David M. Rodgers – Songs For A Generation (2017)
1. Sivan (Musicians: Jeff Coffin, David Williford, Ryan Middagh, Jose Sibaja, Jeremy Wilson, David Rodgers, Patrick Atwater, Derrek Phillips, Matt Lammers, Eva Dove, Jebat Kee, Fanny Spangaro)
2. Croton (Musicians: David Rodgers, Derrek Phillips)
3. Hokku (Musicians: Matt Lammers, Eva Dove, Jebat Kee, Fanny Spangaro)
4. Haiku (Musicians: David Williford, David Rodgers, Patrick Atwater, Derrek Phillips)
5. Banff (Musicians: Jose Sibaja, Jeremy Wilson, David Rodgers, Patrick Atwater,
Derrek Phillips, Matt Lammers, Eva Dove, Jebat Kee, Fanny Spangaro)
6. op.16 no.4/Eulogy (Scriabin/Rodgers) (Musicians: Jose Sibaja, David Rodgers,
Patrick Atwater, Derrek Phillips)
7. Awakening (Musicians: David Williford, David Rodgers, Patrick Atwater, Derrek
8. Falling (Musicians: Jose Sibaja, Jeremy Wilson, David Rodgers, Patrick Atwater,
Derrek Phillips, Matt Lammers, Eva Dove, Jebat Kee, Fanny Spangaro)
9. Rising (Musicians: David Williford, Ryan Middagh, Jose Sibaja, Jeremy Wilson,
David Rodgers, Patrick Atwater, Derrek Phillips)
10. Johnny (Musicians: David Rodgers, Patrick Atwater, Derrek Phillips)
11. Peacifiyer (Musicians: David Williford, David Rodgers, Patrick Atwater, Derrek
Phillips, Matt Lammers, Eva Dove, Jebat Kee, Fanny Spangaro)
12. Alone Time/op. 10 no. 3 (Rodgers/Chopin) (David Rodgers – solo piano)
Photography by Susan E. Urmy
Graphic Design by Colby Graham
Recorded by Brendan Harkin at Wildwood Recording on February 11-12, 2017 | Franklin, TN
Recorded and mixed by Andy Bradley at Wire Road Studios in March 2017 | Houston, TX
Mixed by Lij Shaw & Sean De León at The Toy Box Studio in March 2017 | Nashville, TN
Mastered by Greg Calbi at Sterling Sound in March 2017 | New York, NY
Produced by David M Rodgers 2017
All music composed & arranged by David Rodgers unless otherwise notated
The music on this album is conceived very consciously from beginning to end. After all, I believe in composition on both the micro and macro levels. Thus, just as the pieces on this record are conceived compositionally, this record is also conceived compositionally. In other words, you can think of “Songs For A Generation” as a piece of music, of art, in and of itself, as if it were a singular entity. Understanding this principle will hopefully allow you some insight when listening from beginning to end, as I originally intended the listener to do. (D.R.)
A Brief Background
My debut album, “Songs For A Generation,” is the culmination of a nearly 2-year long project, seeking to understand music and the world around me as a fluid medium of artistic expression. As this project began to take shape in the form of original compositions, I began to notice the beautiful parallels between conceptions of music and the human experience of life. The most central of these ideas can be summarized twofold:
1) the concept of genre in music in relation to other constructed barriers we both build and also live within
2) the concept of living in and fully experiencing each moment in relation to improvisation both in musical expression and also in everyday life
“Generation” is an interesting word with mainly two definitions. Webster’s Dictionary gives us the following:
- all of the people born and living at about the same time, regarded collectively.
- the production of something.
Thus, you can understand the phrase “Songs For A Generation” in multiple ways and in perhaps even a third way as well by synthesizing both definitions. For me, this project was about taking influences I grew up with – from people, places, music, cultures, etc. – and creating something with all of that in order to give that creation back to my “generation.” It all comes full circle.
I think music, in its essence, is the sonic representation of experiences. For me, the greatest challenge in writing music lies in the paradox of removing myself from the process by delving into the truth of the experience. It’s not about me, it’s about the music.
I conceptualize music as an infinite sphere expanding in all directions. All of the music that has ever been conceived or will ever be conceived exists within this sphere. The same is true for ideas – music is simply a specific form or representation or extension of an idea or ideas.
A Final Thought
The greatest struggle for me is simply not being true to my authentic self. That is, to say, the greatest struggle for me is to be someone I’m not or do something I don’t believe in. Conversely, the greatest joy for me is being able to be and do what I believe is right and just – someone and something that inspires others. The goal for me, then, is to find that spiritual place that is so perfect in its essence that the energy I give is the energy I receive, such that there is no beginning and no end. I’ve found that place in the infinite sphere that is music, and I hope you will join me. Thank you for listening.
about the tunes:
1. Sivan – 8:20
I initially conceived “Sivan” as a big band chart. The music paints the picture of a beautiful spirit whose existence is intricately woven into nature. The interaction between human and nature is fascinating to me. It’s an intersection point of paradoxes: ego versus lack of ego; the illusion of freedom versus foundational structure; wants versus necessity. I wrote these paradoxes into the music with combinations of structured and free elements with the intention of allowing that interplay to guide the direction of the music.
2. Croton – 5:31
I had the chance to spend some time up in Croton-on-Hudson in the summer of 2016. I took a train up from the city and remember being struck by just how beautiful the Hudson river looked against the setting sun. When I was up in Croton, I stayed with my friend Jack and his dog, Cody. Cody is the smartest dog I’ve ever met, always plotting, scheming, and figuring things out. I remember that the only way Cody would settle down was when I played the little upright piano at Jack’s house. I composed this melody there at that piano in the serenity of Croton – this area away from the city of New York that exists like a jewel.
3. Hokku – 2:36
The word, “hokku,” literally means “starting verse.” This short string quartet provides all the thematic material for the following track, “Haiku.” When I was putting this project together, I was inspired to write something for my friends (the string quartet) at Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music where I recorded them. The concept of “genre” has never made sense to me from a creative standpoint, and so when I put Hokku and Haiku together, the connective tissue was about musical lines and ideas.
4. Haiku – 7:16
I first began this piece as part of an assignment from my jazz piano teacher, Bruce Dudley. We were discussing musical forms, and he suggested I write a musical haiku. At the time, I had been experimenting with the concept of “undertones” as explained to me by Vijay Iyer. (The concept of undertones is, generally, choosing a bass note for an existing melody based on what partial of the overtone scale that bass note would contextualize that melody note as.) As a result, the opening piano figure has a sense of hollowness and a great deal of sonic space. The main melody here is developed through the energy of solos and the energy and evolution of the groove throughout. At the end, though the notes of the melody have remained constant, the contextualization within a completely new groove gives it a new, reflective life.
5. Banff – 6:57
I had the chance to attend the Banff Center’s International Workshop for Jazz & Creative Music in August of 2016. The environment in Banff and the workshop was nothing short of inspiring and life changing. The openness and creativity of the other musicians and artists in residency at Banff reframed my own frame of reference of what was and is possible. The purity and serenity of the Canadian Rocky Mountains allowed me a creative space that I’d never fully experienced before. This piece is an ode to those three weeks.
6. op. 16 no. 4/Eulogy (Scriabin/Rodgers) – 2:59
I originally conceived this piece as a second movement for a three-movement suite I wrote in 2015. However, when considering the material for this recording project, the emotional depth of this piece set it apart from any other piece on the record. The full title for this piece is “Eulogy for a Lost Love.” I remember writing the material for this piece in one sitting, in tears, at a keyboard. Pairing it with Scriabin’s Prelude op. 16 no. 4 was a musical decision that felt too inevitable to overlook.
7. Awakening – 9:41
The next three pieces are part of a suite that I initially titled, the “Songs For A Generation Suite.” In a lot of ways, these three movements were the musical kernel for this entire project. As the first movement, “Awakening” tells the story of coming to grips with reality, emerging from a negative situation, and making an honest attempt at self-betterment.
8. Falling – 3:31
Within any journey, there are inevitable setbacks. For any forward progress, you will always have to account for the moments of failure. “Falling” tells this part of the story. The melody is iterated about three times rising each time. The intensity builds until it reaches a breaking point, just as in any struggle there is a breaking point of self-realization.
9. Rising – 8:05
“Rising” is the final movement of this three-part suite. In a lot of ways, it parallels “Awakening,” both musically and metaphorically. It contains a similar musical kernel, but the unrelenting ostinato sets it apart from the more sectionalized and unpredictable writing in “Awakening.” “Rising” is about having lived and experienced success and failure, realizing that neither one should be definitive of where you are or where you are going, and that anything is possible with unrelenting work and drive.
10. Johnny – 6:36
There are people in my life whom I love above anything else. One of these individuals is my younger brother, John. When we were younger, people would call him Johnny, and when I was writing this piece, I drew from the innocence and beauty of those times we spent together as little kids growing up in Southern California. We spent so much time together, playing baseball or basketball outside, digging out rivers in our backyard to race little leaf-boats we had made, catching lizards or grasshoppers, and exploring life together. This piece is for those moments and for him.
11. Peacifiyer (Piece of Iyer) – 10:30
During my time at the Banff Center’s International Workshop in Jazz & Creative Music, I had the wonderful opportunity of working closely with Vijay Iyer. He showed me a clave in the time signature, 20/16, that can be understood in 5/4 (with each pulse being standard 16th-notes) or in 4/4 (with each pulse being quintuplets). This concept spawned an entire piece that tells the story of finding inner peace. It’s not always intuitive, but discovering a place of peace and serenity allows us the ability to understand ourselves and our intentions in the closest possible proximity to objectivity. Vijay, in his expertise, wisdom, and generosity of spirit, enabled me to find this musical peace.
12. Alone Time/op. 10 no. 3 (Rodgers/Chopin) – 3:42
There is a significant difference between being lonely and being alone. For me, I value my alone time as a time to create, discover, reflect, and rest. This piece represents a spiritual place that will always exist for me – a place of safety, beauty, and refuge.
Thank You Note
Thank you for your generosity in support for my debut album, Songs For A Generation. It’s amazing for me to reflect on this process and realize that 81 people – some friends, some family, some complete strangers – came together to make this dream a reality on Kickstarter. This is just the beginning of something immensely special, and I’m both humbled and also thrilled that you believed in this dream from the very beginning with me.
This project has involved so many world-class musicians, artists, and creators whom I owe my deepest gratitude. Thank you Jeff Coffin, David Williford, Ryan Middagh, Jose Sibaja, Jeremy Wilson, Patrick Atwater, and Derrek Phillips for your incredible musicianship, openness, and creativity. Thank you to Zack Eagles for your time and creativity in filming and creating amazing videos for each track on this album. Thank you to Brendan Harkin, Andy Bradley, Lij Shaw, Sean De León, & Greg Calbi for your professionalism and skill in recording, mixing, and mastering this music. Lastly, thank you to Colby Graham for your incredible artistic insight in designing the album artwork, for working with me, and for facilitating and help launch this entire project.
From the very beginning, I knew that this was going to be something special, but I had no idea that it would grow to be something as beautiful as it’s become. Not only has the audio for every song been recorded, but I also had a team of videographers come in to document the entire recording process. What we have now is an entire project library of 12 original compositions with accompanying music videos that have been and will continue to be released regularly over the next three months across YouTube and Facebook leading up to the actual album release date.
Songs For A Generation has involved dozens of musicians, engineers, videographers, photographers, friends, and family members, and I couldn’t be more excited to share what we’ve all created with you.
Know that your contribution made this all possible. Know that you have been as much of an integral part of the entire creative process as everyone else. And lastly, know that Songs For A Generation is my way of saying, quite simply, thank you for being part of this.
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