Friday, May 1, 2009

Viva la Vida (Innuendo)

Today was a wonderful day. This afternoon/evening was recording our a cappella group's latest album. In four long years, not a note has graced a disk of electronically printed plastic...until now. 13 tracks of instrument-less harmonic heaven.

From about 4.30 until 8.30 we discussed, recorded, rehearsed, and ate. Kudos to Mr. and Mrs. Johnston for feeding us: they were absolutely wonderful. Pimento cheese and chicken; bagel bites and cookies; strawberries and grapes - quite the feast for a recording session.

Really, it was a fantastic way to end my time with the group. Not only were we really productive, but we got to hang out and goof off for quite a while. After all the recording was done, we gathered out on the back porch and listened to some of the rough cuts of our songs. Surprisingly, they sounded really good for even being rough takes. The best one was watching "Push" on the gauges. Nancy hits this fantastic note just after the bridge - the sort of thing that makes people happier just listening to it - and when the volume tracker shot up to its highest peak in the whole song, everyone cheered as if we'd just seen an impressive touchdown in a football game.

The end of T.I.'s "Dead and Gone" was another fantastic moment for a bunch of musically-minded kids. A clean cut-off with a short crescendo on a tenuto quarter note on an A-minor chord: the tall open vowels made it a thing of beauty. The whole song was great anyway: a nice spread of tones running the gamut from the highest of the high (an A-natural above the staff from Yours Truly and the rest of the soprano section) to the lowest of the low (some Ds and beyond for the basses). The fullness of the chords - being so spread out over so many octaves, made for quite the pleasant listening experience - even if the feeling of hitting some of those outlying notes left something to be desired.

"Crash" of Dave Matthews' Band fame was another good couple minutes. I think that's the best those harmonies have sounded in all three years I've sung them. All G#s in tune, the bass line syncopation in perfect time, and (thank the blessed stars) dynamics! What must it say about my life that a 4 measure crescendo starting at a real pianissimo and ending at a real fortissimo excites me? That last came from our wonderful rendition of Coldplay's "Viva la Vida." Joe's controlled vibrato deserves some props - that's the best performance of that song he's given, which is great since it's been preserved for posterity thanks to about six or seven microphones and the talents of a great surgeon (his line was "it's just my day-job").

What a way to end the year...what a way to end the three years.

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