Swan

from by Francesca Baines

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about

Swan was written after hearing a fine musician play. He raised the hairs on my body and took directive of my soul, the ship. The time signature is an unusual 11/4 in the verse and 7/4 in the chorus to reflect the tidal inconstancies of time that rock and sway this vessel.. During the album recording period I was living above a wide harbour; where wind that plays with yacht masts and cable, industrious boat work, and cries of seagulls, were my most intimate and influential soundscape at the time. Echoing through my home, the Captain's House, I was inspired to interpret these sounds and atmospheres into the composition. Wind as the animator was recorded as it howled down the chimney and creaked through the house, and to imitate its vibration of cables, I sampled and layered cello harmonics. To echo the boat work and yacht masts, I experimented with prepared piano - tampering with the strings of a grand piano to bring out new harmonics and impure tones that have a cast-metal quality. The long dark reverb that was captured there as I scraped and distorted strings, for me evoked the haunting ambience of a lonely harbour night. The foghorn you hear in the piece is a cymbal played with a double-bass bow. More cymbals were scraped to join the flock of shrieking seagull recordings, and crash cymbal rolls by percussionist Joachim Mouflin were layered to create the splash of spraying waves.

lyrics

I told her the ship on the ocean
I told her what man could do
I told her how he stole her rudder
And overboarded her crew

I told her the ship he was Vela
The star that she sailed he blew
I told her how he slept on the waves that she webbed
By the tender pull of her moon

the swan he sang on my naked neck

I told her the ship he did sieze her
For carrying him at her prow
For casting adrift rope and anchor
And stowing his freight in her bow

I told her the ship he forgave her
For leaving her net on his shore
He's traveling her silver waters
And capsizing in her soul

the swan he sang on my naked neck

credits

from VelA, released October 21, 2012
Francesca Baines: voice, dulcimers, prepared piano, harbour sounds
Lea Miklody: cello
Joachim Mouflin: cymbals
Rik Appleby: bowed cymbal

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Francesca Baines Cork, Ireland

"A spirited and spiritual intervention in the world-music it celebrates.”

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