Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Madness Is Quiet

Not 5 minutes before I started writing this blog post, I was made aware of some very upsetting news. One of my favorite live bands, RX Bandits, just announced that their upcoming summer tour would be their last. If you aren't aware of who RX Bandits are, you're doing yourself an incredible disservice. The Bandits started off as your run of the mill ska band, but gradually warped into something rather unclassifiable. Equal parts rock, psychedelic, progressive, reggae and a whole host of other genres mashed together in one large melting pot, the group has a habit of recording all of their albums live, with a minimal amount of overdubs. Which, if you haven't done before, takes an extreme degree of talent to pull off at the level that they can.

I've seen them at least once every year since my sophomore or junior year of high school (it's been a while) and they're by far one of the best live shows I've seen. High energy, the entire crowd sings along, and the band never stops for a second. It's sad to see them go, but I'm sure their final string of shows will be among the best.

Onto happier news:

Kelly and I recently completed another rough arrangement from Alice Unraveled, entitled "Rose Petals". In the musical, it details the main character coming home from the party where she was just assaulted, and her slow descent into madness and Wonderland as she attempts to cope with what just happened. It's dark, yet oddly beautiful and poignant.

Kelly's original scratch track was in E minor and much slower than it is here. I decided to speed it up a bit, roughly 15 bpm, and changed the key to F minor. F minor is much darker sounding, contributing to the vibe we were going for. The BPM change happened in order to provide more variety to the arrangement; the original repeated the same arpeggiating pattern over and over, whereas the new alternates between quarter note and 8th note grids.

Laryngitis while recording a scratch vocal track was an issue for Kelly, but she still managed to turn in quite a beautiful performance. We left her voice bone dry, in some contrast to the rest of the arrangement, and it sits wonderfully in the scope of the mix: right in front of your eyes and backed by a harp, string trio and an assortment of electronic noises and drum hits.

The arrangement's still not finalized yet; the end in particular needs some work, when the electronic elements kick in full force, and the large drum hits we agreed on are far too big for the scope of the song. However, I think it's a pretty good representation of the final product, and I can't wait until we can put together an ensemble and hear how it sounds on all live instruments.

Rose Petals by Michael Hart

The rest of my week is taken up by scoring Merry Christmas Eve, of which I just received a rough cut. It's a monster at the moment with a 45 minute runtime, but Alyssa's going to be trimming, trimming, trimming over the next week or two. I have some great ideas for the score already, some involving my favorite 30 second decay reverb patch. AMBIENCE.

I'll update you all again at some point this week; it contains our school's biggest festival of the year, Culture Shock, and Ke$ha live in concert for me tomorrow. I'm incredibly excited.

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