"Wires" & how it was made

it's no secret that i love my apple gadgets. "wires," which is the 12th song in the "yearbook" series, definitely plays into my adoration for technology.

ever since the iphone was released, and the proceeding birth of the "app store," i've been a bit obsessed with mobile music applications. everything from instruments, sequencers, drum machines, to tuners and metronomes. i really don't know what it is, but i have enjoyed small gadgets ever since i can remember. probably started with my first gameboy...

anyway, after diving into practically every music app for the iphone i could find, i stumbled upon a few apps that inspired the music for this song. i decided i want to build a song from the iphone up, so that is what i did.

the first sound you hear is something i wrote on an ultra simple iphone app i love called "melodica." the idea was the keep that instrument/sound as the core, always underneath, supporting, and always changing a little bit throughout the song. even if it's a note or two different, it is always evolving over the course of the song. it was a lot of fun to write a song in that fashion.

throughout the song, you'll hear an almost organ-like sound, playing chords, with an occasional "sparkle" of notes (that's what i guess i call it when something trills in a beautiful and melodic fashion). that is my all time favorite iphone/ipad music app: SoundPrism. i've blogged/tweeted and beyond about my love for this app and the folks behind it (audanka software). full disclosure: since falling in love with SoundPrism, i've been privileged to have gotten to know the team behind it and have since been, in a way, endorsed by them. with that said, i only talk about their instrument so often, because i love it so.

anyway... there's some other iphone instruments sprinkled throughout this song, especially in the micro-electronic drum department. had a lot of fun working on percussion in that way. my pal dan perdue and myself enjoyed programming and layering different percussion ideas from iphone world.

there's a layer of the percussion that i was pretty excited about that did not come from the iphone... it starts at about 1:04.. oddly enough, it sounds very digital, but in fact it was extremely acoustic. it's the sound of me just playing jazz wire brushes onto more jazz wire brushes. (and yes "wire" brushes is quite appropriate for a song titled "wires"...) i was quite pleased with how that sound layered into the "digital" aspect of the song.

i was very happy with the ending of this song. i wanted the song to essentially overload and explode in the final seconds, so dan and i just kept laying things - keyboards, drums, iphone feedback and loops...until it felt like there wasn't any sonic room left in those final seconds for anything else.

the title "wires" has two meanings:

1. because of the digital nature of the song, i thought it felt like a fitting title.

2. just about every lyric in this song refers to a "wire" of sorts... here's a few examples:

"Carefully cut the wire and wait."

"A loose thread that we must pull."

"Time is the string in between
The arrow and the bow."

"We're shifting our weight
In this tightrope ballet."

and lastly...

"We're down to the wire."

i had a lot of fun writing those lyrics within that theme...

(side note, the lyric "we're down the wire." definitely, definitely was inspired by the intense deadlines that yearbook presented. i thought it was fun to put a little of that stress into the lyrics. :)

a few months after "wires" was released, the ABC television show "Private Practice" ended an episode with this song. another sleeping at last song, "emphasis" was in the same episode as well, right before "wires" played. it was truly a privilege to have two songs in the same episode! so fun to hear my iphone beeps and blips on the TV too.. :)

thanks so much for reading! i have fun writing these little "how it was made" posts and remembering the process of each of these songs. thanks for listening!

much love, ryan



Carefully cut the wire and wait.
Life is a series of narrow escapes.

A chain reaction,
A loose thread that we must pull.

The birth of religion
In the challenge of the unknown.

But all desperation
Leads to a fork in the road -
We live for understanding
Or for control.

So very carefully we'll cut the wire and wait.

With one eye closed,
We'll draw back,
Catch our breath and let go...
Time is the string in between
The arrow and the bow.
If there's one thing we've learned
As our pulse returns -
Timing is everything.

If life is a series of narrow escapes,
We're shifting our weight
In this tightrope ballet.

We're down to the wire.