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Written by Josh Millard
Year: 2010
Recordings:
Lyrics:
(instrumental)

Stumble

Track six off of Inchoatery — a sort of stumbling waltz in 5/4, the protagonist literally and/or figuratively wobbling along unsteadily in a coda to Drunk Again.

I don’t really do instrumentals, generally speaking; almost all of my songwriting under normal circumstances starts with a lyric and goes from there. But at the start of February I sat down at the piano and spent a couple hours aggressively doodling, trying to come up with some musical figures that could be useful for developing songs on Inchoatery.

Stumble started out as one of those, and unlike some of the other ideas I generated that night it felt like something that should stay on the piano. Once I had the notion of having it follow Drunk Again, and came up with the ascending b-part, I decided it could just stay an instrumental.

Writing something in 5/4 isn’t particularly hard, even if you have to count it out by brute force, and I found that for just the piano bit I didn’t even have to do that as the rhythm began to feel fairly natural after a couple days. Writing something rhythmically interesting in 5/4 is another matter, and I don’t feel like I did a great job on that front—the essential beat of the song never changes throughout this track, that “BUM bum bum BUM bum” tempus just repeating constantly. It would have been nice to incorporate some different rhythmic figures into the song to keep it from feeling, as I think it does, a bit plodding. Which works well enough in this case, but it’s definitely not quite what I might hope for if I had the time to do a more thorough job.

The second half of the song features a Moog Etherwave theremin, a very fun little instrument that I’m not very good with yet. The theremin requires steady hands in mid-air with no tactile point of reference, and that’s not something I’m having much success with so far. Given the thematic conceit of the song, some tonal wobbliness seemed okay here, though.

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