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Talybont

Originally from the album Free Hand (Shulman, Shulman, Minnear) Arranged, performed, and produced by: Ian McGrath
Time: 3:37
Recorded at: Graffio & Dfasjk Studios, Brooklyn, New York
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The Inside Story

- by Ian McGrath

Concept:

Talybont has long been one of my favorite GG pieces. It is catchy and simple, but has a distinctly (and unabashedly) renaissance-y feel that is very winning. It is also a fine example of the wonderful contrapuntal writing that distinguishes GG's music from the rest of the pack. I chose this piece as soon as I heard about the tribute, in mid-1995, shortly after getting online for the first time (nothing but an tadpolesque AOL-er then!). However, I had no real idea how I was going to execute the recording.

By the fall, the original deadline was rolling around and it looked like I was going to bail out of the tribute: alas, another unrealized project. But then I read a posting to the project's list from someone who said they would have joined the project and chosen Talybont themselves, but it had already been taken. In light of this, I would have felt horrible if I had not lived up to my claim of this piece, so a new urgency came to the project for me. Shortly thereafter, I had a rehearsal with a couple of friends with whom I play on occasion, one a cellist, the other a pianist (I play clarinet). I realized that it would not be difficult to score Talybont for this instrumentation. This was all the inspiration I needed - within three weeks I had transcribed the piece and written the arrangement.

Execution:

The form of Talybont is very simple: A B A B A' B A. The 4 contrapuntal lines in the original recording of Talybont's "A" section are played by clavinet, bass guitar, electric guitar, and a recorder-y synth sound (which plays only from the 2nd A section on). This version takes each of these lines and hands them out to a different instrument for each repetition of the "A" section.

1st time through the "A" melody:

clavinet part: piano
bass part: cello
guitar part: clarinet

2nd time:

clavinet part: cello
synth part: clarinet
guitar part: piano right hand
bass part: piano left hand

3rd time:

This is the part of the arrangement that gets me the most excited. In the original, this repetition is performed staccato, each note short and dry (with delay effects added). To produce a similar but distinct effect in an "acoustic" interpretation, the melody is first hocketed note by note between the clarinet, pizzicato cello and piano right hand, in a pointilistic fashion, while the piano's left hand plays bass. Next the pizzicato cello takes the guitar part, while the clarinet and piano bounce the notes of the melody back and forth. After this, the "B" melody returns in bombastic pseudo-romantic style, leading to a Grand Pause before the final statement of the happy main melody.

4th time:

clavinet part: piano right hand
synth part: clarinet
bass part: cello
guitar part: piano left hand

At the end, instead of fading out, the arrangment segues into the middle section of On Reflection. I made this decision because the melody is a little similar (first 3 notes), and because my girlfriend at the time loved this tune.

Recording:

Unfortunately, due to the rigors of the 9-5 work week, children, significant others and various hobbies, getting enough time to practice the piece adequately with my little ensemble became somewhat problematic. A couple of recordings were made, both single-take and by editing several performances together, but these proved unsatisfactory. Eventually deadlines were becoming real and I resorted to making a MIDI version of this arrangement. This MIDIfied recording is a good representation of my idea, but to paraphrase my esteemed colleague (see next track!), Richard Hilton, sacrifices texture for accuracy. Well, we all have to make sacrifices! Hopefully, one day a nice acoustic version of this piece with all the proper instruments will be realized, as originally envisioned. For now, we will have to be satisfied with this version, and it's pretty good!

The main synthetic protagonist is a Roland JV-880, who substitutes a ELP-ish square wave lead sound (with a Kawai K-1's Jazz Harp chiming in) for the clarinet, and a fretless bass sound for the cello. The piece was performed by Master Tracks Pro 4.5.2 software.

Acknowledgments:

Thanks to the members of the Ca Va Ensemble: Andre Hosza (piano), Matt Anderson (cello) and Rob Steckman (djembe) for unreleased efforts, also Peter Flint for post-production studio work, both released and unreleased. Talybont might be dedicated to Amy, if I felt a dedication was necessary.

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