The Message is an eclectic combination of all the styles/genres that I have learnt over the years. It was molded together in a specific way to capture a certain listening experience from beginning to end, taking into account an album as a whole. Emotions were targeted as the primary source of inspiration, drawing from love, sorrow, happiness, joy and a myriad of other feelings to invoke and capture life experiences through the music.
The Message was aimed at being an uplifting, energetic, achievement type feeling song. The whole song was composed in about 10 minutes and came in an instant. Its quite a simple composition, however in my opinion sometimes being simple can be a good thing, and to put more emphasis on the emotion side itself. 9th arpeggios create the backing template, while the modes stay simple in structure and transition inside the one key. There is a brief mode shift to Aeolian in the bridge section.
This composition was a hard one for me to complete. I had most of it done however there was a missing piece to get the ‘flow’ right. Flow of a composition for me personally is crucial. A lot of arpeggios are the main focal point, however I wanted to keep it melodic in contrast. Playing around Mixolydian with funk syncopation for the opening motive and I wanted to compliment it with surprises and to keep the listener guessing. This seemed to be a more complex approach to composition than they way I normally did it and it also leans on the rock fusion side in some places in the outro solo.
This tune was aimed at being a groovy foot tapper! Focusing on the bass line as the key to carrying everything. A blues approach was the idea, but to have a Steely Dan movement there with a Satriani type feel for the chorus section. Harmonies were introduced to compliment the line. The solo section had Larry Carlton in mind and to keep it simple in approach. This was like a part 2 of track 2 from the 1st album – Down ‘n’ Dirty. A cool riff for the band to play with!
Is the main ballad of the album. This is a cross between a Gary Moore and Joe Satriani type ballad. The song structure and ideas are very simple, however the main point I was aiming at was the emotion behind it. Aimed at being a story line from start to finish, focusing on the gradual elevation of the story to a climax, and gradually down towards the end. Right at the tip it has harmonies splitting away from each other to give the effect of completion. Long melodic lines were throughout in the solo, with very little parts for faster notes. I wanted each note to mean something.
An RnB feel with a bluesy melody shifts into Lydian to bring a shade of green. The joiner song in the album to get the listener through a lot of guitar playing! This one I feel will be great to perform live, as it has a lot of energy, and room for improvisation at the end solo section. As the title suggests, this song was written around Midnight. The bridge section was aimed at a relief feeling and also switching to the relative major key from the minor key that its based around.
The ‘easy listening’ song of the album!. Inspired by the dance scene on Back to the future, this song could possibly be a slow dance song. Rhythmically it is in 6/8 although I have been told its in 12/8, with a I – VI – IV – V progression as the main lead. It also borrows from the relative harmonic minor, or Phrygian dominant mode for a chord as well just to take the ‘niceness’ out of the equation as I thought that it needed balance. There are strings throughout also to complement the mood of the song.
A Spanish feel song with the idea in mind to perform live. This also uses harmonic scales as does a lot of Spanish guitar music. Incorporating diminished arpeggios over the V7b9 chord is a common thing among these progressions and this is no different. As the bridge however I went for a more warm approach with the chord choices and used major 7s. This section sounded cool playing along with the conga and bongo drums! Also remembering to bring the snap out of the strings! This was actually done on a steel string although I nearly did it on the nylon! I like the transitions in this song and had fun composing the melody lines over them.
As the title says its Just Blues! Very simple blues chord structure, although with a twist at the end! This song is great to just jam over! Influences on this were SRV, Steve Vai, Joe Satriani, and Gary Moore. Again very simple lines, and I went for long bends hanging over changes keeping in mind to outline the chords. The use of an organ was paramount in getting the sound that we were after to really bring out the song as a whole. Staying aware of the importance of phrasing was also what I was watching out for. Trying not to ‘overplay’ was what I was trying to employ, and being carful not to clash with the other instruments.
The progressive/metal type song on the album. This has a low droning syncopated hard-hitting riff throughout. There are a lot of scale/mode changes through the composition, and also uses parallel harmony in places. Long legato runs using diminished, Phrygian dominant, and Lydian flavours make up some of the later sections while natural minor is the dominant key of the song. While being technical in places I tried to keep it close to the composition and not venture out too far so as not to lose the listeners attention.
The only cover song on the album. I had fun arranging this song from Michael Jackson. I have always liked this song since I was young and found it quite easy to arrange because I have known the song for a long time. I listened for the vocal harmonies that were in the original and applied them to the arrangement. The rhythm was changed slightly, but I tried to stay as close to the original as possible. I think that with arrangements in this style, they need to be close to the original but just to put your own feel on it. With the outro section, I chose to take a blues approach to emulate his voice.