One of things I have been most looking forward to in starting this blog (and, just so you know, it’s been about 4 or 5 years in the making) is the sharing of great new music with my friends. I love, love, love it when people share their favorite new music with me, and I love sharing my thoughts about other artists with you, and how they influence what we do, here at Vergence Project.
So….may I present a new blog category, which I’ll add to from time to time, as I come across new stuff.
Favorite New Music -
Dave Matthews Band, Away from the World. Had a friend share this with me last weekend and I have to admit, I’m smitten. My iTunes counter says I’ve listened to it 27 times already, and, uh…..well…..although that might be hitting just a little too close to revealing some latent OCD tendencies, I really don’t care. I just can’t deny it’s been rewarding each and every listen. There is nothing like great art to ease the mind, relax the body, and recharge the soul. And nothing like a great artist to weave the complexity of rhythms and lyrics into a piece that keeps the listener fully engaged, time and time again. It’s something to admire. Something to aspire to.
What my friend didn’t know is that DMB has long been an inspiration for our songwriting, greatly influencing the creative generation of the pair of Diamond songs on AMBERGRIS. These two songs, “Rough Diamond,” and “Diamond in the Rough,” (check out the sound clips on the home page and sidebar) were written as a His & Hers song pair in the spring of 2012. We started messing around with the concept of what describes a man or a woman of great virtue, or aadmirable character, and the lyrics for these twin songs were born.
Although they appear in a different order on AMBERGRIS (I think Rough Diamond actually is the opener), the two Diamonds were written together as the 4th and 5th songs for the record. And, in fact, DitR, which has now become one of my very favorites, and might even be our first video, was initially a throw away. A last minute add-on that came out of playing around some ideas that came out of deconstructing a DMB song, “Satellite.”
So, the thing about this song that I initially found intriguing was the shifting meters. The really cool thing about a song structured on measures of six notes, is that it can be broken up into sections that emphasize doublets (three sets of 2 notes – feels like 1-2, 3-4, 5-6), or the triplet beat (two sets of 3 notes, with a feel of two beats per measure – feels like 1-2-3, 4-5-6) . In this song, the band plays with it one step further, emphasizing the upbeat of the doublets for a very cool syncopated rhythm. In listening through it, the into and the verse of this song are in doublet, with the meter shifting to triplet on the chorus. Awesome. Combine that with the interesting instrumentation and incredible musicianship, and it’s just stunning.
To take my fascination about this song one step further, I discovered that it was actually an evolution from an earlier Dave Matthews song, “After Her.” Similar music, very different lyrics.
When first setting out on this quest to learn about producing music, one of the most important things I wanted to learn was the creative process, itself. Where do the ideas come from? How do they start to fit together? What role to the other performers, producer, engineers and mix/masters play in the final piece? How is great art made? How does it marinate and evolve?
I’m dying to know what made Dave Matthews change the lyrics of this piece into what it is now….
But I don’t have to wonder about our songs. I’ve been involved in the whole process, start to evolved finish. And I think it’s fun to be able share that process with you. Let you see what starts and what finishes and how your ideas could become similar.
What Phil is really, really good at is taking pieces of inspiration, ideas, and crafting them into cohesive poetry with beautiful multi-layered instrumentation – not unlike a classical composer mapping out the scoring for an orchestral piece. He can do this all in his head, hearing all the different parts and how they will fit together, once recorded. And then he can play them all too. Incredible.
As I’ve worked with him, he has he been amazingly open to trying new ideas and has had the patience and the courage to venture into some uncharted territory with this project. It’s been a working relationship built on trust in unusual circumstances, and it’s been a joyful thing to get to participate in a process the creates an emerging piece of art.
Like the diamonds.
We finished writing the draft for “Rough Diamonds,” which is in 4, and I asked Phil to start messing around with the same chord progressions, but on a triplet beat, 6/8 time signature. Out of that sitting came the music bed for “Diamond in the Rough.” Initially, we played them back to back, one right after the other. Maybe we’ll play them that way at the concert on the 13th…..guess we’ll have to see how the story line comes out on the set list.
Thank you, Dave Matthews. Keep going, and if you ever want to write with us, you can reach me here: Sue@vergenceproject.com!
And thank you, thank you, Mr. Marshall.
Rough Diamond, indeed.
“Love draws a bigger circle.”