Monday, November 12, 2007

2x: 7. The Quiet In Us

Track 7: The Quiet In Us
Thom's songwriting journal entry for The Quiet In Us

Virtual Ensemble
  • A.V.: acoustic guitar, lead vocal
  • B.B.: bass, background vocal
  • K.B.: piano, background vocal
  • D.P.: shaker, deerskin drum
Actual Ensemble
  • Thom Barker: acoustic guitar, lead vocal
  • Ken Barker: fretted (BEADGC) and fretless basses (EGADGC and BEADGC), piano, cat toy, deerskin drum, background vocals

This is probably the "pleasantest" song on the album, and many of the arrangement choices try to highlight that. In particular, the piano, fretless bass, cat toy shaker and deerskin drum contribute to the nice mood.

As with many of the songs on the album, I wanted fretless on this one, but couldn't get a decent recording of the Alembic. Unlike the others, though, I couldn't live without it here. So the bass track is a mix of fretted and fretless. I played the entire song on both fretted and fretless, EQing the fretless to remove most of its bottom end (which is where I've had the most trouble with the Alembic's recording). I then set a compressor+gate to bring in the fretless with a slow attack only when the high end is strong enough to trigger it. Unless you're listening closely, the result is that the song sounds like the bass is a single fretless track. In reality, the fundamental and low end is almost entirely fretted, with the fretless supplying mid-high frequency on sustained notes.

I've always heard piano in my head on this song. So I finally sat down and just played along with the guitar. What you hear is what came out. I think it fits nicely. I would have liked to play more piano on the album, but most of the songs just didn't seem to want it.

I've also always heard some big-ole drum on the low-G accents. I found an appropriate sample, but had to tune it to G and EQ the heck out of it so its boom didn't dominate the mix. Does it work? Dunno. I think I EQd it out of existence.

The background vocals really needed to blend smoothly to work here. I removed much of their attack (say 20-50ms) so that their entrance is smooth as can be.

The bass progresses from the beginning of the song to the end, as with other tracks on the album. The first verse plays roots, sitting on the G, moving up to C on accents:

The second verse drops down to the third of IV (C):

The third verse combines the two (one C, one E):

Near the end of the third verse, the bass FINALLY walks from the low E up to the G -- something we've been waiting for all song long:
We also have to wait until the final chorus for the bass to finally drop down to the low B. The E-F#-G walk reappears here too.

You have to listen carefully, but the bass plays the five notes preceding the final V7-I cadence as harmonics (C-D-F#-D-A). The harmonics are all natural, but some of them are pretty far up there.

Next: 2x: 8. What Will You Do


  1. That's quite the picture of the fretless. Very artistic. The length some guys will go to for an insurance company.

  2. That's his trophy bass, he sold his first fretless love at a pawn shop. tsk tsk.

  3. @Robert: That's quite the picture of the fretless. Very artistic.

    Also known as "gear porn". All the other boys had posters of Farrah Fawcett. Mine were posters of Moog, Oberheim and Yamaha.

    @Christian: That's his trophy bass, he sold his first fretless love at a pawn shop.

    Let he who is not an unrepentant guitar polygamist cast the first stone.