Self Worth

And it pleases me to announce my final track of 2014, Self Worth.  Before I get into the details of the track, I wanted to share a story.  You see, as I’m writing tracks, there’s often a story in my head.  Sometimes the story comes later in the writing process, sometimes I have it before I even begin.  Either way, the stories seem to line up with some part of me.  Many of my tracks have them, although I haven’t done a very good job of elaborating on those stories.  I thought I’d try my hand this time around.

Self Worth


Imagine if you will, a person, and a song.  Their song.  A song that illustrates the beauty of their soul.  Timeless, beautiful, and unique.  If you’ve ever heard this song, your know from deep within just what this song is, and what this song means.

Imagine a girl, she sings this song.  Her song.  Every day, she wakes up, and every time her mouth opens, this song comes pouring out like an avalanche, coming down a mountain.  Everyone knows she see sings this song; they yearn to here it.  They come from all around, from every corner of the earth, to sit and listen.

At least, most people.  There are some who want the song for themselves.  They cannot sing and are envious of this young woman’s gift of something beautiful.  Their envy turns to rage, and their rage turns to violence.  In their villainous gluttony they try to take the song for themselves.  But they can’t, they’ll never be able to sing the song.  So they break her.

Torn and tattered the girl’s voice fades to nothing.  She stops singing.  Suddenly, the song is no more.  The world goes quiet, and everyone is equal, and dismal, all at once.

But there is one problem, this girl cannot be herself if she is not singing.  And the universe requires, above all, that one is true to themselves.  A genetic disposition, if you will, but she must sing.  And so, after some time, she begins to sing again.

However, she has changed.  The song, it sounds different.  The sounds are different, yet the melody is the same.  Just as pretty, but tarnished.

Analysis and general nerdy stuff

When I was writing this song I had a couple of goals.  I wanted to write something not in 4/4 and I wanted to change keys in the song.  The time signature ended up being 5/8 and the original melody came from an exercise I did when I was working through a music theory book.  The melody was a big longer and more drawn out originally, and it sat on the shelf for a couple of years.

Actually, I found where it all started, check this out:

You can see what I kept in the final track.  I have a habit of writing loops that take up all the space, and then as I layer other instruments, cutting them out and letting them breath.   Especially melodies that I wrote a long time ago.

I fiddled and fiddled and wrote a couple of violin melodies.  After that I added some counter point with the cellos.  I, love, cellos.

I ended up wanting a more or less limited electronic engagement in the song, so the next thing that followed were the drums.  I spent a lot of time trying to program something with one shots in battery and it just wasn’t happening.  I ended up using a different software BFD to do the drums.  The software provides a lot of different articulations, and so it was much easier to program a realistic sounding kit with it since that’s what I was going for.

Then the song sat on the shelf for a while.  I couldn’t quite figure out the key change.  Research solved this problem, and I ended up implementing a more or less text book modulation based on a pivot chord.  The idea is relatively simple, you find a chord that exists in both keys, you use that as a transition, and then do a couple of perfect cadences in the new key.  That’s effectively what happens during the bridge.

The bridge ended up being a bit too sparse, so I added echo-y clips of the primary melody.  Switching keys for the melody during the modulation proved to be difficult, so I got fun with effects and automation to fill the space up a little bit.

Structure-wise I was hoping to re-use the parts as best I could without getting overly repetitive.  I weave the spiccato in and our of various legato melodies to try to keep things moving.  There’s a nice contrast between the spiccato and legato that I thought worked well, so I tried to take advantage of that.  Layering the spiccato underneath the legato also helped bring the energy of the song up a notch.  All the strings were from LA Scoring strings.  Everything is an 8 bar chunk, with the exception of the bridge, which is 16.

I also sort of tried to tease at the key change up front.  I wonder how well that comes across.  Like, musical foreshadowing.  Anyway, I welcome your feedback, and thanks for listening.


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