Monday, September 21, 2009

Song of the Week # 2 - "Virtual Light"

The second song from the new CD is the title track, "Virtual Light" (4:52).

This one started out as a blues riff I was playing with that I decided to shift into the Phrygian mode (3rd mode of the major scale: 1 b2 b3 4 5 b6 b7) to see what that particular meat grinder would do to it. Turned out I liked it. I also add (due to the blues angle) the b5, so the scale often alludes to Locrian.

So I'm jamming away on it and I think of my buddy Greg Francis. Greg, for those who don't know him, was the center of the project "Pharoah" which then morphed into "Akhanon". Most know him from his later work as bassist/vocalist for Beholder. Greg's solo music often featured phrygian flavors (he went the Egyptian rather than Spanish route).

Anyway, that led me to think of his lyrical work as well as literary work. Greg used various themes, but he often used the "past, present, future" - hence the symmetry of reference from verse to verse (v-1 past, v-2 present, v-3 future) in "Virtual Light" (lyrics below).

It also led me to place each verse in a different octave. The song is in F#m phrygian (the b5 notwithstanding), which allows for some demanding low notes. I opted to use my natural voice rather than the "fry" or "burn" range for the first verse; natural voice for the second (as it falls easily there); then rejected the falsetto option and stayed again with my natural range for the final verse, making this a VERY demanding piece to sing.

I took this to Blue, who added some incredibly flowing but sophisticated harmonies & some cool percussion that, in my opinion, really pull the song together - especially her execution of the repeated vocal theme before each verse (tipping the hat to Plant) and the ghost vocals in the bridge - taking it from a conceptually interesting but not altogether listenable song to one of our funnest songs to play in the live set.

Performance note: Coming out of the bridge I hold a vocal note that last for about 15 seconds, which is impressive only until you realize that Blue begins a breath at the opening of the bridge, through all her melodies, and lasts until the end: 23 seconds!!!

"Desert silence in this labyrinth of sand
as we carve our personal history in stone.
Starlight, stone cuts skin, and design reveals the hand
that seals a promise to never be alone. the virtual light...

Urban silence in this labyrinth of steel
as we spray our history upon the wall.
Electric light, ink cuts skin, a design of perfect will
seals our promise that we'll never be alone. the virtual light...

Digital silence in this labyrinth of mind
as we carve our history in silicone.
Virtual light cuts skin, and the hand reveals design
and we realize that we can never be alone. the virtual light..."

Listen to it HERE!

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