Someone must be cutting onions in here, because I'm tearing up watching this.
**Editing to add: I was so excited to put down my thoughts and what I (correctly) guessed the process to be, I had not actually read at that point Joanne's notes that basically already mentioned the same things!. Oh well, I took all the time to type it out so I'm gonna keep it posted anyway.
Joanne, I cannot begin to express the admiration and respect I am feeling towards you right now. However, as this is the user showcase forum, for the moment I will focus on the sheer brilliance and creative ingenuity that went into the production of this track.
For you folks that need a little context, I refer you to the link Joanne included in her post. The short version is that Meg had a little snippet of a recording of a song her Nana wrote with her sister for the soldiers in WWII. Nana had just passed away after succumbing to dementia, and the idea was to convert this snippet of a recording into a full-on song, with fragments of her Nana's singing incorporated into that song.
Now here's the thing. Said snippet was obtained by Meg years back, it was likely recorded on a cellphone, and there was no adherence to tempo or key. Indeed, at the beginning of the recording you can hear someone prompting Nana to sing. Nana is asking "What, now," and you then hear "Yes, now." That's it. And then you hear an elderly lady singing a song from her past. It's poignant and almost eerie, but technically polished it isn't.
Enter Charlie Fogle and Joanne Cooper. They cleaned up the audio, stretched it out, did all sorts of technical magicry using BIAB and other software, and got the snippet tamed and compatible with a melodic structure.
But this is only the beginning. Let's turn our attention to the track itself.
Given Nana's advanced age when this was recorded, the pitch of her voice was orders of magnitude lower than Ms. Cooper's mellifluous pipes (we're talking Leonard Cohen low). So how was Joanne to have them both sing on the same track given the monumental disparity in their respective vocal ranges?
Allow me to direct your attention to 0:56 in the track. Up until now, Nana's had the floor. (Incidentally, the way Joanne incorporated the beginning of the recording--where Nana is being prompted to sing, is stunningly poignant in its own right, but I digress).
Back to 0:56. Nana has sung, and now it's time for Joanne to give this tribute an angel's wings. A trio of chords smoothly modulates the arrangement into a different key where Joanne take it away. That, good folks, is sheer genius!
But it doesn't end there.
You see, Joanne is not content to simply confine Nana to the head of the song and leave at that. Joanne wants to trade phrases with Nana call-and-response style. What's that, you say? Nana's no longer with us? Hah! Joanne sneers
Between approx 1:55 and 2:10 Joanne creates a bridge in the song, (you could also say a "bridge" between the living and the dead if you want to get all poetic about it!), where Joanne sings the high part (the "call") and Nana's super-low voice is heard to sing the low part (the "response.") perfectly in key. I would not be at all surprised if Joanne's choice of that particular key she modulated the song into at 0:56 was chosen precisely for that bridge.
There is so much more I could say, and have yet to say, about this but I have other matters to attend to (work mainly
). Thanks a million for everything Joanne and Charlie!