Amarta Project

Amarta Project
Beyond The Lines, Beyond The Sea

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

There to Here, Then to Now - A Brother's Tale

It's been a while. Hello.

It's been so long since I wrote an update on this blog, I don't know where to start - so I won't. I'll just talk for a bit if that's okay with you? Cool.

'Beyond The Lines, Beyond The Sea' is the name of my new album. It's coming out on June 20th 2016, almost four years since my debut 'Night Stories' on September 10th 2012.

On September 11th 2012, I got some devastating news.

My eldest brother Nick had cancer. It wasn't going to go away. It would claim him in a year.

Let me tell you about Nick. He liked music. He liked fishing. He liked to take photographs. He liked to travel. He liked to drink whisky. He loved his family very much. As big brothers go, along with next in line David, I couldn't ask for better.

What followed in terms of the next twelve months, both personally and musically is kind of a maelstrom - a spiralling journey that somehow, at some points, never felt like it was going to stop being downward, or ever get better. Music was my ally, my friend, my confidant, but - this time round - it left me. I couldn't write, couldn't shape my fingers into a chord to lay on a keyboard, I couldn't do anything. Even the prospect of turning my computer on to face it daunted and tricked and terrified me.

And then came the day that he left us too. Almost exactly a year since we were told we would lose him.

Grief is such a subjective thing. Some people can carry on with their day - pulling and dragging themselves through it, healing through industry, seeking out support when they need it like popping a painkiller from out of the blisterpack. Others retreat, look inwards, try to unravel, and understand, and withdraw....latterly, this was me. I was angry, I was sad, I was suffering my own way - as we all were. No one in the Taylor family had it any easier than anyone else. Time is what you need I told myself, the aged cliche which is more than true. Less than true were some of the friends who would not afford me that time and thought I should 'snap out of it', 'be more positive', 'stop being so sad', 'its not what he would have wanted'. If stating the obvious were an Olympic sport right? These people stopped becoming friends very quickly. If they ever are in a position where they lose something more significant to them than their car keys (and they will) then I shall be very interested in measuring the relevance of their grief for them. I told you I was angry.

By the by. To the point.
Music, after time, became more accessible to me, if certainly not easy. Nick was always over my shoulder when I was writing this album - sometimes I could almost hear his voice, not in a cliched Hollywood way, giving me guidance (he certainly wasn't Yoda) - but just the sound of his voice was there. Like the hum of a streetlight, or traffic across air - he was a reference point always. I'm not sure that was a good thing - this album was hard fucking work, it never made it easier. But I always felt he was there - but then I realised - I got it wrong.

There I was trying to make this album for him - to finish it for him - to leave something as a parting gift that he would have been proud of and listened to and enjoyed. No.

Not entirely.

This album was MY journey. A journey through grief, through change, through pain, through loss, through coming out the other side.  I still am, I think I always will be.

Beyond The Lines - beyond what we see every day, beyond what we take for granted....
Beyond The Sea - to that place where one day we will go, that we will never return or turn away from....

This is what that journey sounds like.

For Nick. For Me. For Us.

'Beyond The Lines, Beyond The Sea' Pre-Order Here
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Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Night Stories Part 4 - Notes On The Future

Todays listening - '13 Angels On My Broken Windowsill' - BT

August 23rd, half past midnight. Head's like the inside of the Matrix. All I'm seeing is streaming lines of code and bleached out colours searing the back of my skull, etched in as if by some kind of industrial lathe.

I'm tired. But today, has been a good day.

A friend's birthday. A kiss on the arse from the bank. Nice food. Yeah, a good day.

So why so jaded? Well - this promotional lark is draining. I've never been one to talk about myself (there are members of my family who don't know that I have an album coming out - they really should by now. It's on the to-do list, honest) so a constant barricade of mememeness is rinsing me out like a hot flannel.

I know given the nature of what I do, that this is an essential routine. What's the point of making music if no one hears it? But I honestly don't know how pluggers/publicists/promoters don't get the urge to saw their own heads off daily. I guess I must be doing it wrong. It's monotonous, boring, slightly humiliating and ultimately, provides little return for the input (I'm guessing.) Now I'm sure there's a right way and a wrong way to do self-promotion, but sheesh - does it HAVE to be so rigid?

The answer is yes.

We live in a world where talking to people is just not de rigeur any more. Everything is wireless - intangible like air and transmitted across networks that don't just span your street, or town - but the world. Logistically, it's a nightmarish situation. Especially for someone as disorganised and lazy as me. So, parading I go, album in hand, across the world wide web tapping timorously on doors I'm not even sure I should be tapping at. It's the classic case of 'throw enough shit at the wall and hope some of it sticks.'

But, hey ho. It's a learning curve right? Positively speaking, this grind on the numbers has worked a little magic, in a lot of ways - and cumulatively, that adds up to a lot. My track got played on national radio - that's a result by any stretch. How the fuck did that happen? Don't question it. Lap it up and milk it. It's also traded me with a little more perspective musically. I haven't so much as TRIED to write any music or be creative since the beginning of July, and it's a really eye opener realising how much time I ploughed into this album, now that it's finished. Freed from the murk of the creative haze I can clearly see what coming AFTER 'Night Stories' - some of which may surprise you sonically.

This self-inflicted hiatus from the music making has made me realise it's not the be all and end all, but to my defintion as a person, a human being - it's pretty much essential and can't be overlooked. Music will always be there, it's not just a whimsy. Will it be the main focus for always? Who knows. For now, yes.

There is life after music.
There is no life without it.

'Night Stories' - September 10th. Be there or be square.

Friday, 10 August 2012

Night Stories Part 3 - Every Story Has An Ending

Today's listening - 'Night Stories' by Amarta Project. Yep - me again.

So where was I? Oh yes, 5 tracks down, half way in. So...

6. 'Cloud Cover'

Look at these beautiful people.

Ladies and gentleman - allow me to introduce you to the Boat Party Masseeeeeeve.

How is this related to 'Cloud Cover'? Well - it was after a night out with this bunch that CC came into being. Last summer was kinda dreary, weather wise. Typical British summer ya know - kinda sunshiney, mostly cloudy, overall disappointing.
I had this notion, that I liked the title 'Cloud Cover'. It sort of summed up my mood at the time of inception, and pretty accurately reflected the shitty summer weather of 2011. When I first started writing it, it was kind of downbeat, reflective - not the happiest of tracks.
The I went out with this lot, and had a great night out.
The revisited version of CC, post Boat Party, was a different story. It became infused with a break in the cloud, an injection of sunshine provided by a mad night out with some great people. If you listen to the track it starts off kind of pensive, resolved onto a minor chord. Then, as with a break in the cloud when the sun comes out, it shifts to a more upbeat partylike mood. You can see yourself dancing with a drink in your hand, surrounded by great company, sailing the high seas (well, Thames) through to midnight and beyond. CC has been live on my sites for a while, and has proved to be one of my most popular tracks - mostly thanks to this lot. Cheers.
June 5th 2011 - the sun shone brightly that day.

7. 'The World Looks More Beautiful At Night'

It really does. This track was designed to be listened to driving around London by night, maybe by the river, on a summer's evening in an open top car.
London is full of ghosts, and you see them quite often shuffling about the streets in the wee small hours. You see some strange things. Sometimes they stand stock still in the street waiting to be noticed. Sometimes you catch them hovering in a doorway. Sometimes you don't see them at all, you just know they're there. They don't make a sound - but they have a resonating frequency that you feel deep within, somewhere. This track is my attempt to translate that frequency. It's lazy, dreamy, funky, sinister, beguiling - a little bit lost and jarring. It means nothing in its' constituents - a snippet here, a vocal clip there, a monotonous groove underpinning - but when you sum it all together, it just works. Very proud of this track, it's my soundtrack to a city that's indefinable and shifting, beautiful and evil. And as for the intro sounding like 'West End Girls' - that's COMPLETELY intentional.

8. 'Neon Sun'

Another track that proved a battle of wills. The classic case of having a beginning, and an ending - but nothing in the middle to gel it together. This in turn proved to be a blessing as I had to flex my imagination and musicality quite a lot to get the job done. The result is probably the best 'drop' on the album. Again this track, much like 'Monument', modulates quite a bit musically. Don't know what key it's in. (Okay, force me to call it - A minor, with a modulation to D minor after the drop - happy now?) It's subtle, you wouldn't notice it unless I'd pointed it out (which I just did) but it was the glue that was needed to nail this. All in, despite this geek talk, all you need to know is this - IT'S. A. BANGER. Play it loud. No - LOUDER THAN THAT. Yeah - now you got it....

9. 'Hearing, Breathing'

The most personal track on the album. In February of this year, I was struck with a crushing bout of vertigo. If you've ever had it, you'll know how horrible it is. You can't move, you can't get up, sit down - nothing. It's like spending your life in the inside of a washing machine on spin cycle. The best you can do is lie still and breath. This vertigo continued for a couple of weeks, and a doctor's diagnosis was that it may be 'something else'. Meniere's Disease is a condition that can manifest as vertigo in its' initial stages, and can lead to a loss of hearing down the line. The prospect of losing my hearing was terrifying. I pretty much disappeared off the radar when I was going through this,  but thankfully came out the other side.

Breathing is kinda important. I knew this, obviously - but only truly appreciated it after one night, sitting in my car at work, eating a Snickers bar. Random? Yes. Relevant? Totally.
Whilst chowing down, a small piece of the bar got lodged in my throat. The more I tried to shift it by coughing frantically, the more it seemed reticent to move. Panicked, I stumbled out of the car gasping for breath - drawing in but not being able to breathe out until there was no room left in my lungs. Involuntary tears streaming down my face I thought 'this is it, you're going to die in a pile on some concrete in an industrial estate in Hounslow.'
Not ideal.
On my hands and knees now, I coughed harder, and harder, whining and gasping until finally, after what felt like a million heartbeats ripping through my ears, it shifted. I must have stayed there for a while, dribbling onto the concrete. I drew gazes from the little Indian boys pummelling up and down the road in their forklifts as they loaded fruit into the ar-tics. Thanks for your help fellas. 'Preciate it.
I've had my appreciation of the simpler things in life rekindled this year. Listen to this track - if you listen hard and close - you will hear it breathing too.

10. 'Shiver'

Written pretty much in one sitting - 'Shiver' was completed in about 6 or 7 hours, maybe the quickest written track on the album. The first edit of this track was too long, it bored me. So it was subject to a musical bob cut for the album. The result is much tighter, more concise, and more impactful as a result. It's a cold sounding track that warms up through the layers. All the synth sounds are quite thin, reedy, barely there - but when layered up with a big sub bass and a housey groove, heat up significantly. It's pretty relentless, musically not very deep - but it has a presence and a vibe that just again, kinda works. The power of layers. And yes, that is me muttering away over the top. This track was submitted to a label for a deephouse compilation. They rejected it. Losers.

So there you have the inside track. An autopsy of the pieces that slot together to represent 'Night Stories'.
I'm very proud of it. I hope you are too.

September 10th!

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Night Stories Part 2 - Every Story Has A Beginning

Today's Listening - 'Night Stories' by Amarta Project.

There's a good reason that today's listening is,

Thought you might like a little run through of the tracks on my album, what they're called, how they came about, the quirks they have, the heartache and equal euphoria they brought - that kinda thing. You in? Sweet.

'Night Stories' was initially born approximately three and a half years ago. Terrible parent that I am, I cannot remember exactly when. Tracks started ecreting themselves out of a few loops and samples, and as my knowledge of production grew, from actual seeds in my head. At the time I never really imagined that there would be an album at any point, it was just something more productive to do than sitting watching TV. I experimented with different styles of electronica, failing miserably in lots, succeeding in a few - aped as many of my favourite artists as I could (apologies to BT, Hybrid, Depeche Mode, Ryuichi Sakamoto and a hatload of others) and just sort of knuckled into it.

My 'day job' is working as wheels for hire by night. It all sounds much more shady and exciting than it really is, but it did involve spending great swathes of time driving around London by night, and almost (on quiet nights) as much time sitting in my car with nothing better to do than to sleep or gaze out of the window at whatever suburban nightmare/utopia I was parked in. Unable to sleep under the glare of sodium orange street lights I would often think about the tracks I was working on, and many ideas would formulate - at night. I was never a day person, have always been a nightbird. So inevitably when I was working on the tracks it would be at night, through to early hours. Anyone that knows me would know that a 5-6am finish in the studio would not be unusual. The tracks somehow take on a darker flavour by night - this would not be the same album it was if the only difference to my method was working during daylight hours. It wouldn't have the edge. And so....

Welcome to 'Night Stories'.

1.'Bad Monday'

This track was a perfect contender for the album opener. It had a dark kind of energy to it that was a perfect capsule for everything the album would come to stand for. The title comes from a vocal sample I found lying about on my hard drive, and the track was built around that, mostly.
The actual writing of the track was very fast - maybe a week from initial idea and arrangement to mixdown. That's pretty quick for me, and I think it was the energy of the track that carried me through the process - it's upbeat without being glossy, beautiful and grimy too. Just like me really.

2. 'Science...And Other Things'

The text conversation sort of went like this.

Sal - What are you doing?
Me - Looking up equations on the internet.
Sal - Sorry?
Me - I'm writing a track that's got a vocal sample in it quoting Newton's laws, I want to make sure it's accurate before I include it.
Sal - Ant, what are you REALLY doing??

Sal probably doesn't remember this text conversation. 

I'm a geek, and I don't care. I wanted to write a track that sort of summed that up. Having toyed with titles like 'God Particle' and 'Higgs Boson', and having dismissed both for being equally wanky, I was no further with my geek track. Then, this sort of came out of nowhere. Jumping on the opportunity to make THIS my geeky science track I decided upon a somewhat generic yet I think intriguing title (what other things?) here you have it, track 2. And one of my faves.

3. 'Pushka'

The last track to be finished. When compiling tracks for the album I found there was a gap. All the tracks were either too slow (80-100bpm) or too fast (140-175 bpm). There was nothing in the middle. So, this track was written to order. I've always loved the Above and Beyond sound - slick, fat and killer on a dancefloor. Figuring I could tackle this, and then realising I couldn't, I ended up with Pushka. I love this track but don't ask me where the title came from - it's too rude.

4. 'Monument'

This track is the only truly instrumental track on the album - everything else has a vocal sample, a clip, a reference - this one, nothing. That's not by design, it's just a coincidence.
Hands down, without question - this track fought me every step of the way. It started as an idea based around a couple of melodies I had in my head - namely the opening riff you hear and the main melody you hear after the drop. Could I find a way to plumb them together? No. Bloody No. So it sat on the hard drive, safely on rotation. And it sat. AND SAT.  Every time it came round on the revolving door, it abruptly threw its chin in the opposite direction like an errant child and stropped 'Nope, not ready.'
But I knew I'd get you in the end my pretty...
To this day, please do not ask me what key this track is in - it modulates to the point of confusion. E minor - maybe? A minor - likely. G major in the outro - probably. 

Every time I hear this now, more and more I hear Depeche Mode. Early DM, ya know - when they put tunes in their songs.

5. 'Jenny Kissed Me'

'Say I'm weary,
Say I'm sad.
Say that health and wealth have missed me.
Say I'm growing old - but add
Jenny Kissed Me.'

For the record, she didn't. 

A snippet from the poem of the same name by Leigh Hunt. There's no reason for this stanza to fit anywhere in this track. It's not romantic, soft, ballady in any way. Yet - it fits perfectly. This track was written pretty quickly, and again - I have no idea where it came from. I stumbled upon the groove purely by accident - one of those happy ones. Most of the time ploughed into the production of this track involved me shouting at my computer screen at stupid o'clock in the morning after it decided that it did not like this track and would not comply with whatever I asked it to do. I would tell it to freeze tracks, it would hear 'crash and burn like a motherfucker'. I would tell it to save the set, it would hear 'fuck off and open the task manager, I'm FIRMLY not responding'. But I won in the end.
Something to do with large amounts of resampling and huge reverb tails, though not nearly as quirky a title. Fully expecting a lawsuit from the Pet Shop Boys for this track. Oh well.

That's half the album down. Tune in for the other half soon.

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Night Stories Part 1 - A Boy Called Anthony

Today's Listening - 'If The Stars Are Eternal Then So Are You And I' - BT

Been a while since we all caught up. Sorry about that - you all good? you look well.

My last blog post was over a year ago. I can only apologise for neglecting you, but honestly speaking, I never forgot you - it was always the intention to return here when I had something full and valid to say. Blogs that update regularly with very little to illuminate are no kinds of blog at all. That said, it has been over a year since I last posted, so I better make this a bloody good one.

Today I'm going to tell you a story.

It's the run up to Christmas 1983. Anthony is twelve years old. One day, with clearly nothing better to do, he stumbles upon the latest Argos catalogue. Flicking through, not looking at anything in particular, he stumbles upon a picture on a page which, at the time, he couldn't have realised was going to change the course of his life. It was an inevitability, a first step of a journey - a path that was going to welcome and reject him with equally unforgiving and open arms to this day. This was what he saw.

This, is a Casio MT65 electronic keyboard. In 1983, it cost £149. 
He would gaze at the picture on the glossy thin page, read the item description over and over until he could tell you verbatim how many different sounds it could make, how many rhythm patterns it had - it even had an arppegiator. Anthony didn't even know what an arppegiator was, but he was impressed it had one. He wanted one. He really wanted one.

Anthony could have happened upon any other item on any other page. Meccano or Lego that might have sparked an interest in engineering or construction. Chemistry sets that may have burgeoned a desire to be a scientist. A football, an art kit - whatever. But this was it. A light going on.

Anthony remembered the times before - long summer holidays being dragged to Ireland to his Uncle John's place in the heart of the Irish countryside - the kind of place where the sun shone all summer long and there was really, nothing to do. In Uncle John's parlour was an old, well loved, hideously out of tune upright piano that had an odour to it. Not a bad one, a smell of well loved old wood and discoloured ivory. You'd lift the lid, which was never locked, and be hit with it's musty smell square between the eyes. The action of the piano was one of age - the keys were light and soft, and you could feel the flimsiness of the hammers hitting the strings deep within. The sound was tinny, drowned out - a little lost. He didn't understand what the black keys were for, so played the white ones. He had found C major. On top of the piano in front of him was an old black and white photograph, in an elegant pristine silver frame which was clearly polished more often than the picture was looked at. In the picture stood two figures, a man to the left, a woman to the right - his maternal grandparents. The faces were blackened with labour and hardship, and the expressions were of what he could only describe as confusion - what's this thing then? Taking a picture? A camera? - but the eyes, of both, burned through the glass, they watched, and he watched back. He played. As they watched. Hours would roll by. Even now he can still hear that first naive tune that he composed.

It's 1988. Anthony is a teenager, a perfect teenager. A gangly awkward stick of angst and one question....why me? Mrs Stead, the music teacher, is on his case. A short, frosty Scottish woman who must have been very attractive once. Anthony spent a lot of time avoiding her, mainly because Anthony was a lazy bastard and disillusioned with academia. Coursework was NOT being done. Often they would chase each other round the school building, him running away, always being found - she always sniffed him out like a weasel. He often thought that she must have reckoned that he didn't like music. She would have been wrong - but he wanted to do it his way. She was all semiquavers and staves and 'every good boy deserves favour' - he was hit the keys and feel what comes out. They never really saw eye to eye.

In the dining hall was a grand piano. I say grand, as a term of definition only...there was very little that was grand about it. The school could never have afforded a 'grand' grand piano - it had clearly been acquired from somewhere else, after 'somewhere else' had no more use for it. Little matter. The dining hall was only ever used at lunchtimes and the odd afternoon for an insipid drama class (yeah, look - I'm a tree...) most other times, it was empty. Anthony on free periods would sit at the piano in the vacated dining hall, learning chords, relative minors and revelling in how beautiful a major 9th chord would sound as it resonated round the insides of iron and wood with the sustain pedal held til the sound dissipated to nothing. If you hit the chord hard enough with the pedal on, the chord would often resonate for two or three minutes, delicately changing as the vibration would transfer from hammers to strings, from strings to frame, and from the ironwork to the wooden enclosure. Again the sound would change and become brighter and more playful if the lid was up on its strut, quirkily and cockily pointing its apex to the corner wall.

Joe was the caretaker, one of two - Joe was the one everyone liked. He would now and again wander in to sweep the floor after lunch, or pass through on his way to somewhere else. He would never say too much if Anthony was sitting there - though he would say one thing that would stick, and return every once in a while when inspiration was being aloof.

'You sure can make that thing sing....'

Twelve year old Anthony would leave the Argos catalogue open, strategically, on the page where the keyboards were. Asking for it was never going to work. £149 was a lot of money to my mother. The answer was always going to be no. Stealth was the key, the slow drip of conviction being applied to a mind that would never open to possibilities through any other means. This carried on for what felt like months. It probably was months. Christmas was nearing, and so was his fear that he wasn't going to get what he wanted. 

Christmas Eve night he couldn't sleep, after being dispatched early. There was clearly a lot to do, and he was only going to get in the way. The stairs and hallway were dark as he edged down the stairs. The kitchen light was off. The kitchen light was never off. She was always in there - cleaning, or reading if all the cleaning was done. Voices in the living room. He expected nothing but a rebuke to go back to bed as he walked into the living room, along with a sharp pointed gesture to go and get the glass of water he wanted. 

Standing by the sofa were my mother and my sister, wearing faces that only read 'busted' - followed by a rare and unexpected joint laughter. On the sofa in front of them was a half wrapped box, about the size of a Casio MT65 keyboard. He looked at the box. 'Casio MT65 Electronic Keyboard' dimly lit and smudgy from the reflection of the Christmas tree lights. If he could find words to tell you how he felt, he still wouldn't be able to tell you.

Anthony still has that keyboard. It's wrapped in plastic in an upstairs cupboard. It's yellowed, beyond dead, and has anatomy missing. But he will have it til the day he dies.

Anthony's mother only ever bought him two presents in his life of any worth. One was that keyboard. The other was a typewriter.

Twenty nine years later, Anthony's first album 'Night Stories' is due to be released.

My name is Anthony. Hello.

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Chaos Theory, Digital Soul...And Other Stories.

Today, an experiment.

Click play below, and read on.

The Butterfly & The Tornado by Amarta Project

Ever heard of chaos theory? You should have, it affects you every day. The pantheon that is Wikipedia defines it as thus...

In chaos theory, the butterfly effect is the sensitive dependence on initial conditions; where a small change at one place in a nonlinear system can result in large differences to a later state. For example, the presence or absence of a butterfly flapping its wings could lead to creation or absence of a tornado.
Although the butterfly effect may appear to be an esoteric and unusual behavior, it is exhibited by very simple systems: for example, a ball placed at the crest of a hill might roll into any of several valleys depending on slight differences in initial position.
The term "butterfly effect" itself is related to the meteorological work of Edward Lorenz, who popularized the term.
The butterfly effect is a common trope in fiction when presenting scenarios involving time travel and with "what if" cases where one storyline diverges at the moment of a seemingly minor event resulting in two significantly different outcomes.

Okay, good. We clear? No? Well, stick with me yeah? In a nutshell, things that seem insignificant, such as the gentle breeze of a butterfly's wings - can lead to greater outcomes. Micro density changes in air pressure will translate as a transferrence of energy to something else, snowballing with other micro events to create significant changes - in this example, a tornado - in some other place across the globe.
Translating this basically infers a theory that, nothing is random. The unpredictable becomes infinitely predictable, and our daily droll as we know it, is never random - it is predetermined by events over which we have (seemingly) no control. Obviously, we create these micro events ourselves - breathing, sleeping, sweating, sneezing - everything we do, to the atom, is a micro event. Ostensibly our lives become data sets, zeroes and ones - you've seen The Matrix, right?
This theory, idea - fascinated me. What is music? It's a data set. Notes occuring at set points, at set frequencies, in set rhythms.
Zeroes and ones.
So this is the premise of this latest AP offering, The Butterfly & The Tornado. It's an experiment, it's an application of numbers. It's also, I think, pretty chilled to listen to. You may find it a challenge, you may find it dead boring. The important thing is that you - find it. 
The construction of the track was based, completely, on random events. Whilst writing this I had no idea how it would sound. The software I use for music production allows random sequencing - so with this in mind, I loaded a bunch of samples into the software and set each sample to trigger what's known as a follow event, ie. each sample or sound becomes a domino in a chain, one falling into the next, triggering a new completely random sample. If you listen to the twitchy, glitchy bippy percussion which permeates the track, especially at the beginning, this is chaos theory - completely - in action. I did not edit, or chop or change these events. They were, as is - and as is, good enough. 
Again, later in the track - a drum break, set to randomly chop, reverse, pan left and right. Challenging - maybe - to listen to, but wondrous to know that it was all completely random (or was it?) The soul of the track was completely digital, the sounds you hear - merely the screws holding the structure together.
As a piece of music, does it work?  That's for you to answer my dears. I can only say that I enjoyed letting it be chaotic, and as an experiment - totally glad I gave it a bash. What you hear is left with all mistakes left in, and is mixed MINIMALLY, with only some final glitter added on to gel it. The randomness and the rough edges are part of what makes this work.  Do let me know what you think.
Oh and if you do leave me some feedback - in the spirit of the day - make it random.

Friday, 20 May 2011

Waltz with Me

Today's listening - "I Got A" - Nicolas Jaar.

1,2,3 - 1,2,3....

We all know a good waltz when we hear one don't we? In the last blog I mentioned writing (more germinating at the moment) a piece inspired by a TV show I saw. It was written in one of those golden moments, at 3am - when I really should have been in bed.

But when it comes, you bow to it.

The piece is a cute, twee, major chord piece of Americana which would slot into a cult movie as easily as black coffee and cherry pie. Unintentionally, it's in 3/4 time - ie. it's a waltz. It's important to distinguish that it's in 3/4, and not 6/ is definitely a waltz.

Now, this didn't strike me as strange at the time. It is what it is - it's nice - I'll use it for something - it sounds good on a solo piano - can I go to bed now? But upon reflection I had to concede, that's it's the first piece of music I've written which isn't 4/4. Why is this? Why is there a drought of pieces in irregular meter? It's almost as if musicians are afraid of it - or regard it as something dirty.

It's too hard. The listener won't accept it. It's unfamiliar.

Nothing could be further from the truth. When I realised I'd written my first non 4/4 piece, I felt another shoot in bloom as a musician, another string to my bow, another bullet in my armoury. Some notes and observances then...on a waltz.

A waltz, in my opinion, is one - or t'other. It's either a delightfully joyful experience, or it's mournful, aching and cold. There is no in between. I'll illustrate this - watch this video. You'll know it - and you will let your inside sway from side to side as you listen to it. 1,2,3 - 1,2,3....

"The Blue Danube" - Johann Strauss

Pretty isn't it? There's something about this piece of music that just warms you from the inside out, and certainly - the meter of it helps that along. It gives it a jaunt, a spring to its heel. This is a wonderful, timeless illustration of the waltz. Another wonderful illustration of the waltz, will leave you on the dark side of the moon - howling. Watch this for shading in the extreme - again, it's a waltz. 1,2,3 - 1,2,3....

"Open Heart Zoo" - Martin Grech

Oh, hello. Was staring at my boots there.
See what I mean? Howling. The meter makes it metronomic - intense and inevitable, the futility of a soul waiting to be broken. Both achingly beautiful and both - waltzes.

Never been a music theorist. Never been a theorist of any kind really. I work and live with what feels good. At 3am when I wrote that piece of music, 3/4 felt good.

And I hope it will continue to do so for some time.

'In the midst of winter, I finally learned that there was, in me
An invincible summer.'

- Thomas Carlyle

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