Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Moonshine Reggae

I will start a blog post series about my songs, about the influences they had, their instrumentation and any other useful information. Nowadays, when music is practically freely available, you can choose any music you like, but it's a challenge to find songs that really match your taste. I started to publish my own songs because they filled the gap between the musical styles that I listen to. They are sort of a synthesis of many influences that I had in my life.

Moonshine Reggae is, as its title may suggest, a reggae, but that's not that straightforward. It started with me looking out at the January moon, with small clouds floating by, and then a simple melody came to my mind. This circular sequence of notes is the basis for this song. Then I sat down and played that on my guitar... at that time I was listening to many songs of Antonio Carlos Jobim, so I invented a slowly moving chord progression like his songs have. Jobim is a great composer (just remember The Girl From Ipanema or Waters Of March) , and what I like the most of his songs is that the melody is often very simple, while the weirdest chords come to give the songs its colours. So there I had the scheme of a bossa song.

The sweet melodies and swinging upbeat reggae-ska rhythms of Rico Rodriguez (and Vin Gordon) gave me the idea to convert this bossa song to an instrumental reggae. That's where the sampled trombone theme came from (both are excellent Jamaican trombonists). At that time I didn't have any means (like a Zoom H2) to record my own trombone sound (I do own a trombone), so I had to use a sample. I added some reverb and delay to bring back those dub sounds (like in the songs of Yellowman in the 80's). That was the initial version.

After many listenings and having listened to some criticism I realized that the song was a little bit "empty", and because the programmed tunes it sounded sterile. By then I had my Zoom H2, so I added an ashiko (djembe-like hand drum) track (fully improvised!) and a tres (Cuban guitar with 3 pairs of strings) track to it. My tres sounded a bit like in the songs of Sierra Maestra, maybe because I also use a larger instrument body for my tres. Some notes went off-beat but I left that this way. My son was already sleeping and I didn't want to bother him.

Feel free to vote for this song at TheSixtyOne:

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