10 Tracks 10 Weeks Week 5 – Lullaby
16th August 2010
“Less is more”. Easy to say, incredibly difficult to implement.
I often blithely bandy this phrase around, but in the final analysis rarely put it into practise in my music. I’m not confident enough to do it. To make something really simple you need an unshakeable belief that your ideas will speak for themselves in their most basic form. In short you need balls.
But at the half-way point of 10 tracks 10 weeks I’ve realised that one of the projects unintended (but very welcome) consequences is that I’m growing some.
(Of course this might turn out to be a bad thing as it’s possible that my “fear” is in fact an innate quality control device.)
While writing an unashamedly emotive track like “Lullaby” I’ve discovered what I knew already but never really followed through: using few parts makes the whole sound bigger.
So I spent many hours working on very little. For instance, the whole of Tuesday morning I just practised the piano part so that I didn’t have to quantize it. I wanted to retain a live human feel to the piano, essential if this track was to work. This was particularly difficult given that I don’t have a decent weighted keyboard, just a synth, which is like playing a bag of cotton wool.
I also focussed on the rhythm track for hours and experimented with different techniques for mixing it. The whole rhythm track consists of only five parts and rather than adding to it I worked hard on making what I had sing. I do confess to a wasted Wednesday of trying some extra rhythms, melodies and fluff but scrapped all of it, realising that if I was to get away with a tune like this it needed to be simple.
It’s ironic that after adding so little, “Lullaby” is the most expansive and symphonic sounding track I’ve produced. The result is what I imagine a power ballad written by Vangelis and Sebastien Tellier might sound like. It seems that less really is more.