Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Overtone Fury

I have decided to write a little blog about the songs on the new "Walking Eagle Album." I will just write about them in the order they occur on the album, and tell a little about the instruments and backstory of each song.

Here is a link to the song, so you can listen while you read:

Overtone Fury

The first song on the album is "Overtone Fury." The lead instrument on this is the Slovakian Overtone Flute, also known as the konkovka.

As you can see, the overtone flute has no finger holes. This confuses people a little bit.

The way it works is that there is an existing phenomenon in physics called "the overtone series." It is best described with stringed instruments, but the same principles apply to wind instruments.

With a stringed instrument, if you pluck an open string, you get a note. If you divide the string in half, you get the octave of that note. If you divide it again, you get the interval of the fifth. The the fourth, and the third, and so on. With a wind instrument, the same overtones occur in the same sequence in relation to how hard you blow into the instrument.

The overtone flute can generate two series of harmonic overtones - one when the end is left open, and another when the end is covered with the hand.

After playing with this instrument for a while, I found that it lent itself to some pretty showy, fast playing, and decided that this would work well with an accompaniment of a rather funky bassline.

I wrote the bassline in a hotel in Omaha about nine months before we recorded it. I wanted something that had a bit of an irregular beat to it, so it is asymmetrical in it's pattern, followed by a symmetrical pattern for the bridge,

I recorded the bassline first, using a synthesizer, and planned to go in and replace it with an electric bass at a later date. The truth of the matter is that I was never able to play the bass guitar as well as it worked on the keyboard, so the synthesizer part remains.

When we play this song live, Dick plays the bass part on the guitar, but for the recording, we tried that, and we liked the lower sound better, so Dick, instead, played a fast rhythm part.

We recorded most of this album in the early spring, when Dugg, the drummer, is exceptionally busy at work, so, he came in one afternoon and played the drum part for all the tracks. He recorded this one using a clay dumbek.

After all the backing tracks were laid-down, I recorded the flute part. It is entirely improvised. I recorded several different takes, and then chose the one I liked the best. I believe it was the first take that we finally went with.

Tune in next time for the story of "The Lotus of Mt. Ararat."

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