Music For Commuting – Frequently (and Infrequently) Asked Questions
Is the music solely for commuting?
Absolutely not. When I came up with the title, I meant it more as music for commuting through life. I know, it sounds lame. I can assure you it is the deepest thought I had all year.
How long did it take to record so many songs?
The entire recording process took about six months.
How were the songs composed?
I usually started with a cool sound from one of the synths and took it from there. Sometimes I would come up with an idea, write some chords down and go with it. Many other times I improvised on the fly. Once the initial track was completed, I would go back and layer different sounds on top. While it is not Radiohead cool – there is a lot of stuff going on in the background of most tracks. While most of my original piano work involves painstaking advanced composition, this was a total change in direction.
Is the title an hommage to Brian Eno’s Music For Airports?
I would be lying if I said no. Briano Eno is the Godfather of ambient music. However, I really did not listen to Music For Airports until after I finished recording this project. The music is more inspired by Pink Floyd and a lot of 80’s pop music I grew up with.
What is the deal with some of the song titles – like “Stephanie Seymour” and “John Hughes?”
I am terrible at naming songs, so I farmed out the majority of the song titles to my friends and family. A friend came up with “Stephanie Seymour” which inspired me to come up with “John Hughes.” The latter track reminded me of background in all his movies, and it was a great loss when he passed away.
Describe how each of the 6 albums are different?
Monday is dark and droning. Tuesday is also a little on the dark side, but brightens up at some points. Wednesday is filled with what I refer to as upbeat anthems. Thursday has the lion share of what I call 1980’s synth music. Friday starts to get surreal and futuristic. Beyond is straight out of the 2050’s – totally spacey.
Were any samples used?
I used one sample of some seagulls very faintly in the track “Far Rockaway.” Don’t worry I got full permission.
How many songs were composed overall?
When I started this process I numbered each song or scratch idea. I ended up with a total of 168 individual ideas, probably about 90 full tracks. Music For Commuting contains 60 tracks, there will be a 20 song outtake CD released in 2012.
How many different synthesizers were used?
I used a Nord Lead 2 and then later a Nord Lead 2X as my main keyboard synth. I then used about 5 or 6 different other synths, some more than other. I would say I probably used the Nord and the Access Virus TI snow the most. While I own a real Rhodes and Wurlitzer, I do not have the skills to mic them properly, so I ended up using the Nord’s electric piano sounds, which are actually quite good. I also did very little tweaking of synth patches, as I did not have the time – meaning most of the sounds are factory presets that came with the synths. I also had someone create a few patches for me.
Was everything recorded live, or was splicing/looping used?
There was very little splicing or looping done with this project. I can think of two tracks I did some looping on, and I think those two are both slated for the outtake CD. I did no punching in, no MIDI tricks and very little editing. I really don’t have the Logic/Pro Tools editing skills, nor is that my style.
What’s next for Ken Elkinson?
I have three projects I am working on. The first is a lullaby solo piano CD. The next is an original piano solo CD. The last is a vocal acoustic rock/folk CD, but I plan to take 2 years of voice lessons before doing that. I will probably return to more ambient music down the road, as I really enjoyed this project.