Matter of Time

  • Submitted on time! Sep 24, 2023

Ok! So! Can’t believe I wrote a chorus before anything else—I don’t think I’d ever pulled it off before. Here’s how the process went for me: began researching the Jurassic Period and, at some point, learned that the first birds appeared on Earth during that time. And shortly before that, the first flowers appeared. So I began wondering whether the presence of flowers demanded more pollinators and therefore evolution produced birds. Turns out that’s not how it happened, but I still liked the story. Wrote down the lyric “one of us was always gonna fly” and began stewing on it. Thought it was a pretty rich metaphor for the inevitability of change within a given relationship—good friends, partners, parent and child, etc. Followed that line and really enjoyed the lyric-writing process. Ran out of time on the mix (lol the compression) but am very happy with the song. Not sure that the grandiosity is necessary in the arrangement, to be honest—I’d like to try a smaller thing. Oh, and for primitive percussion, I played one full take of live drum kit on top of the drum samples (I am not a drummer) into one mic. Anyhow, can’t wait to record this one properly. String players included.

One of us was always gonna fly

One of us was always gonna take to the sky

Look how long

How blue

How me

How you

One of us was always gonna lose

Well first it was the flowers

Colors in the endless steppe

I couldn’t turn my head away

From the beginning of the end

The wind it built a tower

A fear it settled in my chest

The trumpets in the grove went playin’

The sound of what’s unsaid:

Oh it’s

some kind of pain

To see you off

No I

Won’t know my way

Without your love

But one of us was always gonna fly

One of us was always gonna take to the sky

Look how long

How blue

How me

How you

One of us was always gonna lose


Looking for feedback on

Any tweaks to the melodies you'd like to make? How about the background harmonies?


Ben October 6, 2023 1:40pm

This song is so swooping. More like “one of us already is flying” am i right? Love that it starts swooping right off the bat. 90M years before bats came out.

This is poppy and radio friendly. The strings are very… I don’t even know. Like, mid-00s pop? The staccato jabs + the string pad + your (slightly filtered?) voice is really effective.

I had this thought at the beginning: This intro is extremely lush instrumentation coupled with fairly unlush vocals (your vocals get way lusher in other verses and choruses). Curious what the intro would would sound like, and what it would communicate if it were: A.) inverted: stripped back instrumentation + fully lush vox; B.) fully ready to go and coming in hot: Lush instr + lush vox; or C.) stripped back and intro-y: stripped back instruments + the filtered vox you already have there.

My gut tells me you have it right but for some reason i’m dying to hear what the other permutations would sound like.

Other thoughts:

The bass and kick sound so good and full together.

The spacing is so good. really feels like its tracked with a full band and orch section in a giant studio. it’s definitely because of your performances but, it’s also whatever you did auraly to make it take up space. there’s some good air in this track.

1:34 “how…” Tom Petty

Could the gtr solo be beefed up like 14.05%?

The final verse hits.

The other thing I’m curious about and would love to hear versions of: Could the hits on the “oh it’s”‘s be slightly different each time it happens? I dunno I’m spitballing here, but it was such a nice surprise when it happened the first time at around 1:00 that I almost wish the surprise could be saved for the second time? like maybe lighter hats/cymbals the first time? and like slightly play through the section a little less “hitty” that first time so that the second time around 2;12 hits? Maybe like one less instrument playing the hits that first time? Not sure. Either way, they’re great hits.

Is there a volume hike at 2:56-57? Not important. disregard.

Lastly and most importantly, I love this type of concept. Like… fish didn’t just gradually morph limbs that became legs; monkeys didnt just gradually stand up straighter over millions of years. Mutations and adaptations happen so randomly and succeed so so so infrequently, and yet, here were are, with legs and good upright posture (well…) and big brains (eh…), and birds and bugs that fly and like flowers. Everything that happens happens because in general, things work better that way. And if they don’t work better, then evolution and co-evolutions continue.

“I began wondering whether the presence of flowers demanded more pollinators and therefore evolution produced birds. Turns out that’s not how it happened, but I still liked the story.” In a way, that is what happened. Sure there were other reasons why some animals that had wings had a specific advantage over others and could better survive and reproduce, but also… flying creatures and flowers both exist today, eons later, and their relationship with each other is still close. When you zoom out and look at mother earth like the big complex united system that it is, it’s not hard to anthropomorphize it and think of it as demanding and producing pollinators to fill a niche (of course passively, over millions of years, through a series of random mutations). Because flowers happened. And birds happened. If by chance pollinators didn’t happen, or for some reason they died off, flowers would’ve either given up and died, or figured things out by continuing to evolve. Dandelions figured something similar out: flying to distribute seeds, no birds needed.

Ryan October 9, 2023 12:31pm

Love a Bilverman stream of consciousness response.

Yes, great idea on the hits being slightly different each time! I was so psyched on the hits that I forgot to introduce variation. I think your exact proposal would work super well.

Dandelions are the raddest of them all. But what I’m referring to in ‘not how it happened’ is that in the limited research I was able to do for this assignment, it seems that flowers had this figured out both with themselves and bugs long before birds came around. So I was just trying to account for the large gap between flowers and birds that my song conveniently ignores haha. But yes, good gawd is evolution beautiful and magical.

Ryan October 9, 2023 12:34pm

Oh question on the guitar solo beef: tonal beef, compositional beef, or volume beef?

Ben October 9, 2023 12:46pm (edited)

i think maybe a hair of volume, but mostly just a small bump in tonal meat. maybe like 8% less flower fiber, and like 6% more stegosaurus meat. I think the notes are A+. The tone itself is actually good – it just maybe needs slightly more of whatever it is? maybe just more mids? I don’t actually know.

It’s interesting – i’ve never thought about this before but: The solo’s at that tricky length and has that composition where it’s alllmost short enough and the melody is almost reminiscent enough of the vocal melody to be an interlude, not a full solo. But I think we might be in solo territory here.

Do you have plans for this song outside of ncbc?

Ryan October 10, 2023 10:47am

Yeah, you’re right. I ended up on a tele for the solo but maybe it should’ve been a humbucker. Keep the clarity, but add some body.

Mm, interesting observation re: the length. I wonder if it could get away with being half the length and stay comfortably in interlude territory. Or, if it were even a little longer (maybe with the strings joining half way through), then it could help drive toward that second pre-chorus and maybe justify the ‘hits’ showing up again.

Yeah I think this one will likely make it into the next collection of tunes I plan to release properly. A big batch of folk-rock-ish songs seems to be emerging.

Ben October 10, 2023 12:36pm

ah yeah, tele. that checks out.

I think those are the two best options. either a short melody-driven interlude, or a longer solo that functions as a bridge.

I’ve never really put these interlude vs solo thoughts into words before, but it’s definitely a thing.

Now I wanna make a list of some iconic/favorite parts that i’d define as “interludes” and see what they have in common

nick September 26, 2023 10:52am

couldn’t help yourself :00-:02 😂

no i think this is wonderful, and like alec said, incredibly sweet. That first “oh it’s some kind of pain” is truly excellent, lyrically and musically—really strong harmonies there. In the first verse, I’d find a way to ditch all the non-crucial words… like “Well first”, “The colors” “I couldn’t.” It would make the whole thing sing more speak, which I think would be nice.

Only other thought would be experimenting with a distinct chord change under the repeating outro, at least at 3:01 under that beautiful little high note. for instance some version of a D#7 could be really special. nice job on this one.

Ryan October 4, 2023 2:29pm

hahaha yeah dude, I love holding hands.

I hear you on removing little words to make it “singier”, and I tried that (because Zoya always wants to erase syllables, too) but I didn’t like what it did for the lyrics. Made them feel heavy-handed. But that smells like something I possibly just need to get over?

Yes to the distinct chord change! Right now I use the relative minor in place of the usual chord in that extension, but it could get even funkier. I’ll take a gander at that 7.

alechutson September 25, 2023 12:00pm

This is a very sweet and thoughtful song. I like that you spent time researching and formulating a hypothesis. Even if it’s not scientifically accurate, lyrically I think this allows for a much more cohesive approach to storytelling which I think you achieved wonderfully.

As for harmonies…you know me – I’m all about thick vocal arrangements. Probably not for the whole song, but maybe some bigger choral arrangements for the later choruses might help it open up more?

Ryan October 4, 2023 2:30pm

Thanks, Alec! Glad the story worked for you. Yeah it’s true, I should let it get a little thicker. I think that’ll be possibly when I inevitably tap a bunch of background singers for the proper recording of this track.

EliasSZ October 8, 2023 2:10pm

I also wanted something bigger from the vocal arrangements. The cinematic nature of the strings had me craving some giant vocal sections – maybe right after the guitar solo (which was sweet, by the way). Or maybe just on the “Look how long How Blue How Me How You” the choral arrangements could swell, grow, build, leading in to some huge vocal chords on the penultimate line, before it cuts back to just you on the last “One of us was always gonna lose.”

agasthya September 24, 2023 10:22pm

wow this is lush! vocals after the guitar solo are really lovely. I tend towards maudlin in my production instincts but I would love to hear a few gratuitous drum fills into the chorus throughout. love the imagery!

Ryan September 25, 2023 10:48am (edited)

Completely agreed. I was only able to nab about thirty minutes with a drum kit for this, so I played it conservatively. But I really wanted some fills to open up the choruses. Sneaked ONE in at the end haha. Anyhow, yep, good call.

stonewindow September 24, 2023 9:45pm

Melodies and harmonies are killer.

Ryan September 25, 2023 10:49am

Thanks, Brit!