For a while I had been talking ideas back and forth with one of my good friends Ryan that I’ve played music with for years. We got together to write this piece a few weeks back by starting with a guitar melody that Ryan had written and then layered different percussive elements, as well as a neat foley part. It’s a very neutral vibe that the guitar track creates allowing for the composition to flow freely and give the listener an option as to what the feeling is. I didn’t want to follow a click track for this one. The percussive parts are sometimes slightly out-of-place for specific reasons and give this so-called “programmed track” a human element. Some things are better left unpolished and the moment in time that is captured simply is the art.
As the track starts off you’re introduced to the clean guitar part that was recorded using a Vox AC15 with an M-audio Luna microphone. The part was played straight out with only a metronome to click us off. After having a solid foundation (guitar) I proceeded to find my percussive sounds using the Garageband app on my iPad. I think it was the “house” drum machine with all of the low-end frequencies taken out and squashed with a compressor plugin from Ableton. These parts were played in realtime by tapping the rhythm on the virtual MPC pads on the iPad. There are little inconsistencies that pop up from time to time where it doesn’t line up on the grid quite perfectly but I feel it gives this composition a humanistic feel even though it has a “programmed” vibe. After the percussive parts were finished I layered some pad sounds from Garageband app that creep up, or sit a little in the background. Coming up to the middle section we tried to think of a part to write but couldn’t find anything that fit the way we wanted it so I tried something a little different. I have some foley sound files that I’ve recorded over the past few months and tried one in particular. The church bells are from the town of Whiteville NC where I grabbed my Zoom H1 to capture the 12:00 pm chime that happens each day. The weird thing is that the bell part was in the same key as the song ha! Needless to say… It was a perfect fit. Lastly we chose a bass sound that wasn’t too “clicky” but something that would accommodate the drone feeling we were looking for so we went with a sub style bass that yet again came from the Garageband app.
The key was to use what we had and be creative with those tools. It was a moment in time that we captured and that’s where the significance lies. It’s not about how perfect something is that makes it art, it’s about the moment, the emotion, and the thought.