“What Have You Done?” is a newer song about my love of pop music, and all the yearning, subversion, and angst that goes with it. We all want to find something that will prove that our lives and our choices are meaningful, but at the same time, fanatical devotion to that search, at the expense of using your time here to its fullest, can ruin you. This song is about that paradox.
An important element of pop has always been the borrowing of bits from other forms and traditions, be they blues, rock, or classical music, as George Martin did with the Beatles. So, it’s fitting that this arrangement is a bit of an ode to him. I tend to gravitate toward crystalline arrangements, by which I mean arrangements comprised of intricately interlocking parts and contrapuntal melodies, the sum total of which becomes a thrumming monolith of sound, greater than any one of its parts. If you listen carefully, though, you should be able to pick out one of the various counter-melodies. I’ve mentioned my love of minimalism, but I also love the baroque period for that reason. In addition to Martin, I had post-Beatles-y songwriters in mind like Jon Brion, or Elliott Smith, and also composers like György Ligeti.
This also marks my first foray into the world of Logic. I tried to do some nifty tricks with surround sound, to make the song feel more 3 dimensional. You should hear the “cello” guitar line, the “violin 2,” and “violin 1” lines coming from the distant left, right, and center respectively, as well as the oboe and bassoon lines. I’m not sure it worked. None of us castaways crashed on this island with state of the art surround-sound speakers so I don’t think it translated in the conversion process. Oh well, no matter. All the more reason to come to one of our shows!
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