Sunday, March 22, 2009

Blog is the color of my true love's hair

So we've been working the past few months on a handful of 'covers' (I use the term loosely) of songs from different composers. A few years back while I was still at School, my composition teacher (Jennifer Fitzgerald) would give me lists of pieces to listen to that pertained more or less to whatever it was I was working on. I was looking to write a few songs (based on Emperor Norton who later became the subject of 'On the Death of an Emperor') and she burned me a cd of folk songs arranged by Luciano Berio. It had some French songs, some Italian songs, some Balkan songs and two American folk songs. The one song 'Black is the Color' was so gripping, I couldn't stop listening to it. The arrangement was for female voice, viola, and harp. The viola part was mesmerizing and the song itself was gorgeous. I later got a hold of a Joan Baez version of it but I missed that viola part too much. Fast forward about 2 years and Kimberly and I were about to do a show at Lilly's in Chicago. Before we had decided to team up for good, I had told her I had a handful of solo cello arrangements that maybe we could do together. I found my wrinkled copy of Berio's song and rewrote the part verbatim in Bass cleff. Anyhow, long story short, I handed her this peice of paper that was almost entirely black with notes and slurs and weird triplet figures and a week later heard her play it (it sounded so dark and brooding on her cello) and I knew we needed to play together. I was going to write a post discussing the strangeness in 'covering' classical music and how its okay even if its a bit irrevarent, but I guess I had forgotten how this song kind of brought us together. Here's a clip of the original version, and no that is not me singing, though I tried real hard to emulate it. The melody and the chords of the traditional song vary depending on who plays it, and the Berio version didn't really offer much direction. The chords I play on our version are just implied by the vocal melody. Also in the Berio version, the viola part is played independantly of the voice so the rhythms don't match up at all. We kind of slowed it down during the vocal parts and made it more in time with the guitar.


06 Black is the Color.mp3

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