exploring the creative and compositional process of everything

Love&War

The Song
Love & War compares the “fog of war” to the “fog of love”. It is about perceptions, projections, appearances, and assumptions. It is a comparison of the relationships between nations to the relationships between individuals. It is about how the truth eventually reveals itself within time, and usually after events already occurred. It is also about how power, strategy, motivations, and actions of nations, often seek the same gains and/or advantages as individuals.

The Process

The music of Love & War was originally inspired by a guitar melody that was improvised by musician and long-time <tfo> contributor, Ryan Rooney. The melody had surfaced during a number of our live improvised performances as a trio featuring Ryan Rooney on guitar, Matt Everett on viola and/or cello, and myself on electronics and mixing board.  This melody was then recorded in the studio, and served as the starting point for Love & War.

Love & War: Original Guitar Melody

An original Roland TR909 drum machine was used to composed the song’s drum track.  The 909 was put into 32nd note step mode, allowing for the drum sequences to contain fast hi-hat and snare rolls. It also allowed for a rolling kick drum sound at the beginning of each pattern.  Each drum sound was tracked separately so that they could be processed differently.  A phaser was applied to the 909 hi-hat track.

Love & War: Drum Section

The Guitars

An early and important influence on my musical identity was The Smiths.  While listening to Love & War in its early stages, I could hear layers of rhythm guitar, reminiscent of songs like The Boy With The Thorn In His SideThere Is A Light That Never Goes Out, and Bigmouth Strikes Again by The Smiths.  Another guitar studio session was arranged, and a variety of guitar overdubs were recorded including the rhythm guitar parts, and additional melodic parts for the chorus.  During these sessions, a bassline that Ryan composed and performed was also recorded.

Love & War: Rhythm Guitars with Bass Guitar

Love & War: Additional Guitar Melody, Bass Guitar and Piano

The Arrangement & Vocals

The guitar, bass and drum elements were then shaped into a rough arrangement, and a Korg Polysix synth pad (hardware, not the soft synth version) melody line was written for the chorus section using a preset that was specifically designed for this song.

Love & War: Chorus Polysix Synth Melody

With a basic structure, lyrics were developed through what has become a very common practice for me in lyrical development.  I had a few lines I had written down while listening to the song, and the took a number of stream of consciousness vocal recording passes over the song.  I would then extract additional lines from these vocal takes, and build more words around them until them formed into full verses and chorus sections.  With the lyrics fully arranged, I tweaked the rough arrangement to accommodate the vocals and recorded a final vocal track, doubling up on the voice for the chorus sections.

With the vocals complete, I took spent several studio sessions listening through the track and fine tuning the arrangement.  This included adding a reverse piano part, and a bridge that featured an aquatic textured Korg Polysix synth line that was gated with the Roland TR909 hi-hat track.

Love & War: Gated Polysix Aquatic Synth Melody

Once all the elements were record and arranged, it was time for the final mix, and the result being the recording you hear.

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