Canadian Musician - July-August 2022 - Page 52

what the palette will be and if we ’ re going to record live players . The last film I scored , Outpost ( a thriller directed by Joe Lo Truglio ), had a very traditional orchestral score for the first half and shifted into a retro electronic score for the third act . Depending on the scene , I may start with sustained evolving pads and grow the melody out of it .
For original releases unrelated to film / TV , I patch surf until I find something inspiring . Sometimes an inspiring patch is the foundation for the whole piece . Though if I ’ m doing more traditional pop music , I ’ ll find a piano-like instrument to get started . I ’ ve been really into Teletone ’ s Scarbo for retro key sounds lately . It depends on the track , though . The last original song I co-wrote / produced with Sarah MacDougall started by holding down the E key with a simple 1 / 8 arpeggiator using the Arturia OB-Xa V . Then I layered a meandering vocal overtop in the major chord ; that was the verse . I go with whatever causes inspiration to strike .
Shamus Currie : This is a real issue . There are so many options for tone and instrumentation out there that choosing one can be overwhelming . Sometimes imposing limitations on yourself can increase your creativity . I often stick with the sonic palette I feel comfortable with ( electric pianos , Hammonds , vintage keyboard sounds ). If I ’ m making music for a specific media project , I ’ ll try to use instrumentation that aligns closely to the themes of whatever I ’ m working on .
Kris Davis : I ’ m not much a gear head . I ’ m still trying to figure out how to bring more colours out of the piano , which is why I often prepare the piano with various materials like gaffer tape , erasers , and magnets . I did purchase an Arturia MicroFreak during the pandemic and started incorporating it into my bands / compositions , often doubling the piano parts to vary the orchestrations .
Nick Dourado : Some of the most amazing advice I ever got from my teacher was , “ You don ’ t come up with what to play ” and “ music doesn ’ t come from the imagination , it comes from reality .” In this sense , the only tool I ’ m using is to listen deeply and broadly . I ’ m inspired by the potential capacities of electric / electronic / synthesized / digitalized sound ; but I find myself more and more drawn to recordings of acoustic instruments by masters like Bechet , Hodges , Holiday , or the Pres , Hawk or Bean , where the entire human physiology is activated as resonators and filters .
CM : How do you approach writing parts , and where do you start ?
Bliss : I start with being conscious of and learning the melodies the other instruments are playing , not just guitar / bass , but vocal melodies and drum rhythms . My part ’ s often somewhere in there . If not , those lead me to it . Atmosphere is important in all music , and that ’ s my primary task in Monster Truck . I ’ m always paying attention to making the right sound to fit the part . But it ’ s also important to stand out and have the right sound for the hook .
Comeau : A Crown Lands song usually comes from a riff I ’ ve come up with , with Cody [ Bowles , the singer / drummer ]. There ’ s a lot of writing / editing , re-writing / re-editing , on the spot . It can become quite granular , and sometimes you miss the forest for the trees . A lot of our music comes from jamming with our phone voice memo app running for an hour . Then we listen to that jam for a few days until the good stuff reveals itself . When it comes to keyboard parts , I find myself going to my Sequential OB-6 for its intuitive sequencer , which helps with writing multiple parts at once in a session .
When I ’ m writing parts , I ’ ll usually try to write the most rhythmically complex riff possible ; in 5 / 4 or 7 / 8 or 11 / 8 or something silly like that . Then our producer , David Bottrill , asks me to rewrite it in a more listenable time signature . That usually works .
Copeland : Usually , I ’ ll start with a vocal melody and rough lyrics and build from there . Right now , I ’ m into blended sounds and production , where the vocals feel like a part of everything rather than sitting on top . Generally , I put together a basic structure , creating markers in Ableton , indicating verse / pre / chorus / bridge , etc ., then lay down basic chords or root bass notes to sing over . I ’ ve usually got a vocal melody in voice memos I want to put down that steers the production . I might throw in a kick / simple beat to sing scratch vocals over . Once I have a decent scratch vocal , things get fun on the production side , experimenting to find the heart of the sound .