32. Study On Imperfect Dissonances (Or just scroll to the bottom for a song with words)


I hope we’re friends.  Would you understand me if I told you I’ve kind of lost my marbles?  Would you forgive me after I lost them and then got them back?  Would you believe me if I told you this doesn’t happen all the time, just on those occasions that I have a solo show at the Knitting Factory falling on February 4th?

EHP @ THE KNITTING FACTORY,  Thursday, February 4; Doors at 8:00; $10, with cellist Brent Arnold and Kelli Rudick.

I’ll be bringing with me only 20 of some new 365 EPs I’ve put together that have 5 songs from The Project.  They’ll probably be buried in the lining of a chair soon enough, so get them while you can still find them!

Today, in light of my show tomorrow night, and the fact that I’ve been completely looney and sensitive today, I thought I might test my own patience, and yours as well.  Rick Gribenas, my teacher and friend I talked about in song #1, made a comment about the final piece I did for his class.  I had the entire class sit in a circle and I surrounded them with tape recorders.  Each tape recorder had the same recording on it, but each played at a different time.  The sounds contained thereon started as pops, scratches, etc., but gradually moved to a Bach Prelude toward the end.  Each sound had it’s own moment and then faded away.  He made an interesting comment to me about each section, “The second I thought I was going to get bored and start tuning it out, it changed and I was brought in again.”  I think about this comment all the time.  Rick had an amazing ear and patience for sound that I don’t think I’ve seen on very many people.

Given this information about patience, I will now tell you a short story about what happened to me today:

I got my cello bow rehaired, and I left to pick it up this morning.  On my way home, I saw a guy sitting in his car with his windows rolled down.  With music blasting, I heard vocals rising from the CD that was playing in his car.  The man started to sing along completely off key.  What a cool sonic experience for me today.  I heard a recording with instruments and a vocal melody line, and this guy is just sitting in his car having a good time and singing a melody that is completely unrelated tonally.  It was such a cool sound that I wanted to recreate it somewhat today.

Another part of this entry is this: I was listening to a friend’s song recently, and I realized that the main harmony in the bass was just a tritone repeated over and over again.  Tritones are so cool (A tritone is an interval that spans three whole tones.)  Want to sing a tritone?  Are you a West Side Story fan?  Remember the song Maria?  The first two notes of the word “Maria” are a tritone.

Okay, so today’s song:

It is eleven different tones cut up and repeated for about 2 and a half minutes.  The first tone is a tritone, then an interval of a minor second (think Jaws Theme) on top of that and so on.  Basically playing with as many dissonances as the memory in garageband would let me.  It crapped out at 11.  The last track I added was a “I’m feeling totally weird today and feel like a total idiot in general,” kind of track- arbitrary information set just underneath the dissonances- a huge weight crushing it.  *Shows are a cause of great happiness and complete anxiety for me both at the same time.  But all will be well.  And then I will have a cookie.

I understand that this might be a little out there.  So, because I love you-  I really do- I am including a live version (newly re-mixed!) of a song I wrote called War.  It’s tonal, loud, and I use the backwards option on my loop pedal.  I’ll be performing this song tomorrow (War, not today’s posting…)

I guess today’s point is the idea that we keep our ears open as much as possible without immediately judging and assigning a quality.  (I’m totally guilty of this…)

As my bow repair guy, Tom Barilla (who is moving to Pennsylvania in March! Saddness!) always says right as I walk out the door: Be well!


Study on Imperfect Dissonances

War – Live at WhySound, August 6, 2009

Start a war
Brain on Fire
And the tide comes in from the north
Break the skin
Burning through
And I feel the fire
Righteous hands
Solid ground
And these bones they’ve thinned
These bones they’ve thinned this skin I’m in
Start a war
Brain on fire
And these bones, they’ve thinned
These bones, they feel the fire.


**I have re-recorded and posted a new version of Gloria (day 3) for you to hear.  The live one has great moments, but the quality wasn’t superb, and I needed a better version.  Happy Listening! -ehp

4 thoughts on “32. Study On Imperfect Dissonances (Or just scroll to the bottom for a song with words)

  1. The Study is totally a Revolution #9-Beatles-era track or the last five minutes of a Radiohead EP track where there’s an orgy of strangely beautiful sounds.

    And watching you perform “War” live is one of the greatest joys a music lover can have in this world.


  2. Your music is so incredibly different. You should love that about it. I do. Every song is very specific with the mood it induces. You get the entire story in the smallest pluck of your cello, or the way you chew on the word “war” as you’re singing it. It really is refreshing. Thank you.

  3. Emily, I love your song War. It’s so expressive and such a gorgeous, emotional voice you have. I love the dissonance practice a lot. That song really makes my head “warble”. I’m a silent follower turned onto your blog by a friend. Thanks for the posts. I’m enjoying reading about your journey! Cheers!


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