Kate Bush “Running Up That Hill” for String Quartet

June 5th, 2022

Who isn’t watching Stranger Things 4 right now? It’s a smash hit breaking Netflix viewing records and due to its prominent placement in the show, Kate Bush’s 1985 song “Running Up That Hill” is enjoying a huge surge in popularity. When the song first featured on the show, it immediately grabbed my attention with its distant, haunting, mournful melody. It sounded familiar but I didn’t recognize it by name. When it appeared again, this time louder and clearer, in the next episode, I immediately knew I had to find the song and listen all the way through. And as soon as that was done, I decided the tune would make for an astonishing string quartet arrangement and immediately got to work.

Though I already had a busy week, I was able to finish the arrangement over three evenings and submit it for publishing. It was a really fun and rewarding experience and I think the project turned out really well. You can listen to sample below and “Running Up That Hill” by Kate Bush on Sheet Music Direct.

 

{ELSE} Releases “Here Waiting”

December 14th, 2021

After releasing “Through What We Knew” almost exactly two years ago, {ELSE} immediately got to work on an acoustic mini-project that turned into a¬†something much bigger. Originally intended to be be a three-song mini-release, the effort grew to nine tracks and a great deal of work. A drastic change in pace from the previous two releases, “Here Waiting” does not use any electric guitars and instead blends acoustic sounds with a complement of creative percussion arrangements, synthesizers, and soundscapes.

Personally, this was a big project for me as it really stretched my creative muscles. I very intentionally avoided using the same instrumentation twice, and the songwriting process went through many more rounds of editing than is typical for me. I hope the results speak for themselves!

Acoustic Guitar Arrangements

August 1st, 2021

A few weeks ago a good friend of mine held a beautiful backyard wedding and invited me to play during the ceremony. The couple was interested in solo fingerstyle guitar, and had a few sample recordings to imitate. Though I was a bit out of practice when the request came in, I spent much of the winter and spring of this year arranging and practicing. It was a lot of fun and I am really proud of the results!

Another big bonus from the project is that I now have three of the arrangements for sale! You can check out the following on SheetMusicPlus:

A New Thing – Synth Dreamscape Background Music for Tarot Card Streams

January 1st, 2021

Yup, you read that right. I spent a lot of time this year composing background music for my wife’s new Twitch channel. She started streaming a Tarot card experience in the last quarter of the year, and a big part of that is the overall mood and ambience. She set up the visuals with a green screen, cloth and crystal covered table, candles, incense, and multiple cameras, and I purchased and dialed in a new boom mic for the setup. I then got to work writing music she could use in the background, as Twitch Soundtrack wasn’t yet available.

It’s honestly been a really important and rewarding experience, despite the music not being the focus. It has been fantastic to be able to play around with ideas and not worry too much about each one. Instead I’m focusing on creating many possible moods that ElizOfSwords can choose from, sometimes using dark and edgy synthesizers, sometimes focusing on warm and welcoming chords. I even composed several original holiday tracks and made arrangements of “Silent Night” and “We Three Kings”. I’m particularly proud of the “Auld Lang Syne” arrangement, which was (obviously) the last piece I worked on in the year. Take a listen:

I created nearly 30 total tracks with a run time of over 3 hours, and I’m sure I’ll keep working on ideas as they come to me. It’s been an amazing opportunity that still has plenty of potential left to explore.

No Justice. No Peace. The Bull’s Gonna Run

June 15th, 2020

This will be a year for the history books. After the murder of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, many of us hit a breaking point with the way our country treats Black lives. One of the things I personally struggled with was the “what do I do?” feeling. Thankfully, Ivan of Pay the Devil had a protest song prepared and asked me to help finish it. We worked on this mostly remotely, each recording our parts in our home studios, and then got together (with masks!) to finish the mix. We published the track in dedication to all of those who are marching, and offered the track as a “pay what you can” download, giving whatever money it made to help the bail fund for those arrested for curfew violations. The song is now available on Spotify:

Systemic problems and deeply entrenched personal values are hard to change, but I really do believe that the marches, music, and memories of this summer will make a difference.

{ELSE} Releases “Through What We Knew”

December 13th, 2019

NEW. {ELSE}. ALBUM. Again… NEW. {ELSE}. ALBUM. Another several-year project done. An album release show later tonight. Another month or two of rest and recovery planned before starting the next one.

This album, like our previous “Who Will Cry”, ended up taking way longer than anything should, beginning with recording my guitar parts back in November/December of 2017. Bass and the other guitar parts followed in January-March of 2018, followed by vocals in the summer of 2018. At this time, we had to pause in recording to train our new drummer, who did an amazing job learning the songs and recorded his parts at home in March of 2019. I spent several weeks of heavy mixing sessions after the drums were in, and then spent the summer slowly poking at the mixes every few weeks while planning the release show, eventually settling on what you hear now.

Though still very proud of our initial album, Through What We Knew is a colossal improvement in many ways. The newer songs are better written, with a greater variety of sounds, textures, and tempos, and the production value is better. I still¬†am not happy with the guitar sounds on the first album, despite remastering, so this time around we focused on tighter, more-focused, more meaty guitars. It’s a big improvement, but honestly still something to work on for the next album. I learned a bit more about mixing bass, using a touch less volume but a more consistent low end to always fill the space without overpowering the rest of the mix. I focused on more present vocals with a more focused EQ, less reverb, and better compression, and used more suitable reverb and EQ on the drums for a more lively sound.

Anyway, I hope you like it! I’ve listened to the songs hundreds of times now and still like them, so I think that says something. Maybe.

Piano Sonata in Cm

September 30th, 2019

After several years of focusing almost exclusively on my rock/folk band projects, string quartet arrangements, running live sound, and recording projects, I took a recent, quiet weekend alone at home to write a piano sonata. Read the rest of this entry »

Pay the Devil Releases “Weimer, Texas”

September 20th, 2019

Pay the Devil released a new single, featuring me on cello! The band has started to release singles in-between larger recording efforts, so this one comes relatively hot on the heels of another single and their full album from earlier this year. Take a listen!

New {ELSE} Album Later This Year

September 15th, 2019

It’s been another long writing, recording, mixing, and mastering journey, but the end is nigh! {ELSE} released a two-track preview of our new album, Through What We Knew. Take a listen!

Learning Mandolin

July 28th, 2019

Screen Shot 2019-07-29 at 11.07.57 AMSince early college, mandolin has been top on my “next instrument to learn” list. I did finally start playing a few years ago when my former bandmates from Whiskey Doubles gifted me a mandolin as a new-house gift, and I did end up playing two songs with that group on mandolin, but never really felt comfortable with the instrument. After a few years of it mostly just hanging on the wall, I started playing it near daily this year, usually 15-30 minutes a day, teaching myself some bluegrass and americana staples, as well as working on my own arrangements of songs like “Amazing Grace” and “When the Saints Go Marching In”. And now I’ve just finished my first gig with the instrument!

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