Thoughts On Today’s SkyFall For Orchestra
The other week randomfanboy wanted my “thoughts” posts to be longer, and since I have a lot to say, I agree. So here we go…
I began arranging this song 2 months ago since the day it came out, but I couldn’t quite get into it and I wasn’t sure why. I mentioned before that I’m thrilled with arranging cover songs, but this didn’t feel like something I was thrilled to do - it felt like work. So after it sat half-finished for over a month, I pushed it away in hopes that my muse would find me like it has in the past.
Then last month when Disney informed me I couldn’t release my Gravity Falls piece, I had to re-arrange and rewrite Gravity Falls as an entirely original piece of music… and that’s where things changed for me. Simply put - that was the muse. Having to rearrange the pieve to sound nothing like the original gave me the idea for SkyFall.
For the first time in years, I had written a 100% original song rather than a straight ahead cover song. Then I realized that the simple adaptation of music wasn’t my muse, putting my own personal stamp on these songs was!
After writing that original song, I felt so inspired that I immediately went to my SkyFall arrangement to rewrite it from the ground up. If it was in the original version I didn’t want it. I didn’t want the same rhythmic patterns in Adele’s vocals, drums, or verse-chorus-verse-chorus structure as the original.
In hindsight I realize that I was unmotivated because I was falling into the trap that I always talk about - my arrangements were getting stale and predictable. While I always add original music in my arrangements, I didn’t realize how important that is. Not only is it important, it’s the whole reason for fororchestra. If you want to listen to an orchestra cover, there tons of those. If you want to listen to a rock and roll cover of any song, then the world has plenty of those too.
But what the world’s art doesn’t have yet is you. It doesn’t have your version, paint stroke, vision, film adaptation, or your novel. It doesn’t have your mind, passion, thoughts, or style.
I was afraid that if I steered from the original too far then no one would enjoy it, notice it, or buy it (and then how would I eat? eek!). But that’s the wrong to go about it, which brought me to my muse.
For this arrangement, you hear me. You hear my attitude, my unchained melodies and desires that I always wanted to add in but was afraid to. You hear my frustration with writer’s block. I studied and transcribed dozens of versions so I could understand the song better. I questioned myself “what is my audience expecting? what are they not expecting? what will confuse them? surprise them?”
For the first time, I wrote heavy violin tremolos to create a tense call-and-response between the woodwinds and the strings. I have the drums playing loud, yet subdued, until the violin solo enters into the ‘drop’ before the final chorus.
In addition, the bassoon gets most of the verse’s melody. This is because I felt I rarely write solos for it. It’s not that I dislike the instrument, it’s actually one of my favorites. The problem usually arises with my writing style - how can such a low bass instrument pierce through a full orchestra ensemble and be heard?
Structurally, I took the melody and stretched it so the drums could play in halftime. I then had something to work with, and so I began to color the song around the percussion section
In the end it all came together. When I first began arranging this piece it felt rushed, and too much like I was chasing “the hot thing” since the movie had just been released, which didn’t motivate me. I gave up on it in frustration and shuffled it away.
But in a true James Bond fashion, I returned to it so it didn’t defeat me. And in that, I learned a lesson.
The Double Check
Whenever I upload a song, within 10 minutes I’ll think of a better ending and scream “It would have sounded SO MUCH better if I thought of adding it sooner! Too late :(“
This double check has become standard in my music before I publish it. Now when I finish a song, instead of uploading it, I’ll go to bed and listen to it the next morning to double check it.
Every single time I think of something better - the difference is that now I’ve learned to relisten to a piece ove and over again BEFORE it’s too late.
This is also the case with SkyFall. It’s coming out 3 weeks late, and has seen setback after setback. Burned out, iTunes holiday store hours disallowing me to upload it, and lack of inspiration of new ideas to finish it.
Tonight as I was about to upload it I thought of another idea. And now I’m done the piece.
Something like this gets me upset because I can’t control it. I need to upload new music because I need to eat. I can’t afford to hold back new releases. Yet, at the same time I can’t release something I’m not passionate to stand behind and put my name on it for you all.
So without further ado, SkyFall is done. I’ve learned so much from this piece it was insane.
You will all see what I mean when you hear it. It took a lot out of me, but when assessing all that I grew from it, it also put a lot back into me.
Thoughts On Adele ‘Set Fire To The Rain’ For Orchestra
“It was dark and I was over / Until you kissed my lips and you saved me”
The love this composition. I love these lyrics.
I thought about their meaning, and how sometimes we think our lives are dark, lonely, worthless, worn out, and over. It seems some times our heads are held so low, that we forget there is someone else who is quietly cheering for us – quietly reaching out their hand to help us up.
And Adele’s words speak about a kiss having saved her. While it refers to a loved one who has her head over heels, it’s relative to any time someone helps up. A kiss, to me, is symbolic of someone accepting you, letting you know they identify with you, and that they care about you.
It can be a fan to a musician. An employer to an employee. A mother to her child. A true friend to another. A judge to an outlaw on behalf of the victim’s family. Or a partner to his/her loved one.
When our heads are down and eyes are somber, we have to pay attention to those who are reaching out to us.
So when times are tough, we have to keep our heads up. While this orchestra instrumental piece has no vocals, it has lyrics – and that’s the beauty of this piece.