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Workshop #245: Salam by Ksatriya

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This track has been submitted for your friendly, constructive criticism. What useful feedback can you give the artist? The floor is yours to talk about the track and how they can fix problems in and improve upon the mix and the song.

Description of the track:

This is an experimental rap/spoken word piece that I wrote during a time of communal and religious tension in my country. I wanted to convey a sense of our shared destiny and bring people together. "Salam" means peace in Arabic and Malay.

The song was recorded in a studio with an Audio-Technica mic (I forget the exact model). Here's a little more info about the piece:

1. Composition and arrangement
We (my producer and I) basically went with Fm and left the tonic to the chorus. I considered a key change for the chorus but decided that the song was pretty complex already and I didn't want to jolt the listener any further. In retrospect, I think it was a good decision(?) as it gives the song a rather hypnotic and relaxing quality.

2. Style and Theme
We wanted an exotic sound that was still easy to relate to, so we used a guitar with an arabic/oriental style riff instead of a more traditional instrument. The rest of the instrumentation is pretty standard.

The narrative is very much inspired by Dante's Inferno, although I obviously simplified it for this piece. The listener is introduced to a poet who visits a level of Hell reserved for violence and zealotry.

3. Lyrics
I think I spent the longest time agonizing over whether the listener would 'get it'. In the end I decided to go with it anyway. Let me know if the lyrics make sense to you? Can you follow the story easily?

Basically, in the first verse I'm setting up the atmosphere and introducing the listener to the poet. I then left it hanging whether the poet had died from his fever of if this whole thing is a dream.

The second verse takes us to Hell, where the poet sees the atrocities of hate and violence in the name of religion. The imagery for this verse was inspired by media pictures of the Libyan uprising (not the same, I know) as well as various other images from the aftermath of attacks and bombings.

In the final verse, the violence has caught up with the poet and he pays a terrible price. I couldn't resist adding the first line about how much of these things are politically motivated. The poet resents that such a thing has happened to him (we assume he is undeserving of this fate) and mouths a final warning/curse before the end.

4. Vocals
I wanted the vocals to sound harrowed/desperate and went with my throat voice instead of chest voice. Do you think that was a good decision or you're not feeling it?

Artist's website: www.reverbnation.com/ksatriya



The sun goes dark
No stars tonight
The streets are fires of man-made plight

The wind wears wings
Of ill-borne will
that flutter still on window sills

The pen that wrought
these pearls of thought
has long since ceased its tortured course

Wrapped in shrouds of fever dreams,
a poet hears the angels sing


His feet now fall
on a soot-stained floor
and his knees go weak at the sight that’s wreaked

A blasted field
of fire and steel
And all humanity seemed to burn within

a violent, writhing, man-made sea
of blood and bullets and RPGs

Heaven cries out with heavy tears!
(But the hate’s so loud Man can’t hear)


In flames well-fed by fossil fuels,
the scythe of Death deals its due
his heart goes cold, soot stains his face
but his voice still fills that dismal place:

Then let my final verse now flow –
Elude us ALL those pearly gates,
till hearts of peace undo the hate.”


Credits Salam Lyrics by Ksatriya Featuring the vocal talent of Ms. Regina Ibrahim and Mr. Eric Liang on guitar Arranged by Samwise from Samwise Music Composed by Samwise and Ksatriya Based on an earlier arrangement by Damon Lee, Eric Liang, Samwise and Ksatriya Produced by Samwise Music and Ksatriya
Thank you for your support.

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