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August 16, 2010 - Week 8
This week we're happy to bring you a dream-like tune entitled "Still Life." Hopefully it will bring a smile to your inner self. ALSO, it's a song filled with mysteryyyyy.......which paintings is the song about? Inspired by this intrigue, we're having our first contest! Please check back shortly for the corresponding post "Still Life Contest" for more information about entry, deadlines, and prizes!By SeanBefore I'd even begun to write the lyrics for the song that became Still Life, I decided that I wanted to write a love song about a painting falling in love with another painting. I already knew which two famous paintings I wanted to use as subjects, and I was pleasantly surprised to discover (after some research) that both of the paintings I had chosen had been at the same museum together in the past. That happy coincidence gave a whole new dimension of life and fantasy to the story of the song. I loved the idea that when the museum gets locked up at night the two subjects of the paintings could get out of their frames and freely roam around the building together. Because I had their story completely visualized before writing the lyrics, I think it made it easier to put together rhymes that encompassed all of the ideas and imagery I wanted to convey. I included several plays on words and took a lot of little creative liberties to help keep the mood and subject matter playful, and yet not be too silly. The verses are fashioned using limerick stanza structure, but I made sure to avoid the goofy humor that is associated with that type of poetry. I used the word "place" three times to fulfill the same rhyme (in different stanzas) but in each case, "place" has a different definition/meaning. There's quite a bit more meaning in the song derived from the specific paintings I selected, but because we're having a contest this week to identify the two paintings, I'll hold off till a winner is selected to divulge that insight."Still Life" by The Theory of Funkativity Verse: Stuck here with nothing to do But stand here and stare at you I look at your face while I'm running in place I hope that you don't find me rude I've never seen quite the same blue As the one that covers you It's hard to describe but if I had to try I'd say there's no better use Chorus: And when The guards are all gone We'll step out of frame And wander the halls We'll have No cares at all Laugh at the others Still up on the wall Verse: I think that you're something new You're full of right angles and cubes It's not my place But I do have good taste So know that I'm telling the truth Other girls I've known a few Of differing sizes and hues They watched me race But none of them placed As highly in my heart as you Chorus: And when The guards are all gone We'll step out of frame And wander the halls We'll have No cares at all Laugh at the others Still up on the wall Chorus: And when The guards are all gone We'll step out of frame And wander the halls We'll have No cares at all Laugh at the others Still up on the wall And when The guards are all gone We'll step out of frame And wander the halls We'll have No cares at all Laugh at the others Still up on the wallBy MichaelThe individual instrumental parts in "Still Life" interact to form something strangely fluid and compelling. They give meaning to each other. Their juxtaposition creates these rhythmic idiosyncrasies that somehow bundle together into a twisted flow, glued together by cascading vocal harmonies. During the verse, the bass essentially outlines the chordal harmony while the guitar plays two melodies in the high and low strings. I think of that guitar line as being in an ambiguous time signature. I tried performing it as a series of notes rather than forcing it to adhere to any particular signature. When I listen to the part in the finished song, I hear it getting pulled back and forth between 4/4 and 3/4, sometimes part way through a measure, depending on what the bass and vocals are doing and how I'm listening at that moment. In the chorus, the guitar and the bass trade roles. The guitar switches to a chordally driven part while the bass drops into a more varied melodic line.By Michael"Still Life" is a very moody, dream-like song, so I had license to mess around with interesting mix techniques. I envisioned this smooth, droning cymbal in the background of the song. I had Sean loosen his high hat just enough to get a prolonged rattle out of it, and he rode that cymbal while recording the drums. I then used my trusty Bombfactory BF76 to smash the overhead mics to bits. The result was a smooth droning high hat that ducks out when the snare and kick get hit. Pat's lead vocals received some extra treatment. I always use a PSP VintageWarmer2 to add a touch of grit to his tracks, but in "Still Life" I made the effect more pronounced for Distressor-style vocal distortion. Normally I'm not a big fan of vocal reverb (I like to keep the lead vocals dry and up-front) but I went with more audible reverb to fit the dream-like mood. Instead of my usual CSR Plate I used the Digidesign DVerb, which I consider to be a lower-fidelity but more stylized effect. The pitch wavers and drops off at the tail end of the reverb. The effect makes me think of a Leslie, which is a rotating speaker that creates a doppler effect when you put a stationary microphone in a room and record the sound that's being played through the speaker. The classic example of a Leslie is the Beatles' Tomorrow Never Knows. You can hear the wavering effect on the lead vocals after the guitar solo.