I wrote last time about working on a folktronik version of "Lark in the morning". I worked on the tune the other day and completed it to my satisfaction. Of the first half (in 9/8), I kept about 80% of what I had originally done, only renewing the 'solos', verses 4 and 5. This latter verse sports a spectacular blue note, C over an F#m chord (ie a diminished fifth); it would sound even better if I did a little note bending, but that's not something with which I've had much experience. I also played around with the final chord in each verse: originally this would have been A major, but due to my warped sense of harmony, such an obvious resolution could not stand, so sometimes the tune ends on FMaj7 and sometimes on D7, leading to G7 (and as the note in the tune is A, this becomes a G9 chord).
The 4/4 section, however, had an almost complete rewrite. From one of my computer science books (probably "The Mythical Man-Month" by Frederick Brooks), I read the sage advice "write one's first system in order to throw it away". This doesn't happen much to me when I write programs, but it's certainly true about music. I kept only the tune with its new rhythmic basis and added a completely new accompaniment. After two verses of the tune, I thought it time for some variation, and as the chords were now approaching a semi-doo wop form, I looked for a suitable tune. I settled on a quote from 'Blue Moon', which sort of fits - it turns out that the changes in BM are twice as fast as they are in LITM. Once more around the tune, and then I found a new wrinkle for the coda - playing the final lick a few times, first ending on D7, then on F7 and finally on A7 - with a heavenly synth playing the opening phrase of the tune. The inspiration for this probably came from 'Adiemus' - the final notes of the final track are the opening theme from the opening track.
At the back of my mind, I had the idea to arrange Fairport's seminal "A sailor's life": a somewhat different kettle of fish to LITM or any of the skip jig material. I remembered that I had in fact sequenced this several years ago for a disc of Fairport covers. I dragged this out of the archive and listened; the music (both in its concepts and conceits) is fine, but the vocals are somewhat lacking. The only part of ASL which caught my attention was ironically the coda; I took this and played the tune over it. It sort of fitted, but wasn't very good. As Frederick Brooks says, write the first version in order to throw it away, so I wasn't too bothered.
At the same time ... I had downloaded a MIDI arrangement of a song by Canadian group Rush; I've never heard any of their material but I remember reading somewhere quoting the drummer to the effect that "7/8 is our favourite meter". I often download MIDI files just to see how someone implemented such and such a musical effect, in the same way that I look at computer source files. This tune had an interesting section of 7/8 and 5/8 bars leading into a 4/4 section with an odd chord (who knows, this might have been inspired in turn by King Crimson's "Red"). I borrowed this part, but it didn't work as an intro to ASL, although the odd chord at the beginning of the 4/4 part sounded promising.
Once I transposed it into approximately the correct key (I don't remember the exact notes, but it's not a classic triad, more like D6/7/9/no 3rd, so it could work in many keys) and slotted the tune in over it, the chord worked very well. Of course, I had to modify it to accompany the miniscule chord changes in the tune (D/C/D/C/D/G/D/C), but now it sounded even better. The beginning reminds me of "Walking on the moon" by The Police: a sort of out of time, crashing multichord.
Sequencing the tune became fairly straightforward, although a few of my ideas became discarded when the MIDI was imported into Reason. Here a certain amount of serendipity played its part and I was able to get a very 'hip' sounding file. The fact that the tune is in 4/4 helped no end as I could finally use a Dr Rex drum loop, which always adds to the seeming sophistication of the arrangement.
I'll probably upload the two new tunes in SoundClick in a few days, when it becomes apparent that the plays for the current tunes are decreasing.