Cello Appearance on Eponymous’s “Sea of Tranquility”

December 10th, 2017

MKE-based rock band, Eponymous, just released their second full-length album, Sea of Tranquility, featuring myself on cello on two tracks!

The first song, “So They Say“, features some cello throughout, has an aggressive bridge breakdown where I added some wild cello parts, and ends with a small passage featuring two cello voices.

The second, “Extortion“, also features cello throughout, slowly building, and rising to a counter-melody in the last refrain.

Make sure to give a listen to the whole album on Spotify!

Hold On by The Alabama Shakes for String Quartet

September 2nd, 2017

Closing out a recent flurry of quartet arrangements is the incredibly soulful “Hold On” by The Alabama Shakes. I initially hesitated on arranging this one as the melody relies so much on an intense vocal delivery, but it was actually the rhythm section that convinced me to arrange this. The main guitar riff works out beautifully as a cello line with some percussive slaps, and the key ended up lending itself to a lot of double-stops worked into the melody and harmony parts to bring some soul into the string delivery. And of course, I close the quartet with a bit of a round, pretty much a hallmark of my arrangements by now.

 

Blue Orchid by The White Stripes for String Quartet

August 27th, 2017

What a song! I don’t know anybody who doesn’t like The White Stripes, so it was finally time to arrange one of their tunes. It’s actually pretty difficult to find suitable arrangement material from musicians who excel at their instrument and feature it boldly, because no amount of clever arranging could make a quartet sound like a grand piano, a finger-style guitar, or in this case, one of the dirtiest blues riffs ever written. To approximate some of the bends and other guitar-specific techniques, I actually took the blue notes even further, adding even more diminished harmonies than in the original recording. I’m really happy with the result – a short, energetic, and bluesy rendition of a great song!

Zero by The Yeah Yeah Yeahs for String Quartet

August 27th, 2017

A few years ago when I arranged “Maps” by The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, I had to first spend a week or two if I was going to arrange that song or “Zero” as they’re both excellent songs with lots of potential for the quartet. Well, it took a while, but I finally got around to arranging “Zero” as well! The song features a good dose of heavy rhythmic techniques for most of the players as they simulate the synth and drums. The violins and viola add some harmonies to the song’s original solo vocal parts and the arrangement ends with a small round and a chorale.

Time After Time for String Quartet

August 21st, 2017

I really, really adore a lot of 80s music. I received a request for an arrangement of Cyndi Lauper’s “Time After Time” (well, actually a slower singer-songwriter cover of the original) and instantly was pretty excited. I ended up arranging the original version in a pretty quick afternoon and have been singing it to myself ever since!

Music in Metal Tales

January 29th, 2017

My metal rendition of the music from Bosch’s Garden of Earthly Delights is now included in a video game! The game, Metal Tales: Fury of the Guitar Gods, is an arcade-style animated game from Spanish based Nuberu Games. You can view some game play footage and read more about the project at their official site, http://metaltales.com/.

And check out my name in the credits in this review video!

{ELSE} Who Will Cry Re-Release

January 10th, 2017

Another chapter in the project that never ends. This, I can say, is really truly the final chapter though. My primary project, {ELSE}, released a remixed and remastered version of our debut album, Who Will Cry, today.

I started recording this album in December of 2013. My guitar parts and bass were done in a few weekends, and then the long waiting game started. The first initial roadblock was that our singer, Juan, decided to leave the band right at that time. This meant that for the first part of 2014 we had to split time between auditioning new vocalists and recording.

We found our current singer, Shane, and he had learned the material by the summer of 2014. I also moved into my house during that time, and made the switch to Mac with a new laptop. I spent a few weekends transferring all of the old files to the new laptop and we finally started the process again.

After a few gigs we felt that Shane was comfortable enough to record, so we laid down vocals in the fall of 2014.

Meanwhile, our drummer, Joe, built himself a studio to record drums, but that isn’t cheap or easy so he wasn’t done with drum tracks until January of 2015.

Only the next weekend or so we finally got around to remaining guitar tracks and I went through about a month of intense mixing and editing in February of 2015. Because this was my first true album, I had a lot of lessons to learn along the way. The drums were very, very difficult and our lack of a proper pop-filter and screen on vocals meant that I had a lot of consonants to scrub and compress. The timeline of everything was so spread out that as I learned a new technique I would go back and apply it to some of the tracks that were already a few years old.

Finally, on March 20, 2015, we had our CD release party! It was done!

Haha, no, not at all. I was immediately unhappy with a lot of the album and in June 2015 sent it off for a remastering and a new digital distribution. The remaster was a bit better, but I still had problems with the overall sound and some of the individual performances.

Therefore, I opened up all of the tracks again and tackled problems. In the second half of 2015 I started remixing just a few songs. I focused on making a rounder, less tinny sound. Over the years, we have backed the treble and presence of our guitars down, so that needed to be reflected. I did the same on the FX channels and the result was that without so much very high-end clutter, all of the instruments were clearer and louder. I also worked on the drums, particularly the lower end and added more oomph the bass drum and a heck of a lot to the toms. I think the new tom sound is actually the most improved part of the album!

Into the winter of 2016, I applied those edits to the entire album. That sat for quite a while, and finally in December we re-recorded a few vocal parts to get rid of lyrics we were frankly sort of embarrassed by. I then ran everything through my own remastering and submitted for re-release through CD Baby.

The very last delay was a wonderful Hawaii vacation into the 2017 New Year, but upon return, the final proof was ready for review. I did actually find an error in it that needed to be fixed! So, one final fix, click that “Approve” button and finally, it is done.

Now, the hilarious thing is, I still have some problems with this version. I messed up a noise gate on a tom in one song and you can hear it opening and closing, adding a weird accent to some cymbal hits. I also introduced a small pop in slicing a vocal take. I also kept finding other new problems, but almost 100% of the time I would listen back and find them in the older versions, meaning that after two years and hundreds of listens I was hearing these things for the first time. I decided to just leave all of those. I also think the guitars are still not where they could be, but I really need to stop nit-picking and move on.

The new demos I’ve been recording in the last few years all sound as good, if not better than the album, and all of the learning I did working on the album is definitely a contributing factor. I think that our next album, which we hope to record later this year, will be a breeze compared to this. I don’t think I’ll need another two years of learning about compressors, adaptive limiters, noise gates, flex tempo and pitch correctors. I’ll just start with the current settings! We’ve all also improved at our individual crafts – Shane sings stronger and more in tune, Nate and I have greatly improved our guitar tone, Jon and Joe play with more consistency – so I am hopeful there will be little editing this time around.

With Who Will Cry, although I’ve said it before, I am finally done.

Fidelity for String Quartet

January 30th, 2016

Always a favorite of mine, I broke my own arrangement rule of arranging a song for strings that has strings in the original arrangement. This one is just too good to pass up! You can view a one-page sample of the score below.

Home, Edward Sharpe, for String Quartet

January 30th, 2016

Arranged for my own wedding in March of 2014, this fun song uses a few extended techniques and gives each instrument a moment in the spotlight.You can view a one-page sample of the score below.

Such Great Heights for String Quartet

January 30th, 2016

This is the only song I’ve performed at multiple weddings, and funny enough, it’s been the Iron and Wine version each time. This one was sort of a slog for banjo which is accustomed to playing with speed. The string quartet version, though, thrives with the slower tempo and lush harmonies. You can view a one-page sample of the score below.