Experiment in Subtraction

While playing around with piano textures - notes and ambient noises - I came upon this interesting thing. I took an improvised piano solo recorded in December (Copal 1, you may have heard it from a few blog posts down), and used other sounds from "around" the piano to support it in an arrangement - to create atmosphere, texture, mood, a pulse.

Then I took out the core element, the improvised piano solo, and just left the "around" sounds. It's an interesting result, the empty space left by the missing piano part is almost like a silhouette.

[edit: I've since taken these demos down, since they became The Waiting, both versions appear finished on the Feather Hammer album]

I'm reminded that I've done this kind thing before - back when Helzuki were writing in the studio, many of the arrangements started with piano parts that I had written. As band members added their layers to the arrangement, we all found the song worked better if we took the original part out, leaving all the stuff that had been constructed around it to hold the thing up.

Imma try out this method some more. It suits me, since my improvs sometimes come out sounding a bit basic and obvious. This could be a cool way to use that material in a backwards kinda way.

In other news, the My Lithium & Me project is being noticed and listened by the best people:
sweetoblivion blogged about it, Boy George downloaded and listened to it, and it was featured on David Bowie's very own site as a news item. Fair to say I'm absolutely chuffed at the reaction it's getting. In little over a week since releasing it I've had over 5700 plays and nearly 2300 downloads via soundcloud, which is just awesome! Thanks everyone!

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Update - here's a video demo by Matthew Greasley to go with the non-piano version of the track:



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Climbing the steps to Parnassus

I thought it would be a swell idea to revisit this classic text to, y’know, ‘brush up’ on voice leading before I get stuck into my string quartet. I remember having it as a text at University, not having the patience to work through its’ exercises.

3 days and five pages of dire note-against-note counterpoint for a cantus firmas in every mode later ... I feel like dying. I continually remind myself: Beethoven found this useful and referred to it constantly. Was this the reason he was such a cranky man?

I guess I will continue with it for a while, since the better I remember all the rules, the better I will be able to break them. I don’t want to begin writing The Quartet until I have a clear idea about theme and structure. At the moment my head is swimming with a million ideas with nothing really pinned down. On Thursday night I got into a cab and found myself overwhelmingly inspired by the Punjabi folk music playing on the car radio. Doesn’t help that the commission is supposed to be in neo-classic style.

*sigh* Hopefully the concept and design with hit me in the face sometime soon or else a Neoclassic/Punjabi mashup may happen, and surely only bring discomfort and misery to the world!



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