hey kids! welcome back. whew…i’ve been writ’n a bunch a songs this week, the most recent of which is this guy…”beastern” (CLICK IT FOR MP3). this song is the “complex” part of a two song personal project i did this week called simple/complex. this is mostly in reference to melodic material, but carries over into arrangement as well.
after a conversation with mama steiny this week about the potential of running out of creative steam, she suggested that i write a simple song that just focuses on a strong melody. i liked this idea alot, and as i am prone to, started to think of it as a bigger project…LOGIC: if there’s a “simple”, there should be a “complex” and they should be released at the same time. whatever. “beastern” is the complex one of the set.
when i finished the basic bones of Our Universe (available at the detholz wordpress blog) i started playing with ideas for “beastern”, as a three or four part, single line, guitar vamp. i recorded roughly three minutes of these parts and added a drum track that eventually loops at different places and comes back to the original groove. i like the busy-ness and harmonic character of these parts, and kept them at the same root and parts for the entire run, as a drony “pedal” sort of base. i was considering writing lyrics with the melody, but decided against it initially. i used a melodica for the main melodic instrument, as i thought it fit the character (much like an accordian would) and because i have one kicking around. with that drony harmonic material, i needed a melody that was particularly “interesting” and starting playing AROUND the harmonic material of the accompaniment. the main scales that would be more or less diatonic to this accompaniment are A to A (white keys – or aeolian) and the same scale with a major THIRD (C#). i started the melody there, and then started adding F#’s and D#’s and resolving them to create an “outside” sort of tension in the melody. i think it created an odd, meandering character, but one that still resolves and gets back to it’s “home.” i made the main phrase 8 bars long before it repeated, but with two repeatable 4 bar phrases, that i broke up later (when the bass and vocals come in). then i split things up between melodica and guitar to give the ear breaks from the otherwise relentless melodica stuff. 🙂
i did end up singing a bit, cause i wanted the tone of the human voice to appear, to add more interest to the piece. once i taught myself to sing the melody, i used the beginning of the alphabet (see here) as the words, and wrote words similar to the sounds and pronunciations of the alphabet part:
THE BEST C S I
JAY ATE A LEMON
DOPIE JEWELER CHEST
A BEE SEES ME
HE LEFT ME AND I
O P TOOLER VEST
it’s a tongue twister!! TRY IT!
the next way that i decided to add interest was sort of cinematic. i used the alphabet idea and imagined someone seeing this song performed live and remembering to practice his alphabet. he steps outside the club for a second to hear himself, and goes through the alphabet once to make sure he’s still “got it,” and heads back inside for the end of the song.
i see this piece as an instrumental really, with the voice as one of the instruments, and the sounds (or words) as articulations. a fun way to write!
thanks for listening.
check out this weeks Special Exclusive Jon Steinmeier Song of the Week at http://detholz.wordpress.com