MsP Production Blog

Archive for the ‘Lyrical Technique’ Category

The range of Harmony Speaks and covering Bomb Squad’s plot holes.

Tuesday, January 12th, 2010

Before I begin this particular post, I want to show what the usual process is for a project as it is being created.

Project Phase 1 – (
A beat has been made, and there are no concepts or anything yet; just a beat loop or an instrumental.

Project Phase 2 – (alpha):
The beat has been chosen for a possible song, with preliminary ideas for a concept, instrumental structured according to those ideas

Project Phase 3 – (beta):
Vocals have been recorded

Project Phase 4 – (release candidate):
All the vocals have been recorded; final mixing and mastering begins

Project Phase 5 – Final Release

Just to show you where we’re at, Bomb Squad is on Beta 14, which means that since the first vocals have been dropped, the song has gone through 13 subsequent mixes, including each mix where an added vocalist was recorded.  At this point, only two have not recorded anything yet (Harmony Speaks and I) and one (Destiny Soprano) needs to re-record.

I made a few miscalculations and the lyrics I wrote down for Speaks’s part (now looking in retrospect) were definitely subpar.  We ran through it yesterday, and we came down to the conclusion that what was originally planned wasn’t going to work.

The song is in Eb minor, and on the first bar (an Eb minor chord), the melody leads off with a Bb5.  Speaks finds that hitting a B5 is pushing, so even a half step lower would sound slightly strained.  The first half of the verse stays within a few notes below it, which is at the very higher end of Speaks’s range.

For those who are lost, the note C4 would be middle C.  If you look at a piano, the C that’s in the direct middle of the piano is Middle C, or C4.  From there, you would count up through the notes.  C4, C#4, D4, D#4, etc. until you hit C5, then continue the trend upward.  Going down would be the opposite.  C4, B3, Bb3, A3, etc.

Speaks’s range, I guess, would be classified as a mezzosoprano, which would be from A3 to A5.  That’s about right, since A5 would be a full step below the note that I guess would be the mezzo-soprano singer’s equivalent of what people call a “max” in lifting.

This was the first issue with the draft we tried yesterday.  The second were the lyrics and rhythm; neither of which were to par.  Since her part is pretty much expository, some of the words needed for it sound really unnatural for a singer.  The flow also wasn’t natural and it was choppy because of the words needed.  Substituting different words took away from the exposition.  The exposition is needed because it would cover a plot hole.

Basically, regrouping was necessary.

My thought now is that Speaks’s part can’t be a singing part, since specific things about the situation need to be said.  Since I’ve concluded that using some of those words needed sound very unnatural (or like some Broadway Action Musical of some sort, for example, “defuse the bomb”), she’ll need to speak what needs to said.

Since ADM and I are speaking in two different parts of the song, it would help if there was a break in the action for further exposition at a midway point between the introduction when we first bust in the door, and the other part recorded where we discuss defusing the bomb.  It would be expo-verse-verse-expo-verse-verse-expo.

I have no problem with her speaking the part, but I do want Speaks to sing in some way.

I’m starting to think: what if she naturally did choir oohs or ahhs, in three part harmony in the back during the exposition?  We strip the original instrumentation from those 8 bars, and she can do the backing in three part vocal harmony.

Right now this seems like a good idea.  I’ll post results later on.


“Call to Arms” finally done!

Saturday, January 9th, 2010

So “Call to Arms” is finally done, and you can listen to it on my Facebook page.  This is a fight song, I guess.  The concept of it is to bring a feeling of rallying your group, team, crew, company, whatever into focus and unite them into a common cause charging the battlefield, court, stadium or whatever applies.

There’s a lyrical sequence in the second verse that I particularly like, because of the double meanings:

“Make moves, hustle and pay dues //
Rocking the blue collar or Blue Man Group, gang bangers //
Blue bandanas cockin them hammers //
Mix them with the Red you get Purple, light it up! //”

So we go from blue collar (manual labor class, like construction workers), to Blue Man Group (theatrical production), to blue bandanas (referring to the Crips), mix it with the red (referring to the Bloods), you get Purple (the secondary color mix from red and blue, and also known as a type of marijuana).

Jay-Z is awesome at the double entendre, and I want to continue using that technique and also layer it with metaphors and similes in the classical sense.

Another thing to note about this song is the sample used in it.  It’s from the video game Final Fantasy VI, when you enter the kingdom of Figaro.  I actually had a few versions of using this sample and I finally settled on one where the auxiliary instruments in the song can stand alone and still carry the song and the horns of the sample can accentuate it.  It gives it a feel of royalty, and I guess that’s where the feeling of solidarity comes from and where I got the concept for it.

Only one song left for this album.  Maybe FINALLY, Phase 3 can come out.. only FIVE years after Phase 2. =]  I feel very strongly about this album and I have enough powerful solo songs in here to perform and promote.

Phase 4 won’t take nearly as long, as Phase 3 marks the end of this particular trilogy, and this album will be made with no existing preconditions and will blueprint the next two subsequent phases.  No signs of stopping for me, music is in my blood. =]





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