New single available on iTunes

Fire Single Cover

I’m pleased to announce the release of my first single entitled “Fire”. It is now available for download on iTunes and Amazon.com and CD Baby (where 99% of the sales revenue goes directly towards the artists) amongst various other online music stores. An excerpt of the song was featured in a video to raise money for a local non-profit group which supports local artists and eco-friendly living. Half the proceeds of the single will go towards the same non-profit group. The song can be previewed and downloaded here for $0.99.

I wrote the music of the song for a client for whom I’ve written 12 songs so far (we are in the midst of recording an album featuring the 10 best tunes of that bunch). I did the music myself and recorded the vocals at Tone King Records in Cardinal, ON. The song features vocals from Caroline Addison of River City Junction, Brockville guitarist/singer/songwriter Mark Bergman, Cardinal singer/songwriter Amanda Keeley, and yours truly of course.

Fire Recording Session Photo Mar 16 2014

Credits (left to right): Jason Fryer (recording engineer); Bryne Carruthers (producer/vocals); Mark Bergman (vocals); Caroline Addison (vocals); Amanda Keeley (vocals). Not pictured: Scott Glenen (lyrics and executive producer); Donald Armstrong (artwork)

We released a signed and numbered limited series on CD last Saturday at a local art show. We produced 50 copies and we’ve sold at least 40 so far (one of which was bought by our local MPP). As a bonus track the CD includes a vocal recording of an instrumental track used in the voiceover section of the same video entitled “This Can Be” (which we plan to release shortly as a single for digital distribution also, in collaboration with recording engineer extraordinaire Philip Shaw Bova). CDs are $5, half proceeds go towards same non-profit group. If you are interested in a copy please contact ASAP, they will not last long.

I’m also pleased to announce I’ll be doing a workshop on writing and producing music for the grade 9/10 music students at BCI on June 12, which will in part cover how the song Fire was created.

The lyrics of the song can be downloaded for free below:

Fire Lyrics ©2014 Scott Glenen

Hope y’all enjoy the song!

Bryne

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Now Teaching Guitar Lessons in Brockville at Canada Music Academy

I’m please to announce I am now teaching guitar lessons through the Canada Music Academy in Brockville Ontario, located at All You Need Music, 2117 Parkdale Ave., right next to Tait’s Uptown Bakery and Deli. I am accepting new students, ages 6 and up.  Samples of my guitar playing can be heard on the Music page of this website.

You can register for lessons online at https://www.canadamusicacademy.ca/Teacher&rates.html?page=2&icID=1;cityID=34

CMA logo

I am also now offering one-on-one guitar lessons via Skype (in addition to keyboards) for a limited time at the low price of $20/30 minute lesson. Please email for more information or go to the Teaching Services page.

In other music-related news, I’ve written 11 songs so far for a songwriting coaching client, four of which are in the process of being producing into recorded tracks. Everyone I’ve played the preliminary tracks for loves them, and I will post samples soon.

One of the tracks will be featured in a promotional video I’m doing the music for.  The video will help raise money for starting up a local non-profit organization in Brockville. The track will be available for download on iTunes and a portion of the proceeds will go towards the organization. Shooting of the video should be done by now apparently, and it should be edited by mid-March, at which point I’ll start on the music. Rest assured I will keep you updated on everything!

Until next time,
Bryne

Extreme Songwriting Experiment: 12 Songs in 12 Hours

Some people are driven to do extreme things.

On Sunday I was working on setting lyrics to music for a client, and I wrote the music to three songs in one day, which was a record for me.

This reminded me a while back I had seen the ‘Song a Day’ YouTube Chanel by Jonathan Mann.

I considered for a moment writing a song a day for a year, but that had already been done before, so I thought I’d try something different.

Why not try writing the music to 12 songs in 12 hours?

I needed lyrics that would be easily set to music, so I chose William Blake’s Songs of Innocence and Experience, the songs of Innocence from the first half of the collection in particular.

songs of innocenceI read that Blake composed melodies to these poems, but never wrote them down. In any event, they have a predictible meter and rhyme structure, which is exactly what you want if you’re planning on setting lyrics to music in a hurry.

I decided I would write the chords above the lyrics of each song, and record a ‘scratch vocal’ version of it with a simple piano arrangement (closed position keyboard style of course) and vocals sung all the way through. This is the sort of quick and dirty recording I would give to a client after I wrote the song so he/she could start learning the song ASAP.

I had the day off Monday, so I started around noon, and I was done before 11:00 pm.

cesar

‘Veni, vidi, vici.’

It wasn’t as difficult as I thought.  I did intentionally choose the shorter poems, which helped.

The thing that surprised me is that I didn’t run out of musical ideas or write the same music over and over.

Maybe if I’m up for a real challenge I’ll try writing 24 songs in 24 hours.

Normally I wouldn’t post ‘scratch vocal’ recordings here, since they are pretty rough sounding, but they will serve as evidence that it is possible to write a lot of music in a short period of time, if you set your mind to it.

#1
The Shepherd Lyrics & Chords

#2
THE ECHOING GREEN lyrics & Chords

#3
The Lamb Lyric & Chords

#4
THE BLOSSOM Lyrics & Chords

#5
THE LITTLE BOY LOST Lyrics & Chords

#6
THE LITTLE BOY FOUND Lyrics & Chords

#7
LAUGHING SONG Lyrics & Chords

#8
THE DIVINE IMAGE Lyrics & Chords

#9
Spring Lyrics & Chords

#10
INFANT JOY Lyrics & Chords

#11
NURSE’S SONG Lyrics & Chords

#12
THE CHIMNEY SWEEPER Lyrics & Chords

Recording of Student’s Lyrics Set to Music

In my last entry I posted the melody we composed collaboratively at the second workshop for the music theatre students at Thousand Islands Secondary School, based on the lyrics to William Blake’s “The Tyger”. This poem was presented as an example of lyrics featuring a consistent meter and which would be ideal for setting to music in a short period of time, which we were able to do in a matter of minutes.

In the first workshop I played for the first time a piano arrangement of lyrics written by one of the students, which I had worked on during the weekend before. I had promised to do a live demonstration of setting lyrics to music in the class, but the meter of these lyrics was a little too irregular to work out the timing of the words “live” in class. I liked the lyrics a lot so I took the time to set them to music on my own.

For today, I made a quick ‘scratch vocal’ recording of the song, which is posted below with the lyrics.

This helps illustrates the process of setting lyrics to music for a client. Once I’m given a copy of the lyrics, I compose the melody first, then add the chords. I then meet with the client to perform the music and get his/her feedback. Once the music has been approved or after changes have been implemented, I record what is called a ‘scratch vocal’ track, which is just a bare bones recording of the vocals and accompaniment on piano or guitar. When I was working at Parks Alberta, the interpreters (the employees who would write and perform the musicals I wrote the music for) would have to be ready to perform their musical productions within 2-3 weeks after the music was first heard, so this recording would help them learn the words early on. It is also helpful to record the song early on to work out the timing of the vocal melody.

So here’s the song:

“HOW A SECRET SPREADS” (lyrics by Noah)

Well…

I told Sarah And Rebecca

And Sarah’s kept it so I know

But Rebecca, (she’s a gossip)

And soon enough she let your secret go.

She told the barber,

And the baker,

And that surly old hat-maker

And his friend from across the pond

He told the chemist

And the medic

And the man who lives above Jeannette

The one whose face is unnaturally oblong

– Mary! I told you not to tell anyone!

Are those the only people who know?

Mary – Umm

He told his plumber

Then his sister

And the burly man that kissed her

And the girl that never wears the same hat twice

She told her dentist

And her handyman

But no one really quite as grand

As the girl that told it to the bishop’s wife

  Since the lyrics are a work in progress, the next stage would be to adapt the final version for piano and vocals. Then a draft of a recorded version (featuring whatever other instruments were decided upon) would be prepared for the client to hear. The key of the song may be adjusted at this point to suit the singer, then the final instrumental version would be produced. Once it was completed, a ‘guide vocal’ version would be prepared for the singer to learn the song. In this case, with luck the song will be featured as a part of  a musical that the class will perform, which would be a lot of fun I imagine.

Until next time,

Bryne

William Blake’s “The Tyger” Dance Remix!

I’m happy to announce I did a couple workshops last week for the music theatre students at Thousand Islands Secondary School here in Brockville. I brought in my iMac and piano keyboard to show the students how I go about creating music. Using music commissioned by Parks Alberta as examples, we learned how to set lyrics to music, adapt a piano arrangement for orchestra, and how to produce a brief musical idea into a dance music track. The students were awesome, and I had a blast teaching and performing my music.

During the second workshop we applied what we learned about setting lyrics to music and wrote an original melody for William Blake’s “The Tyger” as a class.

This weekend I was working on setting lyrics to music for a client, and after I finished, as promised, I took the original melody to William Blake’s “The Tyger” we composed last week and did a quick instrumental dance remix.

Here’s the melody we came up with for piano:

And here’s the dance remix I did this evening:

If you want to follow along with the words, here’s the lyrics of the song written and illustrated by William Blake himself (click on image to enlarge):

"The Tyger" by William Blake (poem)

I was planning on posting an mp3 of a piano arrangement I did for a student’s original lyrics but the recording wasn’t up to snuff according to my ears so I’ll have to redo it and post it another time.

Thanks again to Sam Crosby and Shawn for their support, encouragement, and assistance! And thanks to the students for being eager and willing participants. I’m happy to answer any questions about the workshop and I can be reached by email at brynecarruthers(at)gmail.com.

Have a good evening.

Bryne

Nevermore! – Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven” Set to Song

I love setting words to music.

This Saturday morning I felt the urge to take a stab at Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven”. I had an inkling of how the melody might go, but I wanted to do a bit of research before I got started.

I had memorized the first few stanzas of the poem back in grade 8 after seeing an adaptation of it on The Simpsons for their Halloween special. At the time I had little idea what the poem was about, and hadn’t thought much about it since, so like a good musicologist,  I read the entry on Wikipedia (lulz).

Apparently it is about a young classics scholar pining over his deceased girlfriend. One interpretation states he has been reading occult texts on black magic (‘many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore’) in a vain attempt to bring her back to life and goes mad in the process (i.e. seeing a talking bird that wasn’t a parrot).

The-Raven-Perched

“Off your meds again Homer?”

This seemed a subject ripe for song to me!

With all the references to the occult and witchcraft, the key had to be Eb minor, which is the colour of midnight blue and evokes a sense of deeply melancholic longing. Think the first few measures of Coleman Hawkin’s solo on  “Body and Soul” (0:09 in the video below) or the main theme to Thelonius Monk’s masterpiece “Round Midnight” (0:32 respectively).

Once the mood was set, I then banged out a melody and piano arrangement of the first two stanzas (keyboard style, closed position of course, as my students would know), and recorded a quick  version for voice and piano  (below, with lyrics for your convenience and edification):

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore —
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
“‘Tis some visitor,” I muttered, “tapping at my chamber door —
            Only this and nothing more.”

Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December;
And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.
Eagerly I wished the morrow; – vainly I had sought to borrow
From my books surcease of sorrow – sorrow for the lost Lenore —
For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore —
            Nameless here for evermore.

piano with voice:

©2013 Bryne Carruthers

piano only:

©2013 Bryne Carruthers

This is all I have time to do right now, but it would be fun to adapt the whole poem to music and then possibly arrange for orchestra. I’ve also got a couple William Blake poems (including “The Tyger”) that I melodicized a while back that could use a piano arrangement and might be worth sharing. So much music, so little time, alack and alas!

Never_More_Homer

Night night folks

Until next time,

Bryne

I Stole That Tune Fair and Square! – Stravinsky’s “Rite of Spring” Quick and Dirty Dance Remix

Stravinsky_picasso

“Lesser artists borrow, great artists steal.” — Igor Stravinsky

It’s no secret: musicians have been pilfering each others musical ideas since times immemorial.

The most notorious example of outright musical intellectual property theft in the 20th century arguably occurred on Led Zeppelin’s first few albums, where they covered numerous songs by blues artists, folk musicians, and others… without crediting them. After a series of court battles the songs were thankfully credited to the original artists. They are still one of my favourite bands ever, they just started out more like a cover band.

Jimmy page1

“Willie Dixon? Never heard of ’em”

But its not just rock musicians who plunder other musicians’ tunes.

The “Ode to Joy” theme from Ludwig Van Beethoven’s Symphony #9, 4th Movement, sounds astonishingly similar to a melody by Mozart from “Misericordias Domini” (listen to the strings at 1:00):

It doesn’t stop there: Mozart ‘borrowed’ the following theme (C -D – F – E) featured in his Jupiter symphony from J.S. Bach’s E Major fugue from Book 2 of the Well Tempered Clavier, who borrowed it from J.K.F. Fischer’s E Major fugue in Ariadne Musica (a collection of preludes and fugues for organ in various keys that largely inspired Bach’s Well Tempered Clavier). I remember reading in a book one of my professors lent me that Fischer got that theme from somewhere else, possibly Frescobaldi. Heavens knows who he may have lifted it from.

Beethoven Bust

He stole it fair and square

To be fair to Beethoven and Mozart, in cases such as these where a musical theme may have been consciously borrowed from another composer’s work, it may be more accurate to interpret this as a gesture of tribute to the original composer. That’s what I keep telling myself anyways.

Back to Stravinsky, who’s most widely known work is probably the “Rite of Spring” (based on melodies derived from Russian folk songs no less, but I digress) which was featured in Disney’s Fantasia in the segment depicting the Earth’s prehistory including the extinction of the dinosaurs. Familiarize yourself with the opening melody if you will:

I have a theory that in many instances where a song is a hit, it is because the songwriter either consciously or unconsciously (I’ll give him/her the benefit of the doubt here) took another well known tune and rearranged it in some manner.

For instance, I’ve long believed that the first few measures of the keyboard melody from “No Quarter” by Led Zeppelin is based on the opening theme from Stravinsky’s “The Rite of Spring”. Listen and decide for yourself:

I also have a hunch that the theme from the Halo video game series is also based on the initial theme in “The Rite of Spring”. Listen closely to the second phrase:

massa chief

“Sorry Igor”

In the spirit of taking Stravinsky’s above quoted musical advice a little too literally, I thought it might be fun to attempt a dance remix using Stravinsky’s theme. Here’s a quick and dirty excerpt I cooked up one morning:

(©2013 Bryne Carruthers and Igor Stravinsky)

It uses a variation of the aeolian progression bVI-bVII-i that seems to be quite popular among dance hits in recent years (think Ke$a’s “Tik Tok” or LMFAO’s “Party Tonight” for the reverse progression) which is of course why I stole.. I mean used it here.

Many musicians and non-musicians alike no doubt feel that the trend in the past two decades of ‘sampling’ and ‘remixing’ other musician’s songs and recordings has signaled a decline in artistic quality in contemporary music in general. It may indeed be true, but this ongoing process of musical appropriation is almost certainly as old as humanity itself, if not considerably older (in other species), and advances in technology have seemed to not only accelerate this existing process but also make its occurrence much more obvious than it may have appeared before. That’s my theory at any rate.

With that said, I extend my apologies to Igor, but nonetheless, I stole that tune fair and square!

Until next time,

Bryne