Friday, January 21, 2022

Trip to the Harrowing Woods

The original working title of this song, as you can see on the VLC window in my screen capture, was Guitar Symphony. I wanted to see what would happen if I layered a bunch of identical guitar parts and panned them around, and this is the tune that I came up with.

Trip to the Harrowing Woods was written from the top down, taking my last song's method one step further. Last time, I wrote the rhythm guitar parts first so that the drums could support the song better, but because there were no drums in this song I instead wrote the melody first and chose chords, backgrounds, and countermelodies that supported the melody I already had. The song still sounds like something I wrote, but I can hear the flipped perspective.

The form is kind of an AAB thing, with an intro, a repeat, and an outro to match the intro. Between the last B section and the outro, however, is a section I'm not sure how to name. It's not a development, it's not a bridge, and it's not a breakdown, but it has some elements of all of those. Or perhaps the entire tune is one big AB form? However you want to analyze it, I suppose.

I drew from several different inspirations for this composition. Before I even started writing, I had decided that I wanted to work in E Dorian. The intro and outro evoke some of the classical guitar playing I did a few years ago, and the guitar arrangement reminds me of playing in guitar ensembles. And towards the end, when I play a 4:5 polyrhythm in the acoustics, I'm thinking about minimalist pieces I've come to enjoy.

This is my first music video in a while to not include an improvised guitar solo, but I thought it didn't really fit the mood. I've used guitar solos for a while to make longer instrumentals more interesting and avoid repetition. In this piece, the expansiveness of the arrangement gives me more opportunities for contrast. Even then, I probably could have done more.

So, did I get the results I wanted from all the doubling? Sorta. The melody was doubled four times, the chords were doubled five times, and the countermelody was doubled six times. I think I ended up with four or five harmony tracks. Apparently, however, it wasn't enough to get the big sound that I wanted. I guess if I want the sound of a hundred instruments in an orchestra, I'm going to probably have to play a hundred layers. It's safe to say that this will not be my last experiment with pushing the limits of my DAW's ability to manage tracks.

Electric guitars were split 50/50 between my Telecaster Deluxe and my Les Paul, and I pulled out the Hohner steel string along with the Squier J Bass. Actually, the jazz bass was the only non-improvised part that didn't get doubled. I had enough bass already.

The song title comes from the video I recorded to go along with the music. In the video, you're seeing me play Harrowing Woods on Disc Golf Valley, and getting my record best score on that course. 

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