Producers’ Notes – Beauty

We are all so delighted by your response to Beauty! 🙂 Thank you to everyone for sharing the song and for all your messages. We can’t wait to release the second song tomorrow at 6:31am, Tehran time!

Today I wanted to introduce a series of special guest posts by Kelly Snook, the producer and principle sound engineer of the album. Beginning today – and on every other day between song releases – Kelly will share her “Producer’s Notes” to give you an inside look into the creative process behind each song.

Enjoy!…

Producers’ Notes Vol 1: Beauty

by Kelly Snook

There are so many stories and details to share from the making of Year of the Nightingale that Luke and I could write a book. But we thought during this time-release of the album, we could post just a few notes that might shed some additional light on the music.

Song: Beauty
Words: Prayer of Bahá’u’lláh CLXVIII
Key: Db Major
Meter: 4/4

We chose Beauty to be first on the album for a few reasons. It was one of the first songs we started (in 2008), one of the first we declared finished (in 2011), and one of the last that we actually finished (in 2016). The elaborate mix of vocal parts (layers upon layers of them!) and the rich tapestry of drums and instruments proved daunting to balance! As a finished work, though, we feel it nicely represents the flavor and sets the tone of the album.

The first words of the prayer were particularly meaningful yesterday, which marked the first day of the 19-day fasting month for Bahá’ís around the world: “O my Lord! Make Thy beauty to be my food, and Thy presence my drink…” The overarching goal of this arrangement was to create something both delicious and nutritious for the soul.

For all the songs on the album we worked, with as much excellence as we could muster and often in deliberate consultation, to create melodies, harmonies, and musical arrangements that revolve around and musically symbolize the words of Bahá’u’lláh. This song begins with a delicate layering of guitar patterns cycling between dissonance and resolution, which might represent cycles of struggle and relief, or crisis and victory, that characterize growth. Diane’s and Luke’s voices enter an octave apart – in the most perfect of harmonies – and continue this way throughout the first half of the prayer, until the plea is for a dwelling place that is sanctified from the limitations of those who are “shut out as by a veil…” At this point, as if to imagine freedom from limitation, new instruments such as the mandolin (the dwelling place), the saxophone (sanctity), and the bass enter, the harmonies split into thirds (with an additional triad harmony in the sax), and a driving rhythm is introduced by the drums. Words are repeated to underscore the sources of limitation, and then everything calms down again for a moment with the return to the original theme.

Slowly, the three of names of God that close the prayer are chanted, again in octaves, and a kind of mantra begins. The saxophone re-enters and boldly starts to orchestrate its liberation after a brief period of blind imitation. New voices echo and the drums gently explore their own dimensions of freedom. Vocal harmonies in thirds, and later fifths, build upon the main mantras and upon the echoes, while the saxes and drums find more and more joy and freedom from their previous constraints. New patterns of play and power result in a glorious intertwining of energy until everything eventually finds deeper, more celebratory patterns. And then, like magic, everything organically relaxes. Finally, the mandolin and bass offer ascending chords that mercifully reach the tonic (rather than oscillating endlessly), as if to represent a rising to a higher dwelling place, and this brings the listener to a peaceful and hopeful resolution.

Full prayer:
“O my Lord! Make Thy beauty to be my food, and Thy presence my drink, and Thy pleasure my hope, and praise of Thee my action, and remembrance of Thee my companion, and the power of Thy sovereignty my succorer, and Thy habitation my home, and my dwelling-place the seat Thou hast sanctified from the limitations imposed upon them who are shut out as by a veil from Thee.

Thou art, verily, the Almighty, the All-Glorious, the Most Powerful.” – Bahá’u’lláh

beauty-thumbnail

Direct YouTube Link: https://youtu.be/6iV88G4RaEA

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. ayammusic
    Mar 02, 2017 @ 13:00:21

    Dear Luke,

    I just wanted to join the many folks who have shared how wonderful this music is and how beautiful your journey has been. I’ve enjoyed reading about the process and all the lovely people who took part in the making of this work, from your brother and sister-in-law, to Nihall and Dave, to people I don’t know but seem wonderful. It’s so very inspiring. I’ve been working on a project very slowly and I’m always encouraged when I learn of people who have taken their time and allowed their creations to be birthed in their fullness.

    I look forward to hearing the rest of he songs. “Beauty” is both musically stimulating and extremely meditative. Having read the prayer and then heard in set to music, I feel like a new dimension and new meaning was uncovered. How humbling and truly beautiful that as long as we create, we can be used in this way.

    Congratulations, Luke! I wish you all the best.

    Maya

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

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