Sonic Sculpture of the Rising Sun

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Sonic Sculpture of the Rising Sun

This is another sunrise piece, from February 25, 2011. It is about a sunrise I observed from the beach in front of Kapa’a. Here I tried to reproduce the dramatic buildup of light by a simple structural device. First drums; then drums and basses; then drums, basses and an electric guitar duet; then drums, basses and three electric guitars, which become four electric guitars in a fireworks finish! … with the drums receding into the distance to end it. 

OK, it’s primitive. But I think it works. Sunrise is a primal thing. It has big drums and booming basses in it. I just gave them their rightful place.

First, I composed a “drum song” on the computer, just like I might compose any piece of music. It was a just a minute long. Then I created a bass trio on the computer that fitted over a double drum loop. I used a double bass, bass trombone and electric bass guitar. This stretched the basic loop – drums and basses – out to about two minutes and ten seconds in length. Then I looped them both, so you hear just the drum loop first, then starting at 1:00 the drums and basses loop a number of times together. 

Then I began laying in the live guitars. I played one guitar track from the beginning of the third loop (3:10) to the end. Then I laid a second guitar track over that, so there was a running duet.

Then I waited until the duet had gone through one full drum-bass loop, and at 5:20 I started another guitar line. When that was recorded, I played the trio back again, let it run through a loop, and started a fourth guitar line at 7:20. I put them all in pretty gnarly guitar simulators on the computer, and – well, check it out for yourself. I think “sonic sculpture” is the right term for it.

Do you think it's too long? I can’t decide. I was a big Dead fan back in the day – the ultimate long-jamming band – and in 2011 and 2012 I was into making “rock epics,” so for both reasons I let things stretch out sometimes. I don’t think it’s just that I am acclimated to long jams – classical has longer pieces, so why can’t rock and roll? I think it’s kind of fascinating how the previous material is transformed by having new voices added to it. It doesn’t just loop around, it spirals upwards.

The song builds slowly, like a sunrise. It is a “sonic sculpture of the rising sun.”