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Topic: A ballad from "Metropolis" + interesting back story

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  1. #1

    A ballad from "Metropolis" + interesting back story

    "Metropolis," the pop-rock musical I posted songs from earlier, ("Opening of Act Two" , "The Machines are Beautiful") also had its gentler moments.

    "In My Life - vocal"

    "In My Life - instrumental"

    --is a ballad which wasn't in the original 1989 London production of the musical. As I worked on the new version of the show with composer Joseph Brooks, he wanted this new song to be worked into the story. After some brainstorming, we decided it would be a trio sung shortly after the lead woman, Maria, discovers that the scientist, Warner ("Rotwang" in the original silent film) is her father.

    Warner, Maria, and the lead man, Steven, are in separate locations as they reflect on the meaning brought into their lives b y* the discovery of each other. First, Warner is heard, and his verse is about the reunion with his daughter. Then Maria is heard, and her verse is about discovering that her father is alive. Steven is heard last, singing about Maria, and she joins him in harmony as her thoughts switch to her growing love for Steven. All three are heard together for the final segment.

    An important element to the mood of the song, in context of the musical, is that all three know that Warner is in danger. Shortly after the song, Warner is assassinated, something all three characters knew was probably inevtiable.

    Brooks gave me the chords and melody for the song, and asked me to write the arrangement. Acoustic guitar had already been established in the score as a primary instrument in the softer numbers. What you hear in the recording is a blend of MIDI guitar and a real guitar. I produced the tracks, using my hardware module, the Korg X5DR, as the primary sound source. My MIDI guitar is panned towards the right. Then my guitarist friend Frank Fullerton layered in the real guitar that you can hear in the lead spot towards the left.

    It was my very beginning with Cakewalk software, and this was the first time I'd ever dealt with the Staff View. I didn't know any better than to just let the notes be displayed as I played them, no quantization either in the track or the display. I had worked out exactly what I wanted the guitar to play, but hadn't given Frank very readable notation to work with. It was a mess of tied 16th notes. He didn't complain, just went about the task of recording the guitar's part in short segments of a few measures at a time, then mixed all it with my MIDI tracks so the main element of the guitar duet predominated. It's interesting to hear how the real guitar seems to trick the ear into hearing the second guitar as more natural sounding than it really is.

    You can hear the work Frank and I did together on the basic tracks that the singers later sung to on the second link above.

    At the time, I objected to the title of the song, "In My Life." I reminded Brooks that there's a very well known song b y John Lennon with that title. He wasn't concerned, pointing out that there are also other songs with the same title, that titles can't be copyrighted, and that there was no better title for his song. I couldn't argue with that really. But as an in-joke, I added a brief Harpsichord passage that you can hear starting at 2:20. It was a take off on George Martin's Harpsichord solo during the instrumental break of The Beatles' recording.

    As explained in the first "Metro" threads, these tracks were for a 2002 production of the show I directed. I was still mostly using my old hardware sequencer, and the sound sources were all hardware synth modules. This was long before any soft synths existed, and when I would imagine that GPO wasn't even yet a glimmer in its creator's, Gary Garritan's, eye.

    Here's a snapshot of me working in my hardware based home studio during the time of the "Metropolis" project.



    Randy

    *It remains the strangest glitch ever on this Forum. Raymond first discovered that it's impossible to type the word "b y" without putting a space between the letters. The word won't show up otherwise - !

  2. #2

    Re: A ballad from "Metropolis" + interesting back story

    I had mentioned to you previously that I had seen the original "Metropolis". I did not know that there was a "Metropolis" musical. I think Joseph Brooks wrote a great song and I very much like your arrangement of it. The guitar has a nice sound to it.
    Jay

  3. #3

    Re: A ballad from "Metropolis" + interesting back story

    Apparently (according to a Wiki I saw), there are several musical versions of the classic film, but Brooks' version is the far best known, even though it never appeared on Broadway.

    Through my online "Metro" info, I occasionally hear from people all over the world wanting to secure rights for a production - the show has a cult following. Unfortunately, the rights just aren't available anymore. This particular incarnation, the 2002 production these tracks are from, was never compiled and published - Actually, even the original 1989 version was never officially published. This musical has a very strange history.

    Thanks for your reply, Jay.

    R

  4. #4

    Re: A ballad from "Metropolis" + interesting back story

    My dear Randy, this is again a very beautiful song. Your arrangement fits very well in it. At no point it interferes with the singers, it emphasises the emotion and the lyrics (very well performed!). And as to the instrumental version with the two guitars, it's a masterpiece. The mix sounds so natural and balanced, considering the pre soft-synth era it has been made in. Your delicate touch makes it complete. You've made my day again!

    Thank you for giving us this joy,

    Max

  5. #5

    Re: A ballad from "Metropolis" + interesting back story

    Very heart warming. I felt the passion throughout the musical. I listened to the lyric version and the vocals are very emotional. This is added to my play list.

  6. #6

    Re: A ballad from "Metropolis" + interesting back story

    Quote Originally Posted by Max Hamburg View Post
    My dear Randy, this is again a very beautiful song. Your arrangement fits very well in it. At no point it interferes with the singers, it emphasises the emotion and the lyrics (very well performed!). And as to the instrumental version with the two guitars, it's a masterpiece. The mix sounds so natural and balanced, considering the pre soft-synth era it has been made in. Your delicate touch makes it complete. You've made my day again!

    Thank you for giving us this joy,

    Max
    Max, you're a prince for stopping to let me know you enjoyed this so much. Thank you!

    Randy

  7. #7

    Re: A ballad from "Metropolis" + interesting back story

    Hi Randy,

    This time of year is so hectic for me, so it was so nice to finally have some time to listen to this.

    It is a beautiful song, I really like the lyrics and the blend of voices. I also liked the harpsichord near the end, it was a nice addition. It really is amazing how the addition of a real instrument makes the synth ones more convincing. It must be psycho- acoustics at work. It makes it feel more "alive" somehow.

    Very enjoyable!
    yjoh

    Music... A Joy For Life.

  8. #8

    Re: A ballad from "Metropolis" + interesting back story

    Quote Originally Posted by sururick View Post
    Very heart warming. I felt the passion throughout the musical. I listened to the lyric version and the vocals are very emotional. This is added to my play list.
    Nice! I don't think anyone's ever posted that they've put something of mine on their play list. This is great to hear, Richard - thanks for letting me know!

    It occurs to me that this pop ballad is a bit more like the sorts of things you like to work with, Richard, more than other things I've posted - So I'm especially glad you found this and found it moving.

    Randy

  9. #9

    Re: A ballad from "Metropolis" + interesting back story

    Quote Originally Posted by yjoh View Post
    Hi Randy, This time of year is so hectic for me, so it was so nice to finally have some time to listen to this. It is a beautiful song, I really like the lyrics and the blend of voices. I also liked the harpsichord near the end, it was a nice addition. It really is amazing how the addition of a real instrument makes the synth ones more convincing. It must be psycho- acoustics at work. It makes it feel more "alive" somehow. Very enjoyable!
    You're such a faithful listener, Yjoh - Thanks for this post. It's always good to know when someone enjoys something I've posted, it's cheering - so thank you!

    Combining virtual with physical instruments is still often done, at least in soundtracks and some pop music, and musicians, like the ones that hang out at the Sonar Forum, are still often doing this. Guitar players that want to make tracks with more instruments are probably a big percentage of musicians working that way. Back when I was first started getting into MIDI, this combining of live and virtual was probably the most commonly done thing. Once there's a real instrument in the spotlight, there is an acoustic magic that happens, making the synth/sampler instruments sound more organic. We don't hear this approach very commonly here at the Garritan Forum since so many members are primarily composing music, and aren't necessarily musicians demoing their performance abilities. There are notable exceptions though, like when Snorlax posts Euphonium tracks!

    BY THE WAY - I tried to send you a private message awhile back, Yjoh, but I got the notice that you have that feature turned off - How do you communicate with Forum members--? But what I wanted to tell was in response to your question on my previous "Vampyr" thread. I would have added this info there, but didn't want to boost my old thread again.

    You wanted to know specifically what a particular synth sound was I used in the movie's soundtrack, and all I could do was generically describe it as something made from a combination of a Noise and a Square sound wave. Since that reply, I dug deeper in the rubble pile of what's left of the original "Vampyr" project files, and though I'm still unable to reconstruct all the missing pieces, I was able to partially load the project in Sonar, and I saw the name of the patch you were asking about:

    It's a patch called "The Underworld" from a very interesting free synth I downloaded quite a few years ago. I see that it still seems to be available. Click its name and you'll be taken to the website:

    Majken's Chimera


    Thanks again for your post, Yjoh. I'm hoping more Forum members can take a listen to "In My Life" - I'm pretty sure there are more folks here who would enjoy it.

    Randy

  10. #10
    Senior Member Frank D's Avatar
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    Re: A ballad from "Metropolis" + interesting back story

    Hey Randy,

    Just back from our own 'little' Metropolis ... went to see the tree @ Rockerfeller center!

    I've been listening to a download of your number but now want to say how much I enjoyed this! And, it is predictably good musical theater.

    The song, arrangement, and orchestration take me back to that time in the 80's when Les Miz redefined the American musical theater (a couple of Frenchmen no less!). This song easily could have been from that score; it has all the hallmarks. Nice development of the theme, the short-note phrases leading into the 'money' sustained notes, the fantastic modulations. It all adds up to something that is most definately modern and superbly crafted. Really nice job, Randy (and Mr. Brooks). The synths were perfect for this score; just right.

    Thanks also for the backstory. I really enjoyed reading about the development of this number. Snapshot was icing on the cake! (Could have been a cell from the original Lang film! hahahahah)

    Bravo for sharing these legacy works with us; I love to see/hear how my fellow writers evolved over the years.

    Frank

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