The Ateliers: Moon: Tonight
Welcome to the fifth entry of our Moon album blogs! In this episode, we will be discussing track number four on the album. We’ll talk instrumentation, and discuss the lyrics.
The instrumentation is pretty similar to our last few releases with the acoustic, cajon, and ukulele bass. We added a clarinet, a cello, and a tire drum. The acoustic is a bit different in this track because it is tuned to open Eb. It was also the first time we used the very first take all the way through. I thought I would end up doing about 50 takes but something pretty miraculous happened and we kept it. I did something crazy on the bridge that I definitely didn’t mean to do. At first I thought it was a mistake, but when I listened back, it sounded pretty cool. It was one of those moments where your body just kind of takes over and plays.
We had an awesome time writing for clarinet and cello for the chorus. We were so excited to have Torin Wright come back in to play cello because he did such an amazing job on “Give Me Dreams”. We tried a much more formulaic approach at first, but I think our process is best when Torin just plays freely over the track. Then Sam and I sing melodies to him, and he plays freely over the track again. We just do that over and over until it’s done! With this part in particular, I kept hearing the “Remember the Titans” theme so I knew that it would influence our melody a bit and you can hear some similar intervals if you listen close. We ended up with two parts for the cello and then thought it’d be amazing to also have two clarinet parts. Sam's gonna talk about her process of composing and arranging the clarinet to accompany the cello.
Writing the clarinet parts for this was such an incredible experience. This process was pretty different from how I usually write clarinet parts for our songs. Usually, I’d just play around until I found the notes that worked. Typically, these notes are long drones that are consistent underneath the melody. But with this song, it was different because the cello parts were already recorded. I had never written a part to another instrument. It was also interesting because I wasn’t writing a harmony for the cello, since there was already a cello harmony. We decided that the clarinet line should be a counter melody with its own harmony as a second layer. To create this counter melody, I listened to the cello and tried to play different notes with a different but complimentary rhythm. I had to make sure to write down the melodies I came up with (another thing I typically don’t do) so I wouldn’t forget them. It was also different in that I usually hear my clarinet lines as a whole. I hear a finished line that I then have to figure out how to play. They’re very natural to play. But with this song, I had to write piece by piece, making sure that whatever note I played fit perfectly with the cello. The line was built, and when it was finished, it was like listening to something I hadn’t heard before, because I hadn’t, really. I didn’t have that experience of hearing the melody line as a whole, like I normally do. It took a lot of trial and error, experimenting with different notes that I hadn’t explored in a while, but eventually we landed on something I’m ultimately proud of. It was one of my favorite parts to write and it was even more fun to play.
Alright, let’s talk about the writing process. From the date of the first voice memo I have, it seems I started writing it in May or June of 2017. The overall arrangement is very similar. I think the biggest difference over time is I learned that I was singing a bit flat for awhile. I would often times sing with my chest voice in a register that is more suited for a softer head voice.
A lot of this album is about slowing down and processing. In this song, night represents the time in which we are allowed to process and learn about ourselves and what we are experiencing. I was spending time with a friend who was dealing with anxiety and depression. At the time, they were always looking for that next thing to keep them going but more times than not, slowing down was the key to feeling better. This first verse is about how difficult it can be to slow down but how important it really is.
I’ve noticed that when things in my head are unprocessed, I tend to get really mad real fast. The situation at hand doesn’t justify how angry I get. For example, if I run out of peanut butter and then throw the empty peanut butter jar across the room, there’s probably something else going on. I’m not actually that angry about the peanut butter. It’s other things that I’m unaware of that make the current situation even worse.
One of my favorite lines is in the second verse - “She’s coping with the way she copes”. It is so interesting the cycles of addiction we get into because of unexpected pain. For example, in college, to cope with my lack of interest in any of the classes I was taking, I started smoking cigarettes. Then to cope with my cigarette addiction, I started chewing gum. Then to cope with my having no money for food because I spent it on cigarettes and gum, I would eat hot pockets and quesadillas every day, which probably led to more problems in my body which would then lead me to more coping mechanisms and so on and so forth. We have to learn what we want and what we need and break the cycles and habits that keep us from living the way we would like.
The same process could be explained in a positive reactionary cycle as well. For example, say that I finished a song last night, then woke up this morning and went surfing to celebrate. It was good, but I wished I felt stronger in the ocean so I could catch more waves. This thought would encourage me to do more pushups each day. Say I also felt a tightness in my back after, so I would foam roll my back and then probably my legs would be tight too so I would take care of them. I’ve been feeling pretty warm in the 60 degree ocean lately which reminds me how important my habit of taking cold showers is. Wim Hof breathing techniques have really helped. Before these, I was never comfortable in the Pacific Ocean.
These positive habits for me personally have all come from being more aware of myself and my environment. If we are able to pay attention to what we need and what is available around us, we will continue to grow. These last lines are all about keeping an eye out for that growth.
We hope you’ve found this interesting and maybe useful in your own creative endeavors!