Kind of hard to talk about instrumentals, I guess, but I will try. I know, I know, there is singing at the end of “Cigarette,” but, let’s face it, it’s an instrumental. The singing is a big choral group, an orchestral and hence instrumental sound. “Cigarette” is a two minute oratorio. Early on in the song’s genesis I came up with the chord progression, which is a modification of the old I-VI-II-V, repeating the first half, I-VI, before repeating the second half, II-V. I pretty much simultaneously came up with the melody, which I somewhat later harmonized. It was a good while, several months, before I devised the chorus. Continue reading
If “Bacteria” reaches the ideal state in which words and music came together seamlessly, “Beloved Tease” followed a far different progress to become a really good song. I think “Beloved Tease” is a great song despite—or perhaps because of—its unusual genesis. I recorded a demo as I do with pretty much all my songs, which in this case consisted of the opening riff and the verse. I presented it to the band as an instrumental. All my bandmates expressed approval [Digression: my bandmates are extremely nice people, intelligent, considerate—top notch guys. I’m always very enthusiastic when I write a song; I know they can’t all be winners, but my bandmates invariably give each new song a chance and give me boundless encouragement.] for the song, but Joseph suggested that I add lyrics to it. Now, adding lyrics is not my preferred approach. I like it best when, as with “Bacteria” words and music come together. I think you can sometimes tell which comes first or which carries greater weight in less well-composed songs. But here I faced an interesting challenge since the unusual rhythm of the verse, arising without words, differed from my usual lyrical rhythms, which tend in the direction of iambickish pentametroid. Continue reading
DK of Louder Than Dirt here. I play the guitar and sing. I wrote the songs on Madness and Morals, and I assisted Lord Erudite in the production of that album. The collection is essentially finished and will be released, to great fanfare, in December. We’ll post some samples before that time. I know that nobody has heard the songs yet. Nevertheless, I propose for the next 15 postings a song-by-song commentary. The postings will be completely mystifying, but they will provide, I hope, some insight into the process of writing songs and working them up with the band. You will see that, although the style is that of loud, obnoxious rock music, considerable care goes into the making of a record like Madness and Morals.
“Bacteria” is one of my favorite songs. It grew very, very slowly—over several years—and its personal significance for me revealed itself only gradually. As with most of my songs, I well recall the germ of the idea for “Bacteria.” I remember driving home from work (day gig, you know) without musical contamination. When I’m in songwriting mode I drive in silence except for road noise; when I’m in “post-production” mode I listen to mixes while I drive. Continue reading