I can hardly believe it. Composition of my “ECM Album” project is completed, in an amazing 29 days. If I had dared to guesstimate how long it might take to write this, I would have said months.
But that was before our current pandemic-enforced, work-at-home isolation. Regrettable as the situation is, there’s nothing to do but make the best of it. For me, it means a lot more studio time.
The project is one long piece in 8 sections, and looks to run 75-80 minutes. At least 5 of those 8 sections were written entirely on keyboard, without touching a guitar. A cool new way of working, which (1) bypasses limitations in my ability to find good tunes and chords on a guitar, and (2) avoids the question of how to tune the instruments until after the writing. First things first.
The piece is in four modes (none of them major or minor), including two at a time in some places. It’s got 3-part canons, 3-part polyrhythms, 3-part polychords, and is mostly in odd time signatures.
Most significantly perhaps, it is almost entirely melody-driven. This is a key part of moving toward my unique sound, away from sounding like other people.
It must appear that I set out to compose a Major Guitar Piece. True. This won’t be my last piece to include guitar, but it is intended as a final guitar statement, summing up everything I have wanted to say using these instruments.
There’s even a “Genesis bit” – fulfilling a long-held hope to create a triple-12-string part, inspired by the classic Genesis songs Supper’s Ready, Cinema Show and Entangled.
A proper performance of the piece will need 4 players and 12 instruments: 3 electric guitars, 3 – 12-string electrics, 1 acoustic guitar, 3 – 12-string acoustics, 1 fretless electric (or fretless bass) and 1 mandolin.
To that end, I will be preparing sheet music, which I expect will take a hell of a lot longer than 29 days.
There are a few passages which I may adapt and perform live myself, but a primary goal for the project was not to be bound by the limitations of one-man live performance. If nothing else, I absolutely nailed that.
Recording will get underway… eventually. I have three or four ideas for vocal tunes which have been lying around for years. Their time is now. Another new tune will be sent to the fantastic Los Angeles Master Chorale for consideration.
This is the longest sustained composition run I’ve ever had – I’ve been working virtually every day for over a month, so recording can wait while (hopefully) more writing gets done.