Audio Christmas Card ’07 — Hark This

Well, I told you I’d post it, and here I am a whole week early. In between all the gift giving and receiving and hustle and bustle, we threw this little ditty together to complete our three song homemade gift for family and friends (ya’ll :)

Perhaps you’ve heard about the so-called “War on Christmas.” I, myself, think it’s all a bunch of Christian baiting hype, and I have only one pet peeve, and it’s been going for years and years and years. It’s the fact that when people talk about Christmas Carols, they mean.. Rudolph. Frosty. Sleigh Ride.

Bah Humbug.

What follows, my friends, is a Christmas Carol. This is where theology and poetry intersect with timeless results. It was my hope to draw attention to the staggeringly beautiful lyric while at the same time catapulting the arrangement into another time zone. I’m hoping to clobber you with joy. If you’re hoping for sublime and articulate, I suggest you look elsewhere. :)

Merry Post-Christmas, friends.

hark_thedailies.mp3

Authors note: After many unsuccessful attempts to embed the cool audio thingie in the post without help of the webmaster (who apparantly thinks that it’s alright not to answer his cell phone on Christmas day – BTW, Mike… yeah… that 2nd message, the one where I said I had it figured out… premature) I just did a workaround.

When you read this, Mike… feel free to fix it, delete this, and mock me.

(ed: fixed, snarky comments left intact for posterity)

Oh, and then tell me our track is great.

37 thoughts on “Audio Christmas Card ’07 — Hark This

  1. Cerise

    Wow. ‘Clobbered with joy’ is just about right. You guys never cease to amaze. And deliver. Beautifully done, as always. I’m running out of superlatives. It’s like you mated “Barbie Girl” with Elefante vocals (before they cut their hair) and Erasure’s newest album. That’s a big compliment, in case you’re not an Aqua/Elefante/Erasure fan. I’m 2 for 3, personally.

  2. Stick

    Agreed.

    I missed doing something like that this year. Maybe we should do it every year. Release last year’s (and whatever else we want to throw on) for next Christmas, and then produce the year after’s record in Nov/Dec for the next installment of the definitive Addison Road 15 Hymns of Christmas, Now Including a Sacrilegious Santa Song or Two, Volume II.

    I bet we could all retire on the proceeds. Or we could buy Christmas Goats. Well, maybe we could buy the front left hoof of a Christmas Goat.

  3. Christy Semsen

    The only word I can think of to describe what I just beheld…(no jokes about my limited vocabulary)…

    awesomeness.

    After the first minute or so, I just stopped what I was doing so I could listen INTENTLY to actually try and figure out what was going on…I’m not sure whether it was extremely complicated, or extremely simple (but mystifyingly cool sounding). I’m leaning towards the former, but not sure. It was a feast for the ears!! More please!

  4. corey

    This is the soundtrack to the commercial where the 4th Wiseman brings baby Jesus a Volkswagen Beetle. And an iPhone. And some X.

  5. Chad

    Hey all… thanks for the kind words.

    Daniel, to answer your query, harmonically-speaking, the arrangement is dead simple. I kinda knew from the beginning that I was going to just go… apes**t on the programming and editing, so I thought I’d leave some space.

    I had about 2 consecutive nights spent just automating and editing every little weird transition and stutter. It was fun. It actually taught me that I should commit to audio sooner in the process (as opposed to MIDI) as I tend to leave samples and soft-synths unbounced to audio until well after everything’s been tracked. Hard on the processor(s) that way, unless you’re Matty or Jeremy and you have one of them fandangled new 8-core mac pros. Bastards.

    For the record, this track is loop free. Everything was inserted by yours truly. I feel like it’s a way to make a fully electronic, uber-quantized track feel more alive.

    Oh, and I also think Hot Snotty’s for everyone bit qualifies as a tagline.

  6. Chad

    Dan -

    The more I think about it, the more I think that electronic musicians tend to be untrained in music theory, and they craft their coolness using textures and experimentation. The more cracks I take at it, the more I realize that employing my theory training actually makes it sound somehow… not right.

    Phil? Thoughts?

  7. harmonicminer

    This is really cool, Chad. Great fun!

    But I always have thoughts about the connection between harmony and orchestration, structure vs. tone painting, etc.

    I note that for centuries young composers have been seduced by the coolness of big, lush orchestral texture, and old composers go back to writing parts for chamber groups, where the notes matter more than the “sounds”.

    maybe it sounds “not right” when you juice it up harmonically/structurally because you didn’t squeeze the right fruit.

    or maybe you have a “commercial target” held unconsciously in mind, and can’t avoid listening to it through “their” lense, instead of another one more tolerant of harmonic adventure

    you can tell a really cool story by limiting everyone in the script to one syllable words, spoken with lots of emotion and inflection, with all kinds of special effects, costumes, histrionics, action, lights and dazzle

    but i bet you can’t do it twice, and tell a different story.

    Bruckner though he could, and tried…. and we listen to lots more Bach and Beethoven than Bruckner.

    I do hear some interesting effects where you did backup vox that weren’t quite in line with the harmony. You didn’t “dumb down” the original harmony particularly.

    You can do an awful lot of different things without crossing the line into “jazz”, whatever that is.

    Have you and Mike ever collaborated over something like this? Or is it just one of you using the other to achieve a known goal all the time?

    Now leave me alone… I’m gonna go listen to it again…. with my kids, this time.

  8. michael lee

    Phil, I think the phrase you’re looking for is “ear candy”. I, myself, am a candy junky.

    Chad and I have collaborated several times, with some juicy results. In fact, this post just reminded me of something we wrote early on that would be perfect for small groups … hmmm, I wonder where that demo is.

  9. Sharolyn's Husband

    [quote comment="140485"]

    you can tell a really cool story by limiting everyone in the script to one syllable words, spoken with lots of emotion and inflection, with all kinds of special effects, costumes, histrionics, action, lights and dazzle

    but i bet you can’t do it twice, and tell a different story.

    Bruckner though he could, and tried…. and we listen to lots more Bach and Beethoven than Bruckner.

    [/quote]

    Perhaps it speaks to the simpleton that I am (or maybe the fact that I am a brass player) but I listen to way more Bruckner than Bach or Beethoven. Bruckner is my ear candy.

  10. Sharolyn's Husband

    Oh yeah, because this is not a how do you feel about Bruckner thread, Chad, nice song.

  11. Chad at an Apple Store

    Jason,

    The beauty of this blog is just that…. an electronica version of Hark, The Herald Angels Sing can end up being a conversation about Bruckner.

    Go forth and comment away.

  12. harmonicminer

    [/quote]

    Perhaps it speaks to the simpleton that I am (or maybe the fact that I am a brass player) but I listen to way more Bruckner than Bach or Beethoven. Bruckner is my ear candy.[/quote]

    Have you ever noticed that Shackleton and Simpleton sorta rhyme?

    Oy

    My problem with ear candy is that I can only eat so much sweet stuff before it all tastes the same. On the other hand, actual foods have different tastes. You can’t confuse broccoli with steak… but you sure can confuse mars bars with snickers.

    OK, now a test. Hum the theme of Bruckner’s Te Deum (the one with four notes… even the ALIENS got five notes in Close Encounters of the Third Kind…). Now hum it again. Now go up a whole step and hum it again. Now hum it again in the new key.

    That’s Bruckner’s idea of form, too. Pretty much everyone agrees that his symphonies are all pretty much the same symphony…. if you can call them that.

    Hark the Herald Angels Sing, even without the ear candy, is much better music than Bruckner.

    With the ear candy element, too, it really rocks.

    The thing is, bass trombonists’ brains are oxygen starved due to the demands of the instrument. Everyone knows it. We make allowances, because we need bass trombonists.

  13. Sharolyn's Husband

    [quote comment="140533"][/quote]

    OK, now a test. Hum the theme of Bruckner’s Te Deum (the one with four notes… even the ALIENS got five notes in Close Encounters of the Third Kind…). Now hum it again. Now go up a whole step and hum it again. Now hum it again in the new key.

    That’s Bruckner’s idea of form, too. Pretty much everyone agrees that his symphonies are all pretty much the same symphony…. if you can call them that.

    The thing is, bass trombonists’ brains are oxygen starved due to the demands of the instrument. Everyone knows it. We make allowances, because we need bass trombonists.[/quote]

    You miss a key element in the Bruckner composition technique. When you repeat the theme up a step, go from fortissimo to fortississimo. This is, in my opinion, where Bruckner’s brilliance shines through. Am I alone in appreciating the subtle differences between really loud and really really loud brass playing?

    Also, my brain has always worked at an oxygen starved level, even before I played bass trombone.

  14. harmonic miner

    Oh, you’re absolutely right about the dynamic subtlety there. I did forget that. Of course, my ears have been ringing since the last time I sang the Te Deum…. it’s affected my memory some.

  15. Sharolyn

    [quote comment="140508"][quote comment="140485"]

    Bruckner though he could, and tried…. and we listen to lots more Bach and Beethoven than Bruckner.

    [/quote]

    Perhaps it speaks to the simpleton that I am (or maybe the fact that I am a brass player) but I listen to way more Bruckner than Bach or Beethoven. Bruckner is my ear candy.[/quote]

    Phil, you might be pleased to know that Jason got a gig call today for Beethoven 5.

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  17. Sharolyn's Husband

    No, Beethoven five is when Beethoven has puppies and Charles Grodin rolls his eyes. Shenanigans ensue.

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  19. sharolyn

    OK, back to the Beethoven v. Bruckner thing, I just got called to do Beethoven 5 again. For the third time since January. I have still never been a part of a performance of a Bruckner symphony. Ever. I am beginning to think that my taste might not be in line with the rest of the world.

  20. Sharolyn's Husband

    Darn. Meant to change who made the above comment. It was I, and not my beautiful bride.

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