Sunday, October 14, 2007

2x: 3. It Goes On

This song is the first on the album to feature electric guitar. We were lucky enough to get my favorite guitarist of all time to contribute tracks: please welcome Christian Chénier.

Track 3: It Goes On
Thom's songwriting journal entry for It Goes On

Virtual Ensemble
  • A.V. -- acoustic guitar, lead vocal
  • B.B. -- bass, background vocal
  • D.P. -- drums, background vocal
  • E.G. -- lead electric guitar, background vocal
  • K.B. -- rhythm electric guitar1, background vocal
  • guest -- rhythm electric guitar2, background vocal
Actual Ensemble
  • Thom Barker -- acoustic guitar, lead vocal
  • Ken Barker -- fretted bass (CEADGC), drum programming, background vocals, acoustic guitar note
  • Christian Chénier -- electric guitars

This song has a simple, common verse form (I-VI-III-VII in A-minor) stated simply on the acoustic. Chris came up with a really nice melodic rhythm electric theme which, along with the walking bass, provides movement and interest over top of the acoustic ground.

The guitar solo in this song is one of my favorites. It overlaps the end of the bridge, climbing to the official start of the solo section where it just soars. Lots of classic Chénier double/triple-stops and varied articulations throughout. More opposite motion between the bass and solo at 02:22 (guitar down, bass up) and 02:38 (guitar up, bass bottoming out to low C). There's more subtle rhythmic interplay among the drums, bass and guitar throughout, as well (for example, at 2:19 the snare's eighth+sixteenths figure is echoed quickly in the solo and then bass). Finally, instead of ending the solo at the final reprise of the chorus, Chris just keeps noodling right through the end. Very artsy.

With all the mids in this arrangement, the acoustic has been eq'd out almost to the point of being a percussion instrument. This lets the acoustic speak (great example at 01:03) without it taking up space in the mix.

I always heard an A-minor-ninth instead of A-minor on the last chord, but we didn't think of it when we were recording the acoustic. Over time I decided I couldn't live without the ninth at the end. So long after all the other tracks were recorded, I finally mic'd up my own acoustic and added one note: the open B string.

Rhythmic gimmick:
  • 01:25 (bass + drums + vox)
  • 02:54 (bass + drums)
  • 03:12 (bass + drums)
  • 03:22 (bass + drums)
The delayed chorus accent is similar to We Cherish Our Scars: The chorus is again grouped 2+2+2(+2), with the delayed accent coming on the "and" of two in the second bar of the first three groups. The delay is itself delayed in the fourth group -- you expect it on the "and" of two after the eighth notes on 1, 1-and and 2, but the eighth notes keep chugging over 2-and right through to the one of the next bar. The 2-and accents are given by snare, bass octave and electric guitar.

Next: 2x: 4. Life Is A Circle


  1. I agree with Marty, this song rocks. If the electric guitar parts are decent it's due to the back and forth FTP sessions with Ken. I'd get feedback like "try a chug-a-chug-a-CHANG at 1:28" and "turn off your monitor when you record". Even the solo has his fingerprints (earprints?) on it. I'm not complaining, his comments always end up making the end result better.

    If anyone is interested in the gear, I was playing a ESP Custom 24 though a Line6 POD into a MAudio PC card. Listening to it now I think I may have used a tad too much delay (Ken may have mentioned that actually). Oh well.

    None of it happens of course without Thom's great songwriting.
    Every single one is a treat to listen to and even more fun to play on. Although playing live with Thom can be an adventure. "What's coming up, chorus or verse? We'll see!"

  2. Christian: If the electric guitar parts are decent it's due to the back and forth FTP sessions with Ken.

    That's being too modest (especially for a lead guitarist... they may revoke your membership). I made suggestions like: "do something low, and then go high" or "make it sound like a locomotive" and Chris made it happen.

    Anyway... I thought you played the PRS on these tracks, not an ESP.

    And did it hurt your fingers to type "too much delay"? :-D

  3. Yes, of course. It was the PRS. I was just looking to do some gear-name dropping I guess! Hmmm, maybe it was my Godin LGX-SA (AAA top) with the Roland GR-1? No no, defintely the PRS Custom 24 with bird inlays.