Eugene Marlow | My Heart Is Beating to the Rhythm of My Future

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Hip-Hop/Rap: Hip Hop Hip-Hop/Rap: Instrumental Hip-Hop Moods: Type: Soundtrack
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My Heart Is Beating to the Rhythm of My Future

by Eugene Marlow

This "rap" oriented track includes original lyrics, hip-hop drum samples, a chorus of student and professional "rappers," and improvised lines on electric guitar, sitar, Rhodes piano, steel drum, Middle-Eastern horn, steel drum, koto, and saxophone.
Genre: Hip-Hop/Rap: Hip Hop
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  Song Share Time Download
1. My Heart Is Beating to the Rhythm of My Future
4:19 album only
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
In late 2016, Aldemaro Romero, Jr., the Dean of the Weissman School of Arts and Sciences at Baruch College (City University of New York) called me into his office (as it happens I teach courses in media and culture at Baruch College). The reason for the conversation? He wanted to produce a music video about the school and wanted me to suggest (I thought) a music track for the video. I was in the process of making a few suggestions of extant music when he interrupted me and said “I want something original.”

In other words, he wanted me to create a piece of music—around four minutes--that would become the score for the video. Allow me to interject here that Dean Romero was well aware of my various music activities within and outside the college. So I was a logical choice to be involved with this.

He then asked me: “How much?” I thought about it for a few seconds and gave him what I thought would be a reasonable cost given that it would only be one track, as opposed to several album tracks, something I am quite familiar with. He agreed to the budget. He also agreed that since I would receive no fee for the project that the final track would be under my copyright.

I asked him for some thematic direction and some words he thought might be included in the track. It was agreed almost from the outset that the music track should incorporate lyrics, as opposed to a purely instrumental approach.

My next stop was, for me, an obvious one. I contacted Janet Lawson. Janet is not only a highly respected, Grammy-nominated singer, she also teaches vocals at The New School in New York City. More importantly, she is a gifted lyricist. We had previously worked together on several other projects where I had written the music and she had crafted the lyrics. She has a knack for coming up with just the right words to express a feeling or a concept. Her lyrics also convey some emotional depth. I met Janet at an ASCAP-sponsored jazz songwriting workshop led by the late Dr. Billy Taylor in 1980.

After conveying to Janet the themes the Dean was looking for, I asked her to come up with a few lines, just to see if we were on the right track. Within 24 hours Janet sent me this opening lyric: “My Heart Is Beating to the Rhythm of My Future.” Immediately I thought it was just right. I passed it on to the Dean who concurred. We had a very good beginning.

I ask Janet to expand on this theme. A couple of weeks later she sends me a more developed set of stanzas with a repeating hook: “I wonder yes, I wonder why, I wonder, do you wonder too?” It was just right given the academic context of the prospective video.

However, at this juncture I was beginning to come to a realization. While neither of us had ever been associated with a hip-hop or rap music project, she had inadvertently written an opening lyric with a strong four beat rap feel. Surprise, surprise, surprise. Problem was not all the lyrics had internal or ending rhymes. We went through four iterations of the lyrics before it was right. The Dean approved.

The next challenge was finding young rappers to record the lyrics. I thought this would be a relatively easy task. Not so. Also, there was the issue of scheduling the recording session. It took several weeks to find enough rappers who could record all on the same day. We ended up with several members of The Blue Notes, a Baruch College a cappella group, a jazz bass student from The New School with a propensity for rapping, plus a couple of youngish professional Hispanic singers. The icing on the cake was Dean Romero himself who was present at the recording session. When I turned around and said I really needed one more voice, his hand went up in an instant. His voice is included in the repeated “I wonder how” lyrics.

BTW, I should mention that in order to provide the so-called “rappers” with an aural guide to how the lyrics should be delivered rhythmically, I laid down a scratch track for everyone to “rap” to. My scratch track, however, was not included in the final mix. My vestigial English accent is too prominent and was not appropriate.

The recording of the rappers—one by one—was accomplished at Dubway Studios in the lower Manhattan financial district on March 19 (a Sunday!).

The overall structure of the track was in three sections: lyrics, an in the middle instrumental interlude, closing lyrics.

It was my concept going in that given the diversity of Baruch College’s student body—it is the most diverse public college in the United States—that this should be expressed somehow in the music track. This is what we did. Working with engineer Jim Gately at Valhalla Studios (also in New York City), we chose 10 public domain hip-hop/rap drum tracks from the Internet. We then laid these out in a somewhat arbitrary order. As it turned out, it was the right order.

When we got to the middle “instruments only” section I had jazz pianist virtuoso ArcoIris Sandoval improvise different culture sounding melodic lines using an electronic device that could generate different instrumental sounds. Each instrument melodic line lasted 18-seconds. For one of the lines I had her record the opening section of Bach’s C-minor prelude from the “Well Tempered Clavier” on the Rhodes keyboard that just happened to be sitting idle in the recording studio. She also improvised lines for sitar, koto, steel drum, South American pan flute, and Middle Eastern horn. The two other “instrumental" melodic lines were provided by Jim Gately (who also plays guitar) and Michael Hashim who recorded a “jazz” line on alto saxophone. All told the eight middle section instrumentals conveyed a sense of world music and, therefore, of a diverse culture.

The mixed track was mastered at Onomatopoeia, also in New York City.

When I delivered the mastered track to the Dean he almost immediately auditioned it for several student groups. According to the feedback the track hit the mark. The students got it. Once the video is shot and edited to the music track, Dean Romero intends to distribute the music video to as many outlets as possible.



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