I had been listening to a lot of Keith Kenniff’s work at the time, and especially his work under the moniker Goldmund. On these albums, he has this tendency to mic the piano so close, you hear all the physical inner workings of the instrument. Woven throughout his simple, elegant melodies are all the creaks and squeaks of wooden piano stools and aged pedal joints. The soft brushing of the hammers against one another, and the just-barely-audible percussion of the felt hitting the strings make you feel like you are sitting right there next to him as he plays. It’s truly the piano as the player hears it, and like I said, there’s something moving, even meditative about that closeness and delicacy.
So that’s the feeling I wanted to replicate with this piece. I wanted the melody to feel old and familiar, like a borrowed Appalachian folk tune, and I wanted the listener to feel the piece as I experience it, from the pronounced depression of the pedal at the beginning to the fading overtones at the end.
Most of our planet is covered in the stuff. A good portion of our bodies are made up of H2O. You don’t have to be told that water is important for us and our bodies. Like many things this is one detail of our lives that we think little about. Water is easily accessible and clean.
Clean water is hard to come by for a lot of people in the Global South. One particular country where this is true: Brazil. There are countless indigenous villages that live off the Amazon River and suffer from water born diseases because the river, au naturale, is not as clean as you might think. Operation Amazon is an organization who provides bio-sand water filters to aid in making clean and healthy water available to villages in the jungles of Amazonas. You can learn much more here: CLEAN WATER.
The music that is used in the video (above link) was a song that Tyler and I wrote and recorded together. It was another challenge in song writing because we had constraints to work with. When you write a song on your own the only limitations you have is yourself. When writing music for a video there are a lot of things you have to keep in mind.
Most importantly, you do not want to have your music overshadow what is being watched. It is there to support what is being shared in the visual production. The music must help emphasize the story line that is being played out. It should add a whole other layer to the piece that wouldn’t have been experienced otherwise. That alone is enough of a challenge to start with, outside of the other variables that come out of the initial constraints. The other side of the coin is that the strong parameters help build a guide that aids in the construction of the music.
Either way, we did write and record an entire original track for Operation Amazon. It turned out much better than I had anticipated. Tyler loves creating layer after layer of sonic goodness when he records music, and so he is responsible for helping add much of the depth that the song has to offer. My main contribution was the ch0rd progressions that everything is built upon, and we both provided our own particular skills in all the instruments that are heard in the song. This is very typical of how Tyler and I operate together.
Please listen, enjoy and consider what you may or may not drink on a daily basis.
The reason I mention all of this is because the basic melody is used for the Christian hymn, “Joyful Joyful, We Adore Thee.” Again, this is a very well known song. Unless you are not very familiar with Christian hymns. The lyrics were written as a poem by Henry Jackson van Dyke, a Presbyterian clergyman, and were intended to be put to music, specifically, the music for “Ode to Joy.”
It wasn’t until recently that I found an appreciation for this song. Outside of my childhood encounter with the melody, the first time I remember hearing “Joyful, Joyful…” was when I saw Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit. I won’t bother with any synopsis, but the song is in the movie and there is a modern twist added to it: a rap. Yes, in true 90’s fashion an archaic piece of culture is brought back into relevance by infusing some urban culture to it. So, I will just leave this link here (<– link) for you to familiarize yourself with it.
What I have recorded is just really basic acoustic version. I originally thought I might add more instrumentation to the track, but after the vocals were laid down it felt it would have been overkill. One of the goals I had for the song was to allow the listener to hear the room that everything was recorded in. I record in a small room that has hardwood floors, and I think that comes across in how it all sounds together. Overall, the room doesn’t have the greatest sound but when I want a rough, unbalanced tone it works out well.
The track is just an acoustic guitar and I sing all the vocal parts. It should be noted that I am quite the amateur when it comes to vocal harmonies. Very elementary. Oh, and the very end of the track has an odd twist. Enjoy.