Monday, July 7, 2014

Crossover Kings - Pop to Orchestra

Pop to Orchestra - v 1

Tonight's recommendations come in the form of crossover excellence, where excellence is found in the craft and music. The following songs aren't popular but they are beautiful and are from female pop musicians: Bjork and Imogen Heap. I wanted to focus on extra-talented artists and think that these two artists are great examples because of their mastery of their original genres (both adhering to a nebulous form of indie - alt - synth - rock - other) but also their ability to cross over into a vastly more complex genre: orchestrated.

The songs:

Song: Overture

Artist: Bjork

Album: 39 Steps (Soundtrack)

Genre: soundtracks, orchestra

Orchestrated: tympany, brass section (euphoniums, trumpets, French horns, tuba, most likely many trombones as well)

Karaoke Difficulty: What? Haven't you been reading? No words here.

Tempo: slow, about 60bpm

Song: Cumulus

Artist: Imogen Heap

Album: Cumulus (Single)

Orchestrated: reeds, strings, synths

Genre: unknown
Tempo: 90 - 95

~ Overture - Bjork ~

The song is orchestrated with tympany and brass, an excellent mix to create a very soulful sound, one with immense depth, whose resonance unfolds until the final crescendo where a majesty of sounds shines from the orchestra. The layering of so many brass lines to create a piece so gentle and powerful is what draws me to this song, time and time again. It's like listening to a sunrise.

0:00 - So calm, peaceful, clear from intent, like the slow migration of a field of geese, just waking up with the rising pink light, taking to the sky, one by one as the sun rises around 2m 00s. There is so much depth in this the slow beauty of the first two minutes to this song as the piece slowly builds, layer by layer, with overlapping horns and chords.

2:00 - The gentle layering of similar voices begins

2:17 - The bass brass start in and an immensity to the music arrives

2:25 - The sun rises as the crescendo arches and the full awe of the music unfolds

~ Cumulus - Imogen Heap ~

First, though you may not know who Imogen Heap is, you'v'e probably heard her music. She is most known for her song (and how I first came to her music) "Hide and Seek." Please listen to this song; I know I"ll write about it in a later post. Second, you've probably heard Jason Derulo's song "Watcha Say" which samples heavily from Imogen's song, and even Derulo's title comes from Imogen's song. after you get lost in the awesome vocalizings of "Hide and Seek," listen to "Just for Now" (preferably the iTunes version from the album "Live Session (iTunes Exclusive) - EP", though the original version is also great) the intro is fantastic... as it the whole song of course.

The orchestration here starts with reed instruments and some background piano, quickly moving to supporting synth layers. At 39s, the first independent voice begins, like a colored orchid presents against a sea of deep green grass. By 2m in the various tracks are layering together again to set the theme and cadence for the whole piece; while other sections may divert from this theme and cadence, they are all departing from and arriving back at this theme. At 2:30, the solo voice hints at returning and by 2:40 it returns completely to drive the song. At 3:20, a different leading voice starts in the form of a lone violin. From here on out, the lone reed and violin voices gracefully dance through and around each other, like a Chinese love tragedy: stoic, longing, beautiful, demure.

Both of these songs are moments of beauty in the world of music. They are not well known but were merit the measure of popularity they'd be as heralded any song of acclaim and renown.

I hope you enjoy them or appreciate something of these two pieces now.

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