Wulf's Webden

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Lent, the track


Do you know what? I think I’ve finished my RPM 2020 challenge on time and with the full complement of required music. If you check the RPM website, you’ll see that they require at least 10 tracks or 35 minutes of original music; I’ve only got 8 tracks but have got past the 35 minute mark. All of the tracks could do with further work but the point of this challenge is creating a body of work within a set time period; there’s nothing to stop me reworking any of this stuff in the future.

Today’s track is entitled Lent. Originally I had something entirely different in mind, which was more along disco funk lines, but a throw away comment in last night’s blog post (about Lent being a season of 40 measures of time) got me thinking. This morning, I created a new Logic project with 40 bars (ie. ‘measures’, although ‘bar’ is more common in the UK). For good, erm, measure, I also set the time signature to 6/4 as a nod to Lent covering a total period of 46 days and created a number of seven measure blocks with a shorter final section to reach my total. I could have used 4/6 time but I think that would end up sounding an awful lot like 4/4 without other time signatures to create a comparative pulse.

That was the canvas set but how to fill it? I did a quick search on YouTube and found a helpful video on ‘composing hacks‘ by one of the musicians I follow on the system, David Bruce. Following his advice, I listened to a couple of seconds of some music on Spotify (I think it was a piece for string by Samuel Barber but I didn’t hang around to take notes) and used my response to create an initial riff from which I developed a seven bar trumpet part.

Logic has a range of decent horn sounds and I developed some backing, initially using an ensemble set. I then duplicated both parts to create five lots of seven bars and modulated each one down a fourth from the previous position. However, with real instrument ranges in mind, that meant I had to adjust some of the lines and that fuelled ideas for additional variations.

After breaking for lunch, I listened back to what I had and then completed my allotted bars with a shorter, concluding section. At this point, I realised that the ‘ensemble’ part only seemed to be playing with one instrumental sound so I broke it into individual parts for alto, tenor and baritone sax as well as trombone. That was a bit tedious but it was probably quicker to compose the block as a whole to begin with, while as providing further scope for unifying the whole as I worked through it.

Finally, I gave attention to mixing (listen on headphones and you’ll hear that the parts are panned out to surround you), bounced down the result and uploaded it to my SoundCloud account. Just a little bit of admin to do now to officially finish on the RPM site and then this one is in the bag.

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