For the next 10 days, I’ll be publishing a new post daily entitled “The Story Behind:”, which will aim to tell the story and thought process of a track on my upcoming Photogenesis album. To support Photogenesis, check out the Kickstarter project here.
M/M/M. Quite literally, 3 M’s.
In a semi-senior trip-related story, I was checking my news feed on Facebook during lunch the day before we left for the trip. Buried in my news feed was a post from Mason Gross School of the Arts (Rutgers University) announcing that Mika Godbole was performing Steve Reich’s Music for 18 Musicians that night. I already knew Mika just because I’m frequently at Rugters for various percussion-related things and we’d run into each other enough, and I already knew Music for 18 Musicians and thought it was one of the most beautiful pieces ever.
So I asked my best friend Matilda, who was sitting right across the table from me, if she wanted to hear some really awesome music. I pulled up Music for 18 Musicians on Spotify and played it for her, mentioning that there was a free performance at Rutgers tonight, I was totally gonna go, and asked if she’d like to come as well. She digged what she was hearing, and said sure! After all, we were going on a plane to Florida tomorrow, so why not?
Once we were at the concert and the performance started, I felt like a kid in a candy shop. Even though the music was nothing new to me, it was amazing to watch and hear it come together right in front of me, to witness creation like that. It was really beautiful. Matilda was having a great time too- it was just thoroughly fascinating and engaging- 55ish minutes of nonstop music, and pure awesome. There were moments where we were both grinning like idiots and on the verge of giggling, especially places like Section 6 where the shakers drop in. As soon as I got home I sent Mika a Facebook message and basically just gushed for a paragraph.
So when I sought to write a Photogenesis piece for/about Matilda, I thought a Reich-like minimalist piece would be very appropriate, seeing as that was such a great experience we shared. Instead of Music for 18 Musicians though, Nagoya Marimbas was stuck in my head every time I thought of composing. So, accordingly I decided to do a cross between something like Nagoya Marimbas and straight up drone music.
I wrote only 4 different marimba patterns, and recorded each for a good amount of time. Then I took each on my computer,built a reverb preset, and loaded a separate instance of it on each marimba loop. The piece begins with the first marimba loop being played, and slowly, gradually the reverb takes over until what you’re hearing is no longer the individual pattern, but a drone built out of the spread-out, sustained reverberations- a complete wash of what was originally there. As the pattern diffuses into a wall of sound, the next loop is added, completely dry, and gradually undergoes the same process.
A photograph of Matilda was loaded into a synthesizer called BeepMap, and then was played under the marimba soundscape as a bass voice, to complement the frequency range of the patterns I was playing.
Now, this was a real pain in the butt for my computer, because trying to run all of these reverb instances at once was using up so many resources that I ended up sitting in front of the computer for 20 minutes while my CPU struggled to playthrough (more like stutter through) the 5-some-minute track so that I could record reverb automation. But in the end, it turned out really nicely, and it’s an interesting intersection between Reich’s music, drone music, and photo-generated sounds.
Matilda, Minimalism, Marimba. Makes sense, yeah? Tomorrow we’re moving on to the gangsta hip-hop beats of “Amanda [Layne] Tilles”.