"Tethered" & how it was made.

"tethered" is the 19th song in the yearbook series, track 1 of the "april" ep. towards the end of each song's recording process, I spend about a day playing around with new sounds and ideas to put the finishing touches on the song. the sprinkles on the top of the sundae! when I was wrapping up "birthright," I was playing around with additional sounds and haphazardly laid my hands on the keyboard and played a few random notes. i liked how they sounded and immediately grabbed my iPhone to record the mini idea. that idea became "tethered."

if you've heard my music before, you're probably well aware that I have a soft spot for strings. I incorporate strings into as much of my music as possible. I'm a sucker for them. there's a style of playing called "pizzicato," which is where the strings are plucked on the violin (or viola, cello) rather than played with a bow. I always love how this sounds. it has a sort of romantic sound to me, playful, but earnest at the same time. so I try to toss in pizzicato strings throughout songs when it works. for tethered, I thought this would be the perfect sound for the foundation of the entire song.

being a completely novice (translate: terrible) violin player myself, I decided to take on the challenge of recording these pizzicato strings myself. so that's what you're hearing. it took a long while to play it right, but I am happy with the end result.

after the pizzicato foundation was laid, I played around with piano melodies. it came together quick and I really liked the strange rhythms that fit together in this song. after that, i tackled making the choruses "bigger" (a term that is used almost always in the songwriting process ha) - which lead me to my electric guitar. always fun to dust it off and see if I remember how to play the thing. ;) I enjoyed the thicker electric guitar swells in this. was fun to play. my best mate, dan added a bit of bass, keys and some sparkly bits in the end. i love how it all came together. this is a very, very simple song and I'm pleased that it remains so. it's always tempting to complicate songs, so approaching this song with a simple mindset let it breathe and I'm very pleased with he that works for this.

lyrics... this is a pretty direct, simple and personal love song. a couple years ago, my wife and I were indeed married by the ocean - on the shores of Oahu, Hawaii. and each verse, refers to different aspects of my wife's and my personalities. some examples:

"I'll be warmth when you are shivering cold" - my wife is always cold. always. bundled in blankets as often as possible.

"you be patience when I've had enough of this waiting game" - is a direct reference to me being an impatient person. always in a hurry. is what my family tells me I am. it's true.

the idea for these lyrics are centered around one theme: the game, cats cradle. if you are unfamiliar with the game, read about it here.

it's such a beautiful idea, a game of taking turns making a simple strand of string turn into something more. in my head, that sounded a lot like relationships - a series of taking turns and making something together that is better than what we could have created alone. I also loved the idea that, in this game, we make mistakes to we start over. there is no loser, no winner. just a small team, working together to make something beautiful for the sake of making something beautiful. its fairly obvious, but this concept is what inspired the title "tethered." and the first set up of this image in the song is the lyric:

"we tied string around our fingers to remember our ideals."

when i was scavenging the Internet for visuals of the game for inspiration, I stumbled upon these remarkably beautiful pieces of art by brian mallman:

"String Games (Cat's Cradle" by Brian Mallman
"String Games (Cat's Cradle" by Brian Mallman

so as I wrote this song, those images were certainly imprinted onto my mind.

in february, 2012, the abc show, "grey's anatomy" used this song to close out an episode. privileged to say the least!

thank you for reading! love, ryan




we were married by the ocean. we were tethered by the sea. we tied string around our fingers to remember our ideals.

i’ll be brave when you are frightened. you’ll be strong when i am weak in the knees. i’ll be calm when you have had enough of these rushing waves. you’ll be the oxygen i need.

we’ll take turns to untangle the knots, though our hands may be tied, it’s all a part of the plot. cat’s cradle etiquette, we oblige, as we learn to enlace for the rest of our lives.

you’ll be balance when i waver. i’ll be warmth when you are shivering cold. you’ll be patience when i’ve had enough of this waiting game. i’ll be the anchor cast below.

we’ll take turns to untangle the knots, though our hands may be tied, it’s all a part of the plot. cat’s cradle etiquette, we oblige, as we learn to enlace for the rest of our lives.