).  I enjoyed making this song so much I reincarnated it with real instruments and used it as the credit roll (below).

Hope you enjoy these tracks as much as I enjoyed making them!