September 19, 2006 at 6:33 PMEver wonder why you need to take math, if all you want to do is play in a rock 'n' roll band?
Melissa not only wears cool shoes and plays in rock 'n' roll bands, but she also earned her degree in violin performance from Peabody Conservatory. She's a reliable stand partner in orchestra, attentive to musical details. Plus she's a bookworm who learned to read when she was two.
"Making an arrangement is very mathematical," she said, during a break from Beethoven 5. "I remembered a lot from my theory classes; I was really glad for all that rigorous training at Peabody."
Melissa has played for quite some time with Joshua Radin, so when he fell in love with the idea of having a string quartet accompany his song, "Star Mile," she was the logical person to take what she already had been doing by ear and set it on paper for a string quartet. She put herself to the task of balancing what she knew about the singer's genre and preferences with her own ideas about what would work with a string quartet. Also, she was balancing the instrumentation, because they would have to forego some guitar to get the right number of musicians on stage.
She wanted to make it interesting, but still within the bounds of comfort for the band.
"For example, singers don't necessarily like a lot of passing tones," she said. "But having a few in there is really nice."
Since her arrangement would see its premiere on national television, she had a few friends come over Sunday night to play it through, in case there were any bugs.
"It was really exciting to hear what I had done come to life," she said today, on her way to the studio. "I wasn't thinking of it as a big creative endeavor, I mean, it's someone else's song, but it was creative and fun to do."
The song "Star Mile," which is rather Simon and Garfunkel-esque, is featured in the movie The Last Kiss, which came out Sept. 15. The movie's star, Zach Braff, hails from the same school as I do, Northwestern University, and you can hear the song by simply clicking over to Zach's MySpace page. And if this suddenly makes you want more well-crafted, new pop music (a rarity these days, and not easy to find on the radio), here's some fun video.
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