Sunday, 4 March 2012

12 Guilty Secrets About "Soundscapes"

Nothing in this world is truly original. Any composer will admit, if they are forced to, that everything they produce has been inspired by or borrowed from, even in a very small way, something else. Sometimes it is completely unconscious, but usually you can trace it back at some point, even though the end result usually bears very little resemblance to its inspirational source.

This is true of my last album, "Soundscapes". Each track has something in it that is borrowed or at least inspired from elsewhere. Now before I am accused of plagiarism, I must point out that we are talking about very small things - maybe a sound, or a rhythm or just an overall idea that sparked the creative juices into composing a brand new track.

So I thought I would share some of these with you for your amusement, and to prove my point. These may alter your perception of the music for ever, but I hope not....

1. "Prayers"

The African drum rhythm was a response to hearing the backing track to a nature documentary I was watching! By the way, the prayer recited at the beginning of the track is actually a recording of a pink, fluffy child's toy in the form of a rabbit, known as "The Prayer Bunny". Now I bet you won't listen to that in the same way again.

2. "Queen of the Nile"

The riff was blatantly stolen from a song called "The Chasm" that we used to play in my old band, Arora - back more years ago than I care to remember. But I wrote it, so that's OK. The riff actually came about as the only decent sounding thing you could do with one of the patches on my old K1 synth.

3. "After the Storm"

The choral break was written first, inspired by Vangelis' "Conquest of Paradise" - the rest of the track was written around it.

4. "Orpheus"

The background choral voice chords leading up to the guitar solo (and used more often in the remix) were directly inspired by the end of "Neptune the Mystic" from The Planets Suite by Holst. Check it out - its more mind expanding than anything produced in the 60s.

5. "Ile de la Cite"

Unashamedly inspired by Shostakovich's Waltz no. 2, but I wanted to turn it into something specifically Parisienne, so chose the instrumentation accordingly and focused on a more French oriented melody.

6. "The Return of Jack Tar"

I was messing around with drum sounds whilst the TV was on and an old sea shanty started playing in the film I was half watching. For fun I started tapping out the drum beat in time with it and the rest is history. By the way, the creaky ship sounds were recorded using my studio door. Must get those hinges oiled.

7. "Iceman"

The ragga section vocal samples are lifted (legitimately, I must point out) from a song about a guy trying to get a signal on his mobile phone. "Don't understand, still in the zone...."

8. "Caledonia"

The drum pattern was inspired by a song heard at a very loud Joe Bonamassa (he da man!) concert in Bristol, I can't remember the name of the song unfortunately (what kind of fan am I?), but the rhythm stuck in my head!

9. "Sunset Highway"

The whole backing beat was put together directly after listening to "Not Fair" by Lilly Allen. I guess I had to get it out of my system somehow.

10. "Rat Race"

The drum rhythm was originally written by me to support the song "Sur le Pont D'Avingon" in a college play and then left on a cassette tape unused for many years.

11. "Somme"

Recorded after I had spent an evening listening to Thomas Tallis' "Spem in Allium" over and over again on headphones. I just HAD to do something in that vein! 

12. "A Farewell"

Would you believe that this was started after hearing "Sweet Disposition" by The Temper Trap? No, didn't think so.

So there you go, a few secrets about how these tracks came to be - I hope it doesn't spoil your enjoyment of them, but one thing I can say for sure; every piece of music you have ever listened to has something like these behind them.

If the composer claims otherwise, he's lying. Or very forgetful.

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