I made this music video as the summer was dying off into the first pandemic autumn. Not saying what it meant to me, I’m hoping it will mean something for someone else. Music never fails to speak, but we seem to be hearing it differently.
Video Music – release date June 21, 2020. A concept album. The concept for this instrumental music album is that I typically started with video ideas and then created music to fit my visions. I just guessed that most people, like I do, enjoy more to actually watch instrumental music being performed rather than just hearing it. So I made one long video of the full damn album! Seven instrumental song’s videos visually morphing into each other. It was much more fun to do it this way; with the video platform as the main concept right from square one.
In early May 2020 OddGrooves.com shared a generous gift with the worldwide musician’s community, the Lockdown Grooves Pack. A free pack of drum kit performances by master drummer Magnus Brandell. Being a long-time OddGroves fan I grabbed the download right away and found this pack-of-drummings extremely inspiring for a song idea I was working on. I had already been using OddGrooves for some time, and this pack locked in so nicely with this Phrygian mode instrumental piece. Magnus Brandell plays the drums with a deep understanding of the story-telling aspects of musical performance. Ghost hits, fills, and transitions are not just thrown in at specific points, they are all parts of a continuously evolving rhythm vibe through-out the long drum kit performance. Exactly the type of drumming that inspires me as a player and composer. I felt how my sax and guitar improvisations along this track in C Phrygian came out like “standing on the shoulders of giants”… he, he… in this case the shoulders of Drummer Giant Brandell :-) Thank you, Magnus. Good job!
OddGrooves announced a contest, “to support musicians around the world to go creative during the Corona Lockdown”, and I submitted this instrumental track. A week later I was informed that my piece had won the contest, sharing the highest rank prize with three other submissions.
The Phrygian mode has a certain evil side to it, that I like. Neither minor nor major, it stays in a grey zone that you normally just pass by on your way somewhere else. Much like dusk, the shortly flickering passage between day and night. But Phrygia nails you to the coffin while the same notes keep coming back in ever-shifting series of various configurations. And Phrygian can be extremely dissonant. I think listeners may instinctively experience these characteristics as an instant threat, thus causing the well-known “flavor of evil” we know Phrygian for.
In this track, I’m playing my EWI loaded with a SWAM tenor sax patch by AudioModeling and my 8-stringed *strandberg guitar with a slightly rough flintstone pick through an Axe-Fx-III. I also played the eighth notes based bass line with this guitar. The spiccato strings are from Spitfire Audio’s sampler library Symphonic Chamber Strings. Finally, the virtual drum kit I slapped maestro Magnus Brandell’s MIDI files over is the Superior Drummer 3 from Toontrack.
Filmed with a Sony A6500 hybrid camera. The panning background loop was filmed with a GoPro8.
Software used: VEGAS Pro 17, Sound Forge 12, Cubase 10.5.
My YouTube channel is about original music performed from heart to heart, and the instruments I prefer to play are:
– The Guitar (6-stringed, 7-stringed, 8-stringed, fretless, harp guitar, acoustic)
– The Chapman Stick Guitar SG-12 (26,5″ scale)
– The Chapman Stick Grand (12-stringed, 36″ scale)
– The EWI (Electronic Wind Instrument)
– The Electric Cello
– The Tenor Saxophone
– The Alto Traverse Flute
– The Sitar
– The Electric Fretless Harp Guitar by Tim Donahue
I love all kind of expressive musical instruments and have been lucky to acquire a few, many to be seen in this space-rock video.
The newest is the eight-stringed *strandberg Boden 8 electric guitar. It has a tone that feels almost alive, having strings eventually vibrating into overtones (I’ll make a separate video on this phenomenon as soon as a time window comes around). It’s also great to have access to that lowest octave for overdriven amp sounds and palm-muted percussive notes.
The Chapman Stick goes even lower though, but not with the same aggressively chugging attack. So I use the Stick for plain bass line playing in this piece.
The EWI – Electronic Wind Instrument – is loaded with a symphonic oboe patch here, but it is actually capable of covering six octaves just like the Stick and the 8-string guitar.
The electric cello plays a similar complementary role, screaming out bowed pinch notes for transition as well as dubbing a unison guitar melody. The cello is hard to play in a melodic way, but I like how the sound of it can add depth and emotion to the overall sound of a piece.
The Tim Donahue Signature Electric Fretless Harp Guitar opens the video by fading in a harp-plus-guitar note cluster. Long ago I was looking for a good fretless guitar and found out about Tim’s model with the included six-stringed harp system. I have other fretless guitars and mostly use this one for the lush harp sound. If I ever get rich I will definitely order a second one with frets on the guitar neck, so I can combine fretboard tapping with harp plucking. But for now, this is just me dreaming about harp heaven :-)
Finally, I’m also using the Sitar. It has eighteen (18!) strings where you only play on one, while the rest are hanging in for sympathetic “buzz-tone” resonance. I really enjoy making music with this palette of instruments and strongly feel that this video marks a beginning with a lot more to come.
Here’s an excerpt from one of the Chapman Stick solo concerts I performed in medevial churches during the summer 2019. Hope you enjoy it!
For one of the summer 2019 Chapman Stick concerts, I did a bit of vlogging to share with you what it means to go out and play music for an audience. The way I do it here is as a solo artist in instrumental music and since I’m all freelancing there is a lot of preparation behind the scene, hard work that the audience rarely are aware of. If the initial talking bores you, a link at 00:25 allows skipping directly to the live music playing.
Livelooping is enormously fun – You can do it too!
Livelooping is about creating, juggling with and reworking loops to create complex music on-the-fly, normally without using prerecorded material. This is not the same as the static loops typically heard in the background of some contemporary music. Livelooping is more like standing by the edge of a huge canyon and sing back to your own echo. Then you take it one step further by catching the echoes and rework them to create a building of music. While doing that you stay on top of the roof and keep on playing to create new material for the next floor. The building grows, changes, falls apart and grows back into different directions…
In order to start livelooping
you need at least one loop based real-time sampler, or software loopers in a computer. By controlling recording, looping and editing with your feet you will keep your hands free to play instruments that provide the raw sound material for looping.
A new way of listening
For an audience a livelooping concert can be an incredibly inspiring experience. You are not presented a finished artwork that is locked into its composed form. Instead, you are able to follow in detail how each musician is adding his parts to the music – note after note, loop after loop. It is like an instantly evolving ritual of magic that never repeats itself.
I think livelooping can bridge the gap between composer, director, DJ, musician and remix artist. It is a true crossover technique and a meta instrument that can ultimately free your creativity!