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Richie English was kind enough to share another part of his behind-the-scenes look at the making of the upcoming song, “Not So Different”, which benefits Autism awareness and features John Rzeznik.


Hey everyone! I wanted to write a short “Part II” about the recording sessions for “Not So Different,” which

we’ve just finished tracking- we’re working on the mix for it and with total sincerity I can tell you all that it’s a tour de force.

This was without question one of the most challenging scores I’ve ever written; I went through five separate drafts of the string score- once I heard Cassandra, Mary, and John singing, inspiration struck. The problem I encountered was in defining what the inspiration was, exactly, and where it came from. When I’m composing a score, it’s crucial for me to identify the very specific vantage-point from which I’m writing- is the timbre of the instruments the source of the spark- for example- or maybe the interaction between the lyrical content and the instruments accompanying the voices?

This particular score was tremendously difficult to craft, in this regard. I have a sort of verbal lexicon I use when referring to these types of things. What I’ve described above- the initial spark-point of inspiration- is something I call ‘The Lantern.’ I constantly read as much as I can about music: composer biographies, treatises about orchestration, style, general history of music and society, and so forth. A beautiful analogy I’ve come across which describes the process for a composer and musical inspiration as something like this: standing outside in total blackness covering a landscape. A brief flash of lightning illuminates the entire landscape in one quick burst. My job as a composer is to fire up my proverbial “Lantern” and set about retracing that landscape in as much detail as possible.

My “Lantern” is the musical element that guides my writing- how my contribution is going to function, its primary purpose, and subsequent unfolding. For “Not So Different,” it was very hazy to decide which “Lantern” was lit, and would best serve as my guide to retracing the entire landscape that I briefly saw. I just wasn’t satisfied with the initial things I wrote, and for days it occupied me. Finally, after tons of reading, thinking- and praying!- it hit me: each of the three voices sing solo sections of the lyrics, and gradually unify as the song progresses. Cassandra, Mary, and John both have three very different timbres, and each is spellbinding in very different ways. The separation and gradual culmination of the three voices was what sparked the inspiration, and this was the gateway through which my orchestration would emerge and into which it would retreat. Finally I knew everything I needed about my Lantern, and I was able to (very carefully) craft something that was worthy of the piece as a whole.

I’ll be sending along a “Part III” soon, and it’ll describe much more about the singers and players- and the work of Armand Petri, of course. I’ve just written and recorded a string score for a song on the incredible new Goo Goo Dolls record (which I’ll write about when I’m given the green-light!), and that was a huge effort that wound up being one of the most unforgettable sessions I’ve ever been blessed to be part of.

I’ll close by saying a few things here: in addition to the brilliant performances of Cassandra and Mary, all Goo Goo Dolls fans will ABSOLUTELY want to hear this track. In my estimation, it is one of John’s most moving performances- heart-rending and unmistakable. The last thing I’d like to say for now is something that was said to me by my doctor- the brilliant Dr. John Chong, who operates Musicians Clinics of Canada, and is a pioneer in the treatment of musicians both physically and psychologically. This is something he said to me that really inspired my outlook on autism and allowed me an entirely new perspective on it. To quote Dr. Chong: It’s all about connectivity and what circuits in the brain are higher and lower. Highly skilled and creative minds, especially performers such as Glenn Gould or composers such as Eric Satie, have exceptionally high functionality as described by Hans Asperger and often meet the criteria of autistic spectrum disorder.

What is most important is that the industry recognized and accommodates these individuals’ special needs and health care professionals care for the unique medical needs of these very amazing individuals.
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