Come, Sweet Muse

A few weeks ago, Colin Gordon-Farleigh sent me an email asking if I had anything for a New Zealand singer with whom he had been communicating. Toni Gibson is a “classical crossover” artist similar to Australian Grace Bawden, who sang Colin and my song “If Only I Had Wings.” Toni was looking for something edgy to fill out the rest of her upcoming album. She put it this way:

The ‘edge’ that we are looking for is something more classical mixed with rock style. Like possibly a melody line that is operatic and the music which has a slightly dark feel and has a healthy dose of electric guitars to rock it up, but also still balances well with the classical feel of the melody line.

That one paragraph set the course of the rest of my week. I made a quick mock up of an idea to see if I was headed in the right direction. I knew she liked Evanescence, so I combined heavy guitars with strings and piano. Lots of drama. She loved it.

Next I got to the real work of actually writing the song. Toni’s byline at her website is “Angel of Music,” so I decided to write an ode to the Muse. My first draft went well beyond epic, tipping the scales somewhere around immense and gargantuan. It was almost ten minutes long and included an aria-like bridge with a Latin text by Ovid (supplied by Latin guru Nancy Van Baak). Clearly I needed to do some trimming.

During my jog on Saturday morning I edited mercilessly in my head and wrote down the cuts when I got home. (That’s right, I even take my Muse when I exercise.) Next came a few days of recording. (Mostly long and tedious, but lightened somewhat by the joy of using my new mic and homemade shock mount.) Then a few days of mixing, fretting, remixing, re-recording, more mixing, cutting, and polishing. (Amy says I’ve seemed “distracted.”)

At the end of the day yesterday I had the mix to a point that I wanted feedback from my most honest critics: Simon and Theo. (When I played the long version for them a week earlier they told me it was really long and asked if this was still one song.) When I played this latest mix for them, Theo got really excited, did some air guitar, and told me, “This is great, Dad. I wouldn’t change a thing!” So I knew I was on the right track.

The end result rolls together Evanescence and early Heart, and adds a pinch of Metallica, Rammstein, and Hollywood Philharmonic for good measure. Too epic to fail? You be the judge.

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