Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The Tiger

When I first came up with the idea for a children's album of world music songs for our school, I spoke about it with my friend Sarita who, apart from being an amazing human being, is a gifted actress and storyteller. I asked her if she would contribute a piece to the album and a couple of weeks later we sat down in the playground with a tape recorder and she told me the story of her trip to the forests of Rajasthan, India, to save the tiger. It's a fascinating story and I know you'll enjoy hearing it.
We decided to develop it into a music piece and I came up with some cool tabla and percussion tracks and a melodic chorus. But when we recorded Sarita telling the story in the studio, it no longer felt like it needed a sung vocal.
At the time I was looking for an Indian fiddle, and Ross (Bonadonna, engineer) suggested his friend, the Indian classical violinist Trina Basu. I went to hear Trina that weekend in a concert with her teacher Sri Vittal Ramamurthy and loved hearing her play, and she graciously agreed to be part of our project.
I searched for a lot of sound samples to accompany the story. The water and jungle sounds were not hard to find, but it took a bit more delving to find a sample of the kind of bird one would actually find in the forests of Rajasthan, which I eventually found in the oriole that now sings in the track behind Sarita. I also located a peacock and then a really annoying New York City traffic snarl that we used for Sarita's return to Manhattan.
Melvin Gibbs is a world class bass player who happens to be a parent at our school and his track added immensely, in some way taking the character of the tiger and making the piece complete.

Monday, December 7, 2009

"No Need To Stress"

The past few weeks have meant intense work in the studio for me, but especially for R0ss as we've had a steady stream of musicians and child and parent vocalists laying down tracks. The album has taken shape quickly now and I'm really pleased with how it's sounding and how strong the songs and the performances are.
Dhuha and Shams Al Fatlawi came out to Brooklyn with their mother Suhair to lay down lead vocals for the song their father Muwafik gave us from their home town of Baghdad.
Edwin Merlin came down from his home in the Bronx one Sunday morning and put down some fine vocal tracks on "Echi Bu Uku Amaka" and "La Tarara". Though he graduated from EVCS in June Edwin was an integral member of CD Club throughout the spring.
A couple of people who didn't make it into the studio are Steve Schiffman and his daughter Chloe who sent us a gorgeous Hebrew song and Kid Lucky and his son Psyence who recorded a hip-hop anthem for the project - and for the school. It's very cool.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Tibet Tibet

On November 15 the children in our school who come from Tibet came to the studio to record a song from their country for our CD. Some of the children were born in South India after their parents had left Tibet and gone there, but two students arrived directly to New York from Tibet this summer and started school in September.
There wasn't much time to prepare so I researched some Tibetan children's songs online. In the process I came across this beautiful footage of children in Tibet: However in the end I found a lovely song recorded by Tenzin Mingyur and his daughters who live in Switzerland: Tenzin sent me the lyrics of the song, but as it happened, when our families arrived two of the women - Kunga and Dechen - were able to write out six verses for those who didn't know the song. We all sat in a circle and recorded the song a few times before breaking down into the duos of Sonam and Tenzin together, and Kunga and Dechen who begin the song. It was a good morning's work which we finished with an order of a few pies of Brooklyn's best pizza.
As we finished up I asked if anyone had thought of another song they wanted to record while they were there. A couple of people motioned to Sonam Wangchen who was easily persuaded to take to the vocal booth on his own and lay down a beautiful Tibetan song in one take. Entitled 'Snow', you'll hear that on the CD too.