"The Pirate King"
image from the 1938 MGM movie "Tom Sawyer"
(click for MP3)
This public domain song that I worked into the show came to me as a fun brainstorm during the period I was writing the show. Tom's dream of becoming a pirate is referred to several times in the book, and a favorite passtime is to have mock sword battles with his buddies. So it popped in my head, "The Pirate King," or, by its proper title "Oh better far to live and die" from "The Pirates of Penzance"--! That'd be perfect. So, I went about writing some new lyrics and adapting the number for the show. What emerged was a countrified, twangy version of Sir Arthur's originally much more dignified music.
Tom, Huck and Josh have rafted to Jackson's Island, and they're in 7th heaven, finally free from meddling grownups, and from the dangerous Injun Joe in particular. When they start talking about Pirate lore, Tom announces he's going to become a Pirate King! This song and choreographed dual emerges.
Here are the Garritan instruments used. I don't think we've had examples of some of these before in The Listening Room -like the Washtub Bass and the Bottle Blow.
Some notes about putting this project together are below the list of instruments:
Harmonica-JABB (with Sonitus Wah Wah automated)
NOTES: The Washtub Bass in WORLD is fun, very raw, hardly what one would call pretty or even in tune. It sounds like --well, like the real thing! To make it more musically useful, I doubled it with a Sonar bass, so the Washtub is adding a nice thump while the layered bass keeps the tone center more clear.
By this point in the show, I've often used the Garritan Accordion, Banjo, Jaw Harp, Dulcimer and Harmonica. As with all the Sawyer songs which include Harmonica, I use a Sonitus Wah Wah plug-in on the instrument's audio track to emulate the playing style of Harmonica players. It's a plug-in primarily intended for guitar, but it can do a nice wah on any sound source. With the auto wah turned off, I automate the control, playing the wah on another pass over the track. This was a topic recently on another LR thread (link below) where I posted a Sonar screen shot and an isolated Harmonica track from one of Sawyer's songs:
Jay's "In a Timely Manner" - post #5
Whistling is prominent in this track. I used two instances each of two different sound sources. One of them, "The Shepherd" is still available online, 6th instrument down on the page linked to below. It's a free VST instrument featuring a pretty nice whistle. "Super Spook Keys" is also on that page, a virtual Theremin I've used before:
Besides 2 instances of The Shepherd, I also layered in 2 instances of an SFZ instrument I made from my old Casio CZ synth's whistling patch which still sounds very good.
One more part of this production was to add Spoons as part of the rhythm track. Musical Spoons are of course used in several genres of folk and country music. I isolated 7 single spoon clacks from a recording I found online, then loaded them into the Sonar Cyclone, a "groove sampler" for triggering bits of audio and loops via MIDI. In essence, Cyclone did what could have been done in ARIA if I would have made the Spoons into an SFZ instrument. It was great fun playing the resulting Musical Spoons instrument in real time.
Here's a few seconds of the Spoons track isolated where you can hear they sound a bit like Castanets:
Adding drums, and doubling the strings rounded out the project.