Be Still My Heart
A new song in the manner of lutenists of the late Elizabethan and early Jacobean courts played on a Lowden S35C guitar
Peak: #15 (151,038 songs currently in Acoustic)
Peak in sub-genre: #4 (29,146 songs currently in Acoustic Guitar)
MP3 5.0 MB, bitrate 160 kbps.
David Kilpatrick © David Kilpatrick 2005
Story behind the song
There are two reasons for this recording. The song, Be Still My Heart, came from experiments with just intonation, vocal pitch and the equal temperament of modern guitars; it is sung entirely on a single note, but the changes in intervals produced by the guitar part alter this to imply the presence of melody. I am not the best person to sing this and it really requires a properly trained tenor singer better able to express the tiny variations in the absolute pitch of the single note (and, indeed, to hit it and hold it!).
The guitar obligato (the improvised instrumental middle section) consists of many stock phrases I have been working on for the last year or two, gradually. While I would be very unlikely to repeat this exactly, the elements I use to create it are standard patterns or phrases. These in turn are freely altered rythmically and have many variants of their own. It is unrehearsed, but all the parts which make up the solo are part of a 'language' for this type of music.
My new Lowden S35C guitar is recorded here for the first time since George Lowden returned it with a reprofiled neck and some further refinement to nut and saddle. It is strung with D'Addario EXP 12-53 gauge 80/20 bronze strings, 2 days old, and has been tuned carefully using my normal DADGBE tuning with emphasis on very accurate D octaves. The recording uses bare fingers and nails, with single AKG C3000B microphone about two feet away, and is a single take via a small Yamaha mixer into a Roland VS880-EX hard disk recorder. Reverb and compressor/limiter has been applied to the mono track, which is split into 90/90 degree panned stereo to use the stereo aspect of the reverb signal. The reverb is a little stronger than I normally use to simulate the conditions where this song would be at its best - a church or large Jacobean hall.
The words are improvised quickly as well and suggested improvements can be made: in the second line 'Had I but one note left of song' creates a fuller rhyme-scheme.
Be still my heart, beat not so fast
Lest this one beat should be thy last
Had I but one note left to sing
I would sing her name ever on
This my one note, this beat your last
Be still my heart, beat not so fast!