In high school, I studied a bit of music theory. In college, I studied some sound recording. And I also took a class about the physics of musical sound.
With Summers I was able to merge all three studies into one weird track.
I know it sounds kinda stupid to say that I required music theory, sound recording, and the physics of musical sound to create Summers. It's not like this song is the incredible result of all three. Still, I never could've created it without them.
Most of that knowledge is lost to me now, but I'll do my best to retrace my steps. In music theory, I learned about notes and their relationships to each other. In sound recording, I learned ProTools and digital editing. And by studying the physics of musical sound, I came to understand hertz, semitones, and more -- basically, the properties of sound waves as they apply to music.
In early 2005, my friend sent me an audio file of himself playing the electric guitar. Just guitar. That's it. I dragged the recording into ProTools to see if I could put some digital drums behind it, but that didn't work.
However, I'd recently begun sampling music with electric guitars and I was beginning to understand how to slice up guitar into individual chords (which is faaaaar different from sampling plain drums, for example). I cut my teeth chopping up guitar-heavy samples for beats like Got Laid, Proton Cannon, and Rawk.
Using that new experience, I decided to see if I could slice up my friend's guitar riff and turn it into a beat. I isolated one especially sweet sounding chord and I started digitally shifting the pitch of the chord in ProTools using my knowledge of semitones. Soon, I'd created a tiny guitar orchestra from a single chord.
INTERMISSION! Summers on SoundCloud:
Honestly, I think I'm exaggerating the virtuosity of what I did to craft Summers. There are hordes of digital musicians who perform similar feats on a daily basis. But regardless, I'm proud of the sound I captured here.
I tend to view Summers as the least popular track on Brilliant Shower. I just don't think the sound clicks with most people, or at least not enough for them to say anything about it. Maybe it's the drums, which are pretty repetitive... or maybe the pitch-shifted guitar is grating to some people... I dunno!!!
NEXT: Running an acoustic guitar through a vocoder yields some funky results.