Watch: Justin Vernon, Bryce Dessner And So Percussion's 'Music For Wood And Strings'
Here's music with a great backstory and unique evolution. "Music for Wood and Strings" began with an idea from Bryce Dessner who not only conceived of the music but invented the instrument the music was played on. As So Percussion's Adam Sliwinski has been playing these "chordsticks" while they perform "Music for Wood and Strings" and explains that "chordsticks are a hybrid instrument which cross the sound properties of an electric guitar with the playing action of hammered dulcimers. In order to write any of this music, Bryce first had to commission the instruments from Aron Sanchez (Buke and Gase). Once he had a few built, he brought them to us (So Percussion) to discover what they could do."Music for Wood and Strings" grew out of Bryce watching us play the chordsticks. He decided that playing string instruments didn't prevent us from still playing intricate rhythmic patterns! Aside from one string on the bass instrument, none of the chordsticks have frets — each chord is fixed and the musical texture is achieved by bouncing notes around the ensemble. We play them with plain #2 pencils, which started as placeholder beaters but ended up doing the job well."
Adam Sliwinski says that this track is one of the bands most appealing tracks in live performance even as an instrumental track. "On this new version of the track — we think of it as more than a simple remix — Bryce, Justin and Sean (the latter two, members of Bon Iver) turn the original piece into a compelling background for a beautiful song. We never worked directly with Justin or Sean on the track because our portion is just the first four minutes of our recording. We LOVE what they have done with it, and are honored that musicians from a band that people hold in such high regard wanted to make something with it that is entirely their own."
"The chains of collaboration and community that led to this song cover a lot of ground: Some of the members of So Percussion have known Bryce since his days studying music at Yale — Bryce knows Aron Sanchez from his band Buke and Gase who record for Bryce's record label Brassland — and we've since become collaborators with Buke and Gase and recently cut an album with them (yet unreleased). Finally, Bryce knows the Bon Iver folks from his travels with his indie rock band The National, whom So Percussion has also collaborated with. (You can hear flashes of us on their Grammy winning record Sleep Well Beast). This is a simple song, but the family tree that led to it arises from very rich soil."
As for the video, it was created by A Noah Harrison who I need to make note, was an intern here at All Songs Considered not long ago. He wrote to say that the video considers "the relationship between man's creative process and the greater forces of nature that permit it. The video juxtaposes human creation with the destruction of our natural world, and the inherent connection between them. As we zoom into this man-made grid, we see the artist create a form reminiscent of a snowflake alongside the artificial re-forming of polar ice caps. Reversed, water here is sucked from the sea and adheres to the glacier. Near the end of the video, these processes flip: the snow begins to melt in a natural way as man begins to un-create in an artificial way. It seems as we continue to build up our material world, we remix, edit and delete our natural world."
More streaming information on streaming "Music for Wood and Strings" can be found here
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