The Repertoire

 

Air on A G String (Orchestral Suite No. 3 in D major, 2nd Movement by J. S. Bach) 

Although it is called orchestral the second movement only uses the strings section. The first and second violins and violas play the interweaving contrapuntal lines floating over the pulsating basso continuo played by the celli and basses. In Tone’s arrangement the guitars play the all of the string parts.

 

Gary Booker said of Procol Harum’s A Whiter Shade of Pale, “It does a bar or two of Bach's Air on a G String before it veers off”. Doane’s playing on the piece really captures Billy Eyden’s original feel and fills from that hit record. 

 

The Moonlight Sonata (Piano Sonata No. 14 in C♯ minor by Ludwig van Beethoven) The piece was named five years after Beethoven’s death when a music critic compared it's sound to moonlight reflecting off of a lake. Tone noted, “I want to combine the shimmer of the moonlight with the tolchock of the muskets and cannons from The Battle of Vitoria. I want to out Beethoven Beethoven.”

 

Tone loved telling the story of how, when Beethoven’s orchestral piece The Battle of Vitoria was played, the critics disparaged it as corny and unoriginal. And how Beethoven’s response to them was, “What I shit is better than anything you could ever think up!”

 

This was the first piece recorded for Amp L'étude. It was the genesis of the album. Tone explained his inspiration, “When I heard Joe Satriani’s Hill of the Skull  I said, ‘OK, If he can do that, I can rock a little bit of the ole Ludwig van.' ” In his playing he also tips his hat to Jimi Hendrix.

 

Piano Prelude No.1  (The Well Tempered Clavier Book 1 by J.S. Bach) 

This piece is part of a study for Piano that includes pieces in all 12 keys. Prelude No.1 is probably the best known of all of the Bach Preludes.

 

In Tone’s version he uses an digital delay to repeat the 3rd, 4th an 5th notes as the 6th. 7th and 8th notes to end each phrase. He said, “It’s almost as if Bach composed the piece intending for it to be played with this technology.”

 

The Swan ( by Camille Saint-Saëns) 

 

The piece was #13 of a suite of 15 pieces called The Carnival of Animals. It was originally scored for two pianos and solo cello. 

 

The arrangement of this piece, as with all the pieces on Amp L’étude, is note for note as it was written in the score. But, as with several of the pieces in this album, the arrangement and production of the The Swan draws on the playing and settings of an existing rock icon: Robert Fripp. His Frippertronic pieces like Wind on Water influenced the sound of the background guitars. Tone also used another bit of Fripp’s technology. The piano arpeggios in the second piano part are here played on gated guitar, a sound Fripp pioneered. Something that Fripp would probably never do Tone does by playing the melody over this setting.

 

Ave Maria (Ellen's Third Song by Franz Schubert)

This piece is a part of Schubert’s setting of Walter Scott's poem The Lady of the Lake. In the poem Ellen, exiled to the Scottish Highlands’, lives in a cave. She sings this song as a prayer to the Virgin Mary. 

 

Tone said, “I always was intrigued with how the mystic poet Rumi was able to express his devotional love for his god with the language of romantic love.” Taking inspiration from two Beatles’ love songs, and applying  them to this religious piece, Tone was able to do just that. He drew from the production values of  I Want You (She So Heavy) and Girl and overlaid those features on this prayer. 

Piano Preludes #4, #6, #7 and #20 (by Frédéric Chopin)

These four of the 24 preludes by Chopin express a melancholy that permeated a good deal of his work. The names that the pieces came to be know by after his death are; #4: Above the Grave, #6: The Tolling Bells. #7: Memories float like perfume through my mind, #20: Funeral March. In fact preludes #4 and #6 were played at Chopin's funeral.

  

Tone commented, “My droogs all told me how much my sound on #4 and #6 was like Eric Clapton’s playing from the 60s.”  #7 uses the technique perfected by George Harrison and Jimi Hendrix of recording guitar lines backwards. #20 is given drive with the addition of Doane’s drumming.

Piano Prelude # 10, The Sunken Cathedral  (by Claude Debussy)

The piece is based on a legend in which a cathedral, submerged off the coast of Brittany rises up out of the sea one day every year. The sounds of priests chanting, church bells ringing, and an organ playing can be heard rising from under the water. 

 

About the Debussy’s prelude Tone said, "In my version, instead of the cathedral sinking back into the sea, it rises into the sky like the floating castles in Japanese anime. Calling Terry Gilliam! Terry are you listening?"

 

To give it an orchestral sound 18 guitar tracks were recorded. Leopold Stokowski’s orchestral arrangement also was a dominant influence. Tone drew very heavily on a number of Jimi Hendrix songs in his processing choices for the guitars. The underwater sounds like those from 1983 (A Merman I Should Turn to Be) also seemed an appropriate addition.

O Fortuna  (from Carmina Burana by Carl Orff)

The text for this piece is taken from a latin poem from the 13th century. Having been used in countless soundtrack for movies, TV shows, ads and video games, it is now known as the most overused piece of music in film history.

 

Tone’s response to that was, “Fuck it. Let’s rock it! Let's make it real horrorshow!” With the help of Garry Kvistad on orchestral percussion, Maria Todaro conducting the choir and Doane on drums they provided the “rock” in “rock it” all in support of Tone’s guitar.

To hear excerpts of these pieces: Tracks

To see excerpts of these pieces with animation: Videos

To look at the characters on the front cover up close: Zoom