5 beatitudes sung acapella in SATB chorale style.
While searching for a key and voicing to start with, I happened upon 3 stacked perfect 5ths. Very open to meandering and departing from the starting key of G. The tune settles in the land of E Major.
The Tenor and Alto parts are very chromatic and were a challenge to hear. For the Bass, I was able to reach a low E as I am under the weather and my voice has dropped several tones in pitch. Hurray! Brother Lance was kind to double the Soprano, Alto, and Tenor parts.
I’ve been outlining chorales when I take the train– usually spelling out a soprano and bass part– but, I’m never that happy with them when I get home to flesh out the middle parts.
With this attempt, I simply sat at the keyboard and let the fingers do the talking.
Bach Chorale 2/371
Good string players can leap up and down an octave on the same string and do it musically. In this chorale, there are a couple octave leaps that proved challenging. Again, I’m limiting myself to one string for each of the four parts. A teacher remarked that he has his string players play phrases on one string to preserve the musical line and because the distance between notes is felt differently than if you moved the phrase across strings. The voice executes phrases in a similar way, since you can’t leap an octave without putting in a little effort. On guitar, you don’t have to change position to play octaves, which is nice, but I’m after something different here.
A friend noted that each string is like it’s own instrument. On a piano, every note is laid out and easy to find, whereas on guitar, the same note can be played on several strings on different frets yielding different timbres.
Know every note on every fret, without having to reference familiar strings like E, A, or D. I don’t recall the notes on strings G and D as quickly because I’ve come to rely on patterns for the most part. Site reading is helping.
Hey, thanks for listening.
Bach Chorale 1/371
I have found the perfect practice regime in Bach. I’ve been talking about recording all of his chorales since March of last year in this post.
I play each chorale at the piano several times. Next, I move to the guitar and sight-read, playing both lines in the treble clef, then both lines in the bass clef. Then I record.
At first, I recorded this with four slide guitars. It seemed a good challenge, but proved incredibly difficult to plan the intonation of all four guitars– so I finished it, then deleted it. When I recorded it a second time, I limited myself to playing each line on one string, though the bass line is played on two strings for smoothness and balancing out some wacky intonation.
If I’m not a better sight reader at the end of this 371 chorales endeavor, I promise to burn my guitar.
The harmony in this first is very straight forward, but man, things get delightfully complex with color in the rest.
Everyday, I play through several J.S. Bach chorales. My date with Bach. Harmonically invigorating. There is something surprising and interesting in each chorale. They’re short and understated. More depth than a pop song. I love them.
At the moment, I’m busy with several music projects and assignments, but I’ll soon be posting Bach on a regular basis.
Here is a drawing of Bach:
Yesterday, I asked for twenty words or less on Twitter for to set music to. Bryce sent me nineteen words inspired by a micro poem that Kenpo Bear posted. Thought the first line would do for the title.
setting the animal free
cage doors wide open
with an early parole
chewing no more
as the shackles
I can’t imagine ever tiring of this process. It’s a matter of feeling out the rhythm of the words on my tongue. This in turn, informs the line of the melody. Kept the instrumentation simple between keys/synth and bass.
I mostly follow visual artists on Twitter and haven’t got around to following as many musicians. Many of the artists are very community-minded.
David Sandum is one of those artists– a painter living in Norway. Last year, he and several other artists talked about exhibiting work by artists on Twitter in a public setting. David read in a local paper that funding was cut for the library’s needed books and he called out to artists everywhere to help raise funds by submitting small pieces to display and sell at $32 each. Read more about it on his Posterous site.
I was late to notice the prompt for submitting pieces, but I told him I had a library drawing that suited the occasion and mailed it out. Several times a year, I’ll come across an article about paperless taking over paper and killing physical libraries as we know them. My drawing is a quick sketch of a local library that I frequent. My favorite thing about the picture is that the wooden sign out front is in the shape of a tombstone.
Some 240 pieces were submitted for the exhibit and 112 sold, raising over $3,800. I was delighted to hear that my drawing was one of the sellers. Some of the remaining pieces are in process of going on permanent display throughout the library. See photos of the wall with art hanging.
It was wonderful to watch David develop this cause and see it unfold amongst this online art community.
Been playing with the arrangement and structure of My Anger is Greater Than Yours. Of all the Word to Flesh tunes, I’m the least pleased with this one– it can have more bite and interest.
I’m not aiming for perfection with these, but I am shooting for listen-ability. They need to warrant multiple listens.
Pressing on with a couple recordings. My brother Lance is hanging with and lending his pipes on at least one tune today. I can imagine a gospel choir belting this one out. It’s terribly catchy and it will change your life.
I’ve had several tribute albums in mind since 2003. A tribute of Bob Dylan tunes. A tribute of Nick Cave/Tom Waits/ Leonard Cohen tunes. A blues/old gospel tribute with the likes of Blind Willie McTell tunage. A Duke Ellington tribute. And a Sam Phillips tribute (the female singing songwriter, not Sun Records producer).
I started playing with the Sam Phillips tribute a couple years ago, but only recently finished the first song. Once I acquire the mechanical license, I’ll post it soon. Her new album ‘Cameras in the Sky’ is available through her Long Play project. 5 EPs and a 10 song album for a whopping $52, plus art/interviews/else from the end of 2009 until now.
Draws. About to make a page for drawings that don’t accompany songs. I’ll start posting my “daily” drawings there.
Also, Radiohead’s newest is available for download. I’ve had a several listens already. Fantastic layers, poly-rhythms, vocalizings. Ahhh.
There is advice written to not start a meme on your blog, but #song365 seemed such a natural progression for me. Thankfully, with a starting post like Now Get Out There and Fail, all our expectations were low.
I found quickly, that writing the tunes can take less than five minutes, but the process of fleshing them out in a recording can take up to fifty times longer. I simply didn’t want to record sloppy tunes and later, polish up my favorites for a collection. That said, I wasn’t around my recording equipment for a lot of January and was still able to record and post a handful of tunes with draws.
But, I’ve had an ah-hah moment of sorts as a result of this year’s mulling over drawings, music sketches, daily melodies, and theory exercises; they all work together in these short projects of 20 words or less and I’m deciding to officially call them Word to Flesh. The drawings put flesh on skeleton thoughts, which are written in gospel-red letters, and then breathed to life in song. I’ve even registered wordtoflesh.com to anticipate anthologies of these tunes, but for now, the domain just points to this site.
Meanwhile, I’m averaging working on 3-5 tunes on any given day. Expect me to post over 8 tunes a month. That’ll put the count at around 100 a year. Not bad. Enough for a few collections like best-of’s, seasonal, year retrospects, etc.
I’m in the process of creating a page for posting all of my #draw365′s and will continue to be active in that group.
Thanks for all the encouragements I’ve received. If you have ideas on how I could make this into a better product, do share with me.
My folks held on to this. Drawing at age 2.
A pop anthem for drawing and tapping the hemispheres.
“But, I can’t draw!” You never did as a kid? Quoted at the site DrawingWriting.com:
Only one thing is certain – that written language of children develops in this fashion, shifting from drawings of things to drawings of words.
–Lev Vygotsky, “The Prehistory of Writing,” an essay, c. 1930 in The Mind in Society, 1978.
Always amazed to remember that drawing predates written language.
The music starts out in Bb minor and in measure 2, the Dominant V7 (F7) eases the transition into Bb in measure 3, which is the parallel major. I use the Dominant here in the same way I did for the Midnight Angels lullaby, just reversing the major/minor roles of the home key.
Slow to post these, but I’m enjoying the process in making sure there’s some replay value. I may not make it this year, but I will get 365 posted eventually… no signs of slowing and tons and tons of ideas flowing.
This lullaby is something you might want to try singing to yourself in bed. The melody is like one of those old doorbell melodies. It starts the down beat, and broken chords follow it in the left hand.
The second part modulates from Bb to its parallel Bb minor. The Dominant V7 (F7) functions the same in both keys and makes it easy to transition in and out of the different tonalities.
The squeak of the studio door proved useful for some sound design after the vocal finishes.