Friday, May 13, 2011

Thomas Oliver - 'The Moment'

Check out Wellington based musician Thomas Oliver's latest slide guitar instrumental, 'The Moment'.

Recorded on a Tony Francis Style 3, I asked Thomas about the inspiration for this track and the Major 7th. -TF

"The inspiration for ‘The Moment’ was simply following the melody and harmonic movement I heard in my head one day when I sat down with my Style 2. The Weissenborn has an amazing ability to conduct itself, and sometimes writing music on the instrument for me is just a matter of keeping up with the melodies that seem to build themselves when I play. However, the lap-slide guitar can be a very limited instrument, due mainly to the fact that it’s played with only a flat bar, and this means that part of the art of playing it is achieving the melodies and harmonic movement you hear, within the restrictions of the instrument. This is why I retune the guitar before and after each chorus in ‘The Moment’. The initial tuning is open C# (C#-G#-C#-F-G#-C#), and the top string is very much required in the melody of the verse. But as I wrote the chorus, the melody I heard in my head had the F note in the top (ie the major 7th on the IV chord), but I simply couldn’t achieve this with only a flat bar, as the bar was occupied in holding the rest of the IV chord. This led me to tuning the top string down one semitone at the start of the chorus, and back up again at the end. My challenge was to compose the melody at the start and end of the chorus in such a way that would incorporate this mechanical change without disrupting the flow. I think that, with the Weissenborn, it’s easy to fall into the trap of playing/writing using your hands and the mechanical motions they are accustomed to, but the writing of ‘The Moment’ was very much about creating a strong melody, then finding ways to incorporate the harmony or bass notes behind it, and structuring it like a song to give the melody a strong sense of voice.

The inspiration for the title came one night when I was filming a music video with my band and it was somewhere around 3am as it was a night shoot. We had just finished “lunch” and everyone was talking and mingling as the camera crew began setting up the next shot. I grabbed my Weissenborn and started playing this song, just to myself, really. I wasn’t really paying attention to what was happening around me, so I didn’t realise that, as I played, more and more people began to stop what they were doing and watch me play this song. Some people sat on the ground around me, and others stayed standing, but eventually all 25 people in the crew were silent, and listening to the music. It seemed that, despite all the pressures of the shoot, everyone was lost in the moment, until I finished playing. I was stoked to have brought such a tranquil atmosphere to an otherwise buzzing environment, so I named it ‘The Moment’." - Thomas Oliver

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