Track 2 - Strings and Arp / Japan


Recorded: 20 January 2015
Instrumentation: Hammond Organ, Spark Synth, Strings
Tempo: 158bpm
Audio Stems: Yes

Originally composed in Brooklyn and completed in Japan, I'm proud to introduce this week's track, "Strings and Arp / Japan."

Last week's track, "Outside Ahhh's," was completely immersed in acoustic instruments. Human voice, guitar, drums. Now we head down a different path to a song that was completed in one of the most historically rich places I have ever been, yet was created entirely with digital instruments.  

Music for me is, and forever will be, a constant juxtaposition. Tension and release. Soft and hard. Placement and floating.

"Strings and Arp / Japan" started in Brooklyn with the first sound you hear: a Hammond Organ played through a distorted Ampeg bass amp. The attack was rolled off in post to give that feeling of a pulse.  After playing around with that, I jumped on the piano and worked out a simple arpeggiated line that stepped through the chords.  This was too generic sounding for me so I started looking for a synth sound that could carry the arpeggiation. Personally I’ve always found it difficult being creative with arpeggiators. All too often they sound prescribed or like you are ripping off Grandaddy. But when they work, they ignite something in our bodies that is familiar yet foreign. After a bit of digging, I stumbled upon an instrument I'd never used before, Spark by Native Instruments. This synthesizer had the right blend of fuzziness and attack.  

The final element to the song was two simple string passes. The viola outlines the chord progression leaving the violin to move through the chords, pushing and pulling on the harmony.  One of my favorite techniques in string arrangements is to step through the scale over a chord progression. When done right this can create temporary tension and release within the chord's structure. It's an art form I've been working on for years and will certainly continue to develop for the rest of my life. This style can most notably be heard in The Forgotten Way by Augustines.  

This week's song marks a major announcement in my life as a musician. It's the first time I'm releasing audio stems of my work. I felt it was the perfect song for the debut of the stems because I always felt this song to be incomplete. Anyone that wishes can pull up this song and add their own creativity to it.  I hope it inspires something in your ears as it has in mine.