Here is my piano tracking video for ‘Arrival in a Distant Land’:
Lyrics: It begins shortly after birth, with the slow dawning of a person’s awareness and the development of their memory. Like most people, the main character in this story cannot remember his birth. He instead has a vague sense of where he came from before he was born and has a strong desire to go back to that place, as he is horrified by this world and finds it a terrifying and disturbing place to live.
Music: This song tries to answer the question ‘What if George Crumb were a singer-songwriter instead of a contemporary classical composer?’ It was inspired by his ‘Eine kleine Mitternachtmusik (Ruminations on Monk’s Round Midnight)’ (2) (3), particularly the ‘Incantation’ movement, as well as the first movement of Olivier Messiaen’s ‘Visions De L’Amen’, the ‘Amen du Creation’ (you can hear Messiaen’s Nightingale call in ‘Arrival’). However, both of those works are meticulously composed instrumental pieces, while this is a semi-improvisational vocal song, different in every performance. It obsesses over part of a chord progression which returns in the middle of the album and is completed at the end.
Piano sessions: The piano tracking sessions for Interior City took place in the second week of January 2012. The piano was the only instrument not tracked at Garrett Davis’s West Main Recording, as Garrett does not have a working piano in his studio. We ended up having to relocate and bring all of Garrett’s gear to Salisbury University’s nearby Gull Works Studios to use their Yamaha C7 Grand Piano.
Unfortunately, the camera containing all of the violin, guitar, bass, and saxophone sessions as well as half of the piano sessions and most of the vocal sessions was lost or stolen, so I could not include any footage of the vocal takes in this video – nor will I able to do a complete piano tracking video series for this album.
Recording this song: The studio version of the song as shown in this video is last of 3 continuous takes – if there is any interest, I can upload the first two for comparison purposes. Each take is quite different, as the right-hand piano parts in the solo piano introduction and outro are completely improvised. Each take ended up being slower and longer than the last as I got further into the mindset of the song, with the last take being the slowest and longest. A song that had been only five and a half minutes long in my original demo became nearly seven in the final studio version due to the slower pace. I was unaccustomed to singing the vocal parts this slowly, and it caught me off guard in the studio and proved to be quite difficult.
I apologize that the camera angle obscures some of what I’m playing inside the piano – this was tracked at the end of a long day of piano recording, and I forgot to adjust the camera to account for the extended techniques.
Live Performances: This song has been performed twice so far in solo performances by Gabriel Riccio. The debut live performance was at the 3rd Annual Swarthmore College Student and Alumni Composers Concert in Lang Concert Hall, Swarthmore, PA on November 10, 2012, while the second performance took place at the third concert of the 11th Annual Festival of Contemporary Music at the Community Music Center in San Francisco, CA on August 17, 2013. Both performances can be heard and downloaded below: