Saturday, October 6, 2007

2x: The Album

All the songs on Twice the Usual (2x) were written for voice and acoustic guitar by Thom. But he left me free to arrange them however I wanted. I didn't want to deviate too far from the singer/songwriter thing, so I tried to arrange them for a small ensemble playing together. The "musicians" would trade tasks, pick up loose instruments, but the arrangements would not go beyond the available musicians in the ensemble.

This virtual ensemble consisted of five musicians:
  • A.V. -- acoustic guitar, lead vocals
  • B.B. -- electric basses
  • K.B. -- keyboards
  • D.P. -- drums and percussion
  • E.G. -- electric guitars
As many of the five could sing background vocals as needed. Most of the cases that seem to be violations of the ensemble can be accounted for by K.B. playing acoustic on songs without keyboards, E.G. playing bass, etc. The two exceptions are the song It Goes On (with three electric guitar parts) and Don't Try (where I completely abandoned trying to stick to the ensemble).

Next: 2x: The Recording


  1. Lucy here ... I'm afraid I don't understand about a "virtual ensemble". I am definitely in unfamiliar territory. I'm hoping that I'll get to listen to the songs on Twice the Usual and learn a little more that way.

  2. I think I did a pretty poor job describing the point of the "virtual ensemble" idea.

    Thomas wrote all these songs for voice and guitar. And there's a real personal intimacy in them when he plays them that way. I wanted to fill out the recordings with some additional, interesting parts, but not obscure Thomas singing and playing his heart out about these personal stories.

    There's a real temptation when using all this technology to keep adding more parts: "You know what would sound really good here? A 16th century sackbut trio and a troupe of Tuvan throat singers. Let's add them!"

    To keep a check on these impulses I decided to imagine a small group of musicians (5) sitting around a living room with certain instruments available: guitars, piano, organ, percussion, bass. Each musician could pick up any instrument for a song, but then that musician and instrument would be spoken for. Once all five musicians had an instrument, I couldn't add any more parts.

    My hope was that arranging for this imaginary group of musicians (the "virtual ensemble") would help keep the recordings intimate, and allow Thom's personal performance to be heard.

  3. Oh, wow! Thanks for the explanation, Kenneth. You can bet that when I get to listen to Thom's songs, I will also be listening for those 5 "musicians" you've added with so much respect for Thom's stories and sound.