A few weeks ago I received an email via the SoundClick site: someone wanted to 'be my friend'. I contacted this person and discovered that she lives in a suburb of Tel Aviv! The whole world uses the internet and I get contacted by someone who lives maybe 30 kilometres from me! Anyway, we started corresponding and one evening I idly suggested that we collaborate on something.
After she told me that she doesn't write, I suggested that I create a music track for her and that she sing it. After a bit more to-ing and fro-ing, we agreed to do a version of 'Halicha LeKesariya' ('Walking To Caesariyya') which is colloquially known as 'Eli, Eli' ('My God'). This song was written by Hanna Senesh, a young immigrant to Palestine (as it was then) who volunteered to parachute into Nazi occupied Europe in 1942 and was never heard from again.
I wasn't too sure how to approach this song, as it's very much a classic Israeli song; due to the sombre meaning which has been attached to it, I felt that a very simple arrangement was in order. My original intention was to have a very dark and engulfing pad against which would be set the crystal vocals of my collaborator. We did indeed make such a version, but I got tired of the sound and decided to remix the music, changing the instruments. I then sent the music file via a file sharing website (essential for collaborations) and was sent a version back complete with vocal.
I didn't like the sound of this version, and a quick look with a wave editor showed that there was a large dynamic range: the vocals were creating very loud peaks and the music was very quiet. After a few more emails back and forth, I requested that I be sent the vocal file so that I could make my own mix. I had to apply very heavy compression to the vocal and some eq, but this enabled me to make the music much louder and better balanced.
Both of these versions can be found at my collaborator's website.
After having spent a few hours on the remix, I decided to take the dog for a walk. On the way, I was listening to some of my instrumental pieces, and I realised that the song would sound better if I ditched the current arrangement and swapped it for one of my patent arpeggio based tracks. So when I came back from the walk, I started yet another arrangement. I kept about 50% of the original and then added two electric pianos playing arpeggios, one on each channel. The second piano is playing the same notes as the first, only delayed by one beat, thus producing an interesting effect. Another couple of hours working on this, getting everything just right, and now a third version of the tune was finished. I think that this one is the best; it's more open and sounds much better.
One part - a high pitched violin or voice, it's difficult to tell - is playing notes which are generally a fourth or a fifth apart. Thus the part starts with an A, jumps up to D, then up a fifth to a higher A and then down to E. I wasn't really thinking about it at the time, but that second A is played over a Bb chord, and thus is a major seventh; it sounds very cool. The chord sequence which I used is one slightly more adventurous than most people might use to accompany the song, and includes a very interesting sequence - F Bb Em A. The transition from Bb to Em is thrilling.
For the time being, I'm putting this third version up on my SoundClick site.
In the mean time, I've been sent another song to arrange. I've listened to this only once, and it was absolutely dreadful, featuring a guitar which sounds totally out of time. It's going to be interested creating a track for this, as first I have to learn the song and that's going to be hard. I'll just try and write down how many bars there are of each chord and start from there.