Facebook Live Concert Tonight, 7:30 EST

Dear friends! Please join me in about 30 minutes (at 7:30PM EST) for a Facebook Live Concert at facebook.com/lukeslott. I’m at the midpoint of my East Coast US Tour and I’ll be live-streaming tonight’s ‘Evening of Music & Stories’ – live from Washington! I’d love you to join in, wherever you are. Luke

 

East Coast US Tour, May/June 2017

Dear friends,

I will be doing a special 6-week tour of the East Coast of the US in May/June. Details are in the video below and you’ll find the full list of dates on lukeslott.com/tour.

To all my friends on the East Coast, I hope to see you next month! x

Direct Video Link: facebook.com/lukeslott/videos/10154232893961148

Community


Dear friends –

Today Year of the Nightingale is officially released.

That means the album is now available to everyone, everywhere, at the online store of your choice.

The day of an album release is always a day for celebration but I feel a quiet calm surrounding today’s release. The real celebration happened 7 months ago – on September 1st 2016 when a community of friends got together on Kickstarter and, in the space of 24 hours, raised the funds to make this happen. If anything, the album itself is a celebration of community.

On my website, I’ve created a new ‘Community’ page to acknowledge everyone who has supported the making of the album. If you’re a Kickstarter, you’ll find your name at lukeslott.com/community

From the inside, today feels like the end of a long journey. Sharing the songs, their stories and our creative process with you during the last month has felt like a special gift and it’s a period that Kelly and I, and all the musicians on the album will always treasure.

But today really marks the true beginning of the life of the album as it wanders out into the world to create a story of its own. Who knows where it will go or whose ears it will reach… Whoever it reaches, we hope it brings them a little of whatever they’re in need of – comfort, healing, patience, freedom, peace.

Later this year, Kelly and I will begin production on the Twin Album due for release in 2019. In the meantime, you can find Year of the Nightingale on iTunes, Spotify and, of course, music.lukeslott.com

With my deepest thanks always,

Luke x

 

A Conversation with Rainn Wilson

Dear friends,

Huge thanks to everyone who has Pre-Ordered the album and songbook over the last few days! Year of the Nightingale will be officially released on all platforms (iTunes, Spotify etc.) next Saturday, April 1st.

If you’re pre-ordering the album on music.lukeslott.com you will automatically receive your digital download on April 1st (and your CDs and songbooks will be in the mail around that time too!)

In the meantime, if you’d like to hear a bit more about the story behind the album, I recently had a very enjoyable conversation with the American actor and comedian Rainn Wilson on his podcast. Rainn and I talked about growing up in Dublin, learning about the Bahá’í Faith, moving to New York, and meeting the musicians who would become my collaborators on the new album.

Our full conversation – including an acoustic rendition of ‘Beauty‘ – is on YouTube here: https://youtu.be/DLL2JxKlVRc

With my deepest thanks always,

Luke x

🎉 Naw Ruz (New Year) Announcement 💿

Dear friends!

With the arrival of Naw Ruz (‘New Day’) the first copies of Year of the Nightingale are winging their way to all the Kickstarter Supporters (our patrons!) who helped us make the album.

On Saturday April 1st the album will be officially released for everybody on music.lukeslott.com

Below is a special Naw Ruz message about the public release of the album.

Happy Naw Ruz everyone! 🎉🕺🎉

Luke x

🎉Naw Ruz Announcement about the Official Album Release 🎉

Direct Video Link: facebook.com/lukeslott/videos/10154153320236148

Producer’s Postscript 🎧

Hi friends,

As part of her reflections on the making of Year of the Nightingale, Kelly has added this illuminating Postscript about Dominion.

I think you’ll find it brings the journey to a fitting close.

Thank you Kelly.

Luke

Producer’s Postscript on Dominion

by Kelly Snook

Dear Friends, I forgot that I had wanted to share another note about the musical symbolism in Dominion.

Two weeks ago when I was on one of my long flights, I listened to the whole album many times through. I was reflecting on the songwriting, song order, and various aspects of chord progressions and melodies employed to create different moods. As I said in my Dominion notes, we had known for a relatively long time that we wanted the song to be last. Intuitively, it seemed obvious, but I was reflecting on it so I could articulate why.

Then I noticed something incredible. There is a chord progression that is one of the most common ways to create tension and resolution in Western Music: the ii-V-I. I would be very surprised if it’s not the most widely used chord progression in all of western music, including pop, rock, jazz, and classical music. From Wikipedia:

“ii–V–I progressions are extremely common in jazz. They serve two primary functions, which are often intertwined: to temporarily imply passing tonalities, and to lead strongly toward a goal (the “I” chord).”

In this Hidden Word, the goal is clear: for us not to fear death, everyone’s final goal. Musically, the song teases the final chord of the ii-V-I progression from the beginning, never quite delivering it until the VERY end of the song. As I sat on the plane listening to the movement from major to minor in each moment of the song and reflecting on the differences in tone for each word in the Writing, that in itself was enough to bring me to tears, but then when I noticed the final ii-V-I and became conscious of the final resolution of the song, that was even more profound.

I then got curious about the songs leading up to it. First mentally and then in my headphones I went backwards through all of the songs to check the chord progressions and didn’t find a single ii-V-I resolution until track 4! That means that for the entire second half of the record, we don’t hear or feel this strong resolution until the last notes of the last song on the album. The choice to end a song about death with a ii-V-I to a major chord is, I think, songwriting genius! But I’m not sure Luke was even consciously aware of this, showing how truth and beauty can be expressed through music in mysterious, deeply profound ways.

So final does this ending feel that it never occurred to Luke or me, when agonizing over song order, that anything would ever come after Dominion until the CD started repeating in my car and the first notes of Beauty came in. That was the one transition we never thought to check, and thank Goodness it works – the first notes of Beauty ever so gently pull one back down to Earth after that otherworldly transport of Dominion.

Direct YouTube Link: https://youtu.be/pVCkc3n9DOA

Producer’s Notes 10 – Dominion

Dear friends,

Happy Naw Ruz! While I’m looking forward to the year ahead, I’m a little sad that today’s post is Kelly’s final installment of her Producer’s Notes from Year of the Nightingale. It’s been a very special time sharing these songs and their stories with you. Thank you for reading, listening, supporting! Luke x

Year of the Nightingale Producer’s Notes Vol. 10

by Kelly Snook

Song: Dominion (release date 19 March, 2017)
Words: The Hidden Words of Bahá’u’lláh, Part 1, No 14
Key: E major / C# minor
Meter: 4/4
YouTube Link: https://youtu.be/pVCkc3n9DOA

The sun rose without fanfare this morning over the east coast of Tasmania, starting this New Year off with quiet confidence. I sat on the beach and reflected on Dominion, wondering how I could possibly fit everything there is to say about this song into a blog post. We have known for a long time that we wanted to end the album with this song – we can’t imagine what could come after it.

Nearly every moment of the recording of this song, which spanned eight years, was imbued with an indescribable sense of potency and magic. The original piano and vocals were recorded live at 3am in the atrium of the MIT Media Lab on the historic Bosendorfer piano, with mics placed several stories up inside the huge space to capture the reverb. Luke did several takes – each different and each at its own tempo, free from any kind of metronome or click track. This live-recording technique combined with subtle differences in mics, room noise, and other variables, meant that we knew from the outset that it would be very difficult and time consuming to try to edit different takes together. So I was listening extra carefully during the recording process. I remember so clearly the moment he played this take! All my hair stood on end and every synapse in my brain seemed to fire at once. I knew instantly that this was the one!
It wasn’t perfect – there were extraneous piano noises caused by the very MediaLab-esque machinery that had been added onto the piano – the first every MIDI-controllable piano. There were giant air compressors just behind a thin door there in the basement. There were people walking through the space. Nevertheless, this was the take that we had to use, and the one that all other instruments were recorded to.

The Atrium at the MIT Lab

A year or two later there was an epic snowstorm in Washington DC. People still refer to that storm as Snowmageddon. What it meant for us is the most blissful possible recording environment in my second story urban loft that usually suffered from inescapable city noise pollution, the worst of which was the McDonald’s trash trolley that rumbled down the alley under my windows every couple of hours. But not on this magical day! It was on this day (if memory serves me correctly) that we recorded, among other things, Jason Rafalak’s gorgeous detuned bowed bass and all of the experimental, fragile bridgework that was only possible in such silence.

Towards the end of last summer, Luke and I decided we needed more of a build in the middle of Dominion. We added 23 layers of trumpets for just one moment in the song! I captured a bit of this during a fit of present-moment-nostalgia, knowing this would be his last trumpet notes recorded in the barn.

23 Layers of Trumpets

The recording complete and mostly mixed, but a huge problem still plagued this song. There was so much noise in the original MIT piano, vocal, and reverb mics that we realized we wouldn’t be able to use it unless we were able to clean up the noise. However, there were 6 mics with variable phasing issues and multiple edit points that made any sort of automated noise reduction, such as what you’d normally use with audio editing software, impossible. I realized that cleaning up this audio was far beyond anything I’d ever attempted, and I had little confidence or hope. I sent Luke home one evening and kept at it, but each time, if i was able to remove the noise, too many other artifacts were introduced and the piano/vocal sounded terrible. Broken-hearted and panicked, I briefly had a go at re-recording Luke’s piano part note for note, because the vocal mic wasn’t as noisy as the piano. If I could just get a clean piano track, all would be well in my world. Several hours later, even though I’d played the notes exactly the same as Luke, the magic wasn’t there – something intangible that was absolutely impossible to recapture or recreate. When Luke came back the next morning, the problem still wasn’t solved. I remember there being many tears. We consulted about what to do – we even, in our desperation, considered starting from scratch, but it would have been impossible to time it with all the other instruments, and even more impossible to reach the perfection of that original take. We consulted about leaving it off the record.

But I couldn’t let it go. I HAD to fix it. I’d created the problem with my way-too-fancy experimental recording techniques, and I couldn’t bear the responsibility of killing it. Even though we were ridiculously pressed for time, I asked Luke to give me just a bit more time.

So then I summoned ALL of my rocket science powers – all of my prayers and hope. In the studio there were photos of two women, always looking over us: Martha Root and my grandmother, Wilma Lowell. Luke and I often called on them, with our own special nicknames for them, to assist us in moments of tests. Across the room was a famous photo of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá holding a young girl. I literally, out loud in the studio, begged them all for help, and then I leaned in to the science. Track by track, moment by moment, I manually lined up all of the phasing problems. I bypassed all the noise software settings, delved into the intricate details of the physics and tried several trillion different combinations of parameters. I don’t know how many hours it took, but the next morning when Luke came back, our tears were of joy and relief!

The irony of our utter fear and panic at the possible premature death of this song (“wherefore fearest thou thy perishing?”) wasn’t lost on us. But, science wins again! This song literally takes my breath away every time.

Thank-you again to all of you for following along in our process. I am forever grateful to have worked on it.    I will miss these reflections! I can’t wait for the next record.

YouTube Link: https://youtu.be/pVCkc3n9DOA

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