Today, Jan 15 2015 we approved the final master. It has been an all consuming experience since we first posted here, Sept 2013. We began this project with the intention of allowing ourselves time; time to find the optimum ways of recording our array of found sounds; time to build the perfect arrangements; time to allow the minutest of changes; time to be patient and uncompromising. All our changes during the process have made a world of difference. We embarked on this method to create a sound that we love and a sound that could not be achieved in any other way. Now we’ve reached the point of “letting go”. Next month the CD should be out in the world.
Almost 1 year to the day, the recording is complete. Now, its all about listening. Letting some time go by to give perspective and listening to what has been recorded with fresh ears. We’re iistening now: the balance between sounds, the clarity and placement of the music and vocals, trying to find the best order and sequence for all the pieces that will make up the whole. It’s coming together as storytelling and the music and lyrics connect to each other in intricate ways, so that the sequencing becomes essential. We still imagine the wholeness of the album, rather than a set of individual songs. Do people even llsten this way anymore? Or is the internet with all its devices encouraging us to hear individual electronic downloads of separate pieces?
We thought we had finished all the recording last June and were close to wrapping up the album. A few days later Carla realized there was one more song that needed composing. The story wasn’t complete. This one took longer than usual to come into focus. Piano, insistent yet delicate, was going to be the centre of the music and words were going to tumble down and around the repetitious notes. Spoken, intense words against a texture of tuned glass bottles, struck metal bowl, musical saw, wordless vocals and piano. It’s October 1st and we have been immersed in this music for the last year. Today we recorded the piano tracks on a dusky, mellow 38 year old Grotrian-Steinweg.
We are now working on the last composition of the song cycle. It will be a quiet mix of piano, understated vocals, spoken word and musical saw…perhaps with the addition of a repeated struck metal bowl tuned with water. The found sounds that orchestrate much of this recording are being selected for their particular timbre and presence. They are unlike any other sound with their certain rough edges. When we record found sounds the goal is not the electronic manipulation of the sound. We record them to sound like what they are: physical, tangible sounds with substance.
Writing music and words without a tried and true recipe can be unnerving. There is a tendency to think about what your “brand” is or should be or could be; how you fit in. All the voices in your head keep at you: “What if no one will listen?” ” What if the music doesn’t fit any genres?” Pressure to follow convention and adjust your ideas so the music will find the “right” audience can strangle the process with self doubt. And of course this might lead to failure. And that’s the biggest fear of all.
But failure might be more common, more natural than we have assumed. Learn to accept it as part of the process and it might become a fresh place to imagine. Love the sounds and they will open up your ears to a new place. Impossible to know this ahead of time. Impossible to know this with any assurance. Start playing with the sounds that you love. Keep playing with them because you love them, not because you want to be successful. Let them resonate within you. Who knows where it might lead?
The sound of struck glass cider jugs tuned with water will form the bass line of this new song. I’ve been using a bouncy ball impaled on the end of a knitting needle as a mallet, allowing me to literally bounce from note to note with the odd double/triple bounce for ornamentation.
Someone asked “why go to all the trouble of collecting glass bottles, cleaning them, tuning them, training oneself to play them, when one could easily record just a single note into a computer and access this sound with a keyboard?” Well, the physical act of playing the jugs, of making the sounds, would be lost. And this would also affect the way I write the line.
But essentially, much of the emotion one hears conveyed by music is derived from physically producing the sound.