How An Arrangement Became My Lead Song
Back in 2009, I was the bassist for a trio in the Milan area. The band was about to present, in the form of live concerts, a CD that we published a few months earlier. Several songs featured sketchy electric guitars on their own, with neither structure nor rhythm. I revamped one of those by adding bass, a reference drum track, a few keyboard parts. It became a full-fledged song.
The experiment was a success, so we decided to repeat the same process for some of the new compositions. The first one was a rough piece, featuring a screaming distorted guitar, playing long notes in what appeared to be a rough undefined verse/chorus layout. In my arrangement, I introduced the drums within the chorus, together with a pick-played metallic bass guitar. It now felt like a proper song, with a refined structure and a bass part that was a hook in itself.
Despite the fantastic chemistry with the drummer, I parted ways with the band a few weeks later. However, I was smart enough to keep the source files of that complex arrangement.
After stripping away all the original guitars and melodies, I rewrote the piece with a different groove, similar bass and keyboard parts on an entirely different chord structure. It was a solid backbone for something new and exciting.
I added an old piano sequence from my years as a composer for video games. Originally written just before 9/11 happened, it fit beautifully.
The events around the attacks obsessed me for a long time. Along with most people, I’ve experienced that dreadful day on live television. I wanted to make this new music go along with some of the original live commentaries. I changed the piano progression, added a tom/timpani roll in anticipation for the choruses and wrote a solo. Finally, I sampled the audio from the footage shot around the WTC while the events unfolded.
The song, now titled Nine Eleven, went on to become the first single and lead song for my album, Skinny Kid.
Quick Notes About The Production
Since I wrote the song during different time frames, it went through a diverse set of software and tools.
- I made the backbone of the first arrangement using Logic Pro 7.
- The piano parts, added from my past work as a game sound designer were recorded with a Yamaha Clavinova on Cubase VST 4, in 2001.
- The first incarnation of Nine Eleven was completely written, arranged and pre-mixed on Propellerhead’s Reason 8 and 9.
- The song was rewritten as Skinny Kid and fully produced using Logic Pro X.
- Piano and drums are from XLN’s Addictive Keys and Addictive Drums.
- I use a multi-bus compression template inspired by Michael Brauer’s mix technique, employing plug-ins from Waves and Soundtoys.
Listen To The Demo
Walking Towards Sachsenhausen
I’m in Berlin. After boarding the S-Bahn 1 to Oranienburg, I relive the decades that followed World War II. A few miles away, the concentration camp where my grandfather was held prisoner by the Nazi. It’s not easy to try figuring what his ordeal might have been before he managed to escape in the spring of 1945.
Skinny Kid was the first piece that I turned into a proper song when I refactored my album at the beginning of 2019. I adapted the lyrics I wrote for a different tune—now discarded from the project—and re-arranged the structure for a linear narration.
The first version of Nine Eleven lasted 8 minutes and 30 seconds. Skinny Kid is now a 3-minutes song with a standard structure. It’s also a personal statement about simplicity, and a desire to go to the core of things.
Watch The Music Video
Review By The Indie Buddie
‘Skinny Kid’ is a tender delicate number as Simone expresses emotional and harrowing themes through a bitter, icy piano and tense progressive soundscapes. With a steady beat pounding through weaving guitars and ominous rumble on bass, the track projects images of isolation and loneliness by means of sinister chilling twinkles and tender vocals. The haunting backing vocals and lamenting pines on guitar have a chilling element as Simone portrays this harsh experience with sublime instrumentation and vivid musicianship.
👉🏻 Read the full review by Indie Buddie