The process for this song was a bit different than usually. The main idea came to me as a whole with visuals for an abstract video.
When I sat down to record the idea, the specific notes weren’t very clear in my mind, but I could record the overall arc and rhythm. I made a quick sketch for the music of the first half of the piece and video right after (using my nonexistent video skills with the nonexistent tools), all in one morning.
Only then I started thinking, what I would do with the Stick.
The Stick part that comes after the intro consists of 5 over 4, which makes every other repetition land on the up-beat. There are some low accent notes that come every 4th time. What also makes this section special, is the hand switch in the middle.
The other sections and refining was a more laborious process that took place during the next months and was also interrupted with the Corona action.
Here are some two handed chords the Stick is good at.
The main aim of the piece was to use polyrhythms. I first got the itch to do it in a minimal form, while listening to the The Dawn of MIDI “Dysnomia” album. But one thing led to another and I was again veering towards more elaborate.
The polyrhythmic interplay between drums and and other instruments starts right after the piano intro. The kick has 5, sidestick 6 and hi-hat 3. Bass follows the kick, piano plays in sync with the hi-hat, but only every other note.
The piano intro melody consists of long even notes. It starts with chromatic ascending core and expands it going by semitone in both directions.
Later the Stick joins the piano melody in unison while keeping the 3 percussively in bass.
In the “chorus” section Stick has 4 in the bass and 3 in melody the first half and the other way around in the second half.
Here is the middle of the chorus that shows both patterns.
As the name partially hints, the inspiration to make this song was to use drum-set paradiddles. The paradiddles are arranged on the drumset on different pieces of the kit as well as other instruments in different sections.
Here are a couple of variations on the drum-kit.
The Stick also plays the paradiddles extensively throughout the song. The notes are divided between the hands, at the same time allowing different fingers to play the LRLL-RLRR paradiddle.
The other main feature is the intro synth line that consists of just 4 notes that are played always in the same order B D Bb Db. Because the rhytm pattern that also repeats has a different length, the beginning long note of the pattern is a different one of the 4 with each repetition until it goes back to the beginning.
I’ve highlited the first notes of the rhythm pattern with red.
This one got it’s beginning impulse from playing with the Antonio Blanca’s Reaktor ensemble Nod-e. You can hear the resulting figure right from the start with a synth, later doubled with a filtered sound on the Stick.
Arranging this melody for the Stick took a while and I finally settled on the variation where I use also my right hand thumb to play a note to get that harp like flow.
The other defining character of the song I find is the bass part that’s also played with the Stick here. It has some percussive elements that are produced with hitting the strings with either all the fingers or the thumb.
For the synth I wanted to use somewhat unusual chord progressions that still sound harmonious and logical. In the end they didn’t come that far out. The naming of the chords is somewhat arbitrary, where some of the notes are omitted.
This is the progression in the first half of the song.
The song began from an improvisation on the beatstep pro sequencer. Sorting through my “ideas” folder I found a drum rhythm that sounded interesting to me. Then edited it to the essential portion of it, also deciding where the the loop beginning and ending would be. It turned out to be a loop just 1/16 short of 7/8 (13/16), which makes a shifting loop if played over a steady 4/4 pulse.
The figure lands again on the strong beat after 4 repeats and on the 1 after 16 repeats.
I decided to base an entire composition around this rhythmic figure, adding different motifs over it and varying the instrumentation. Most of the time the figure is present in the kick drum and bass, but occasionally on the hi-hat, snare and other instruments.
In the section that might be considered the chorus, the figure is doubled by synth and the Stick with constant notes on the bass side and a more chromatic line in the melody.
In the mid-part the Stick and synth have this crazy syncopated counterline to the main rhythm.
The album is a selection of songs from the period 2015-2020.
My main instrument the Chapman Stick gives the album it’s own special color. The Stick has a big role in every track although you might not recognize it immediately, even if you’re familiar with it’s sound, as it has been processed in various ways. In addition to tapping there are also sections with a regular bow and the eBow.
Previously unreleased song Punkt (Point/Period) that is also the most recent one concludes the album.
In addition to the Chapman Stick, I’ve done all synths, electronic drums, sequencing and programming as usual.
I have a YouTube channel now. Practicing my instrument takes a big part of my day, so when I decided to start making videos, it made sense to show exactly that. So you can expect to see videos of me playing sections of my pieces and exercises.