A Phone App & An Airplane Ride

In this video, I tell the story behind the song, Glacial Speed, the 2nd track from M.E. VI (a requiem).

Full Video Transcript

Hi, I’m Rob Teplansky of Strong T, and this is the story of Glacial Speed, which is the 2nd track on the album, M.E. VI (a requiem).

I started to compose Glacial Speed on an airplane trip from Montana back to Boston after a visit to Glacier National Park back in 2015. I had recently finished recording Life’s a Gas in the Greenhouse, and I really didn’t have any other material to record at that point. So I was determined to start playing around with some new ideas.

Now, I don’t have a specific process for writing songs. Some songs start with the lyrics, some songs start with musical ideas. In the case of  M.E. VI (a requiem), most of the songs started with the lyrics. But in the case of Glacial Speed, that’s not what happened.

Now, as a musician, I have a mortal fear of creating something that sounds like something that someone else has done before me. I don’t know if this is healthy or not, because if you look at rock and roll, actually a lot of rock and roll is quite derivitive.  People put their own spin on chord progressions and musical themes that have been around forever. But personally, I’m compelled to stay away from that approach – I don’t know why. In any event, that’s why so many of the songs have unusual time signatures, or are in keys that aren’t used particularly often.

So, as I was playing with ideas on the plane, I set down a couple of basic rules. Number one, I was going to use a bass line that had a chromatic descent. In other words, each note was a half step down from the previous. The second rule was it’s going to be in 9/4 time. And when you put both of those elements together,  here’s how it turned out, in the case of Glacial Speed. (Plays sample.)

And so I had this framework with a descending, chromatic line, in C, and kind of an odd time signature. And this little kernel ended up being the core of the song. Now, here’s exactly what I put together on that plane ride back from Montana on that day. (Plays sample.)

So that’s how Glacial Speed began with a phone app and an airplane ride. In part 2, I’ll talk about the recording of the first full version of Glacial Speed, and how it really turned into an epic fail. Watch for it. And don’t forget to subscribe to my channel so you don’t miss another video.

I hope this video adds to your experience with the album. You can get M.E. VI (a requiem) as a digital download on Bandcamp at strong-t.bandcamp.com and it’s available for streaming everywhere. So no matter how you enjoy your music, please go out, find M.E. VI (a requiem), and take a listen.

Thanks for your attention. Thanks for listening. And thanks for your support. And until next time, peace.