“Mirabelle” was inspired by the novella,Â Shopgirl, by Steve Martin. I like to write songs about moments of transition. Be they moments of decision or indecision, I think we experience the sublime in those moments: all the weight and expanse of existence, literally every possible choice, is open to you. That’s terrifying but also liberating. Whether you believe that we’re programmed by our experiences, conditioning and biology to make certain choices or whether you believe that we are existentially free, choosing, agents, (that every step is a choice you alone are making), there’s a vertiginous sense of terror/wonder involved, and I think that makes for good art. Or maybe I should say, that those are the moments I like a song to live in. So, even though this song is written from the point of view of a character in the middle of a breakup, about her loneliness, fear, and ambivalence, it’s really about choice. As is everything.
Musically, it’s all about the lydian mode (built on the 4th of the tonic scale). You might say it’s sort of a love letter to the lydian mode but I do tend to use those sounds a lot. What can I say? I like the tension. If music is all about tension and release, then I like to draw out the tension, make it pretty or agitating in a way that gets under your skin, and then resolve it hopefully in an interesting way.
Also, since a lot of these songs were originally written on piano (which is how I usually start), I wanted the piano to play a significant role in this. It’s playing a combination of the bass, cello and violin parts, including the counterpoint that gets passed from the cello to the violin.
Lastly, a word on recording. I’m learning as I go. That’s one of the points of this series. So, I’m experimenting with compression right now which has its pluses and minuses. Pluses: it can get more richness out of a recorded instrument. Minuses: well, I like the way this guy says it.Â Thoughts? My thinking is that it’s like nearly everything. Neither good nor bad, just what you do with it.
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