Graeme Rosner | Close Harmonies (And Other Drugs)

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Close Harmonies (And Other Drugs)

by Graeme Rosner

This album is heavily influenced by soul and jazz, featuring a 3 piece horn section, string trio, and a strong rhythm section. It takes the listener through my experiences with life and personal relationships.
Genre: Blues: Blues-Rock
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  Song Share Time Download
1. Moonlight
3:05 $0.99
2. Echoes so Soft
2:10 $0.99
3. Not Tonight
1:56 $0.99
4. Sad Clown
2:39 $0.99
5. Old Friend (Live)
2:18 $0.99
6. Good Start (Towards Forever)
1:49 $0.99
7. Light Goes On (I Saw Her)
3:25 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
I am a second year composition major at the University of South Carolina, and I have been writing music for about 6 years. This album is a compilation of 3 songs I have written over the years and 4 songs that I wrote just for this album.

To me, this isn't 7 songs. It's really one piece with 7 closely related movements in both harmonic and thematic structure. I wrote the three "pillars" of the album over the course of 5 years. Moonlight I wrote during my freshman year of high school, Sad Clown after my junior year, and Light Goes On during my first year of college.

Once I decided to make the album, I rearranged the three songs I had into ensembles that I thought were appropriate, then I sat down to try to figure out how to make a complete album out of it. I decided upon 7 songs as a nice number because this allowed me to use Sad Clown as the center of the album and reflect everything between Moonlight and Light Goes on around it. The next thing I did was figure out how I could relate the 3 songs harmonically. Moonlight and Light Goes On are both, fittingly, in the key of F, a very important key to me as someone who has been playing the French Horn for 10 years. Sad Clown, however, is in Ab.

I decided to utilize something I had recently learned about the circle of fifths. I had learned that as you go counterclockwise, or towards the flat side, the perceived intervals get closer together and "darker", and as you go clockwise, towards the sharp side, the intervals get bigger and "brighter". I quickly realized that I wanted the album to darken as it approached Sad Clown, and brighten up on the other side. With this in mind, I chose the key of Bb for Echoes, C minor or Eb for Not Tonight, Eb and C minor again for Old Friend, and Bb for Good Start. This creates a very clear trajectory for the album, it spirals downward both in the content of the songs and in the harmonic relationships until it reaches the depths of Sad Clown (a song I wrote after having my heart broken for the first time), before building back up to Light Goes On.

Once I knew the keys, I essentially knew what the album was all about. I wrote the 4 inner "movements" in order over the course of about a month. After that, it was time to head to the studio. Most of the album was recorded in Jason Kapp's studio on his beautiful farm in North Garden, Virginia. My father Paul Rosner and Jason Kapp, a close friend and former band mate of his, produced this album and recorded all the rhythm section parts. I owe so much to Jason Kapp for letting us use his studio, his talent, and his free time for no cost whatsoever. We recorded all of the basic tracking over a few weeks, including some incredible guitar takes from Andrew Green, a local guitar and banjo player. Soon, it was time for me to head up to Pittsburgh to help my sister Zoe move. While there, I recorded a string trio made up of her on viola, her husband Rich Harbison on bass, and Joshua Huang on violin.

After I got back, it was go time. Over the next week we spent almost every single day in the studio, getting all of the vocal takes in two days, as well as the piano takes and my flugelhorn solo on Sad Clown. One of the most exciting days of the whole process was on Wednesday the 9th of August, when we went to Bobby Read, someone I had hardly dreamed of even meeting, and used both his studio and his immense talent to record the three piece horn section, made up of Bobby himself on tenor sax, Nathaniel Lee on trombone, and Ross Ahlhorn on trumpet. Later that same day we recorded the most ambitious of the songs, Old Friend, which is an original composition based on Lauridsen's "O Magnum Mysterium", a personal favorite of mine. His piece actually spurred the name for the album, as it is the piece that started my fascination with close harmonies. My piece is a trio made up of Nathaniel Lee on trombone, Pearse Lee (a fellow Charlottesville High School graduate as well as an excellent friend and killer clarinet player), and myself on flugelhorn. We recorded the piece live on the Downtown Mall of Charlottesville, and in the recording you can hear ambient noises of the mall itself.

On Saturday the 12th of August, 2017, at the exact moment that the despicable Unite the Right rally was taking place, we chose to protest hatred by making music. I reached out to the Patek family: Dana, Steve, Leah, and my close friend Max, about recording a choir part for my album, and they enthusiastically agreed. We met in the Martin Luther King Performing Arts Center (fittingly named given the circumstances of the day), to record the angelic choir part that you can hear on Light Goes On. In order to achieve the huge choir effect, we recorded the Pateks all over the stage, and I think it turned out fantastically. Max also contributed backup vocals to a few of the pieces later that day. My brother, Noah Rosner, was also able to contribute backup vocals, meaning that both of my siblings, my brother in law, and my father are on the album. To make sure I have somewhere to come home to on the holidays it should be noted that my mother contributed a great deal in terms of feedback, financial support, and bringing me into the world in the first place!

All told the album features some 16 people, and was recorded in three studios (including the Carnegie Mellon bass studio), a side street on the Downtown Mall, and the MLK Performing Arts Center at Charlottesville High School. A very special thank you to Jason Kapp and Bobby Read for letting me use their studios and for co-producing and mastering it respectively. This album is a collaborative effort that is deeply rooted in Charlottesville.



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