Date of Submission
Academic Programs and Concentrations
Project Advisor 1
Matias Van Order Gonzalez
Senior Project Artist Statement
There are quite a few things in the world of music that I’m not very good at. I never learned to sing, and my ear for melody and harmony is pretty much non existent. I’ve never felt particularly gifted rhythmically either. I became aware of these weaknesses at a relatively young age, and decided that if I wanted to be a part of any good music I’d have to focus on working with others. As time has gone on though I’ve begun to think of the necessity of collaboration in my musical life as a strength and a source of fulfillment, not just a reaction to my lack of certain skills. Collaboration is a huge part of my senior project. I’ve worked with over 20 people to write and record an album of 16 songs. I brought collaboration into nearly every aspect of the process of making the record, and in almost every case it’s paid off.
The writing process for most of the songs started with a library of very bare bones demos (normally just a couple instrumental parts on loop) that I wrote. I then spent a few months inviting all the vocalists I knew over to add vocal melody ideas to the demos, some of the demos ended up with melodies from three or four people on them. During this time I tried the same process with instrumentalists and producers too. At the end of all of this I was left with a large library of recorded instruments, vocals, and sounds, as well as a little pile of each of these things on the songs that ended up being most popular with my peers. I then spent a while organizing and arranging all the musical ideas I’d collected for each song, and working out what a final arrangement should be for each song (I worked collaboration into this phase too by having quite a few conversations with friends about these questions).
After all the organizing I turned to recording and producing the final versions of the songs. In quite a few cases I brought in musicians I knew, this time with specific instructions on what I wanted them to record (while being open to their input). I realized early on that if I tried to extend this loose process to the lyrics as well, I’d probably end up with a complete mess that I don’t have the skills to sort out. I decided to ask my friend and bandmate Zara to write the majority of the lyrics on the record, fitting them to the melodies that all of the vocalists had written. I then asked the vocalists from the original writing group to record final vocals for each song.
I see this collaboration heavy approach to writing and producing pop songs as fitting because one of my favorite things about my personal relationship to music is that it’s helped me connect with others more deeply. This works on several levels, I’ve met most of my current friends through music, but in a deeper way music has opened me up to a side of myself that feels more emotionally connected to the people I know and love, but also to people in general. I was pretty antisocial as a young teenager then I joined a band. I think pop music reflects this particular beauty of music in general really well because it’s so tied up in people’s social and emotional lives already, even if they haven’t studied music.
This record is dedicated to my friends, current, past, and future.
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Van Order Gonzalez, Matias, "Be Ok" (2019). Senior Projects Fall 2019. 29.
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