Saturday, April 13, 2013

Believable Fiction - Lyrics, Composition, Gear...The Lowdown

"Believable Fiction" has been one of our most popular tunes to date, racking up hundreds of plays in its first few days! So, it is with extra excitement that I write about this tune, which is the final track on our debut record Within a Reverie.


The lyrics in "Believable Fiction" are interesting in that, while fairly specific in the type of content, they are open to interpretation in terms of degree. In a nutshell, the song is about what we choose to believe in our lives. When I originally wrote the lyrics, I started from the simple idea that a lot of people choose to believe things that simply are not true. Now, I don't want anyone to jump to any conclusions as to what those things are, as it is likely that a consensus on what is real or not real cannot be easily reached (if at all). But, regardless of what any specific self-deceptions are, I wrote the song about my experience witnessing that phenomenon in myself and others.

So what do I mean by interpretation in terms of degree? Well, a lot of songs can be interpreted in many different ways--someone might think that a particular lyric is about a bird whereas another person might think its about a baby, or a date, or a murder, or a bowl of fruit. Some lyrics almost beg  for this ambiguity while others do not  need any sort of interpretation because all the meaning is laid out on the surface level.

As it relates to "Believable Fiction," I think the content of the lyrics is fairly obvious in lines that refer to "conviction" and "rewriting what we'd like" in relation to history (be it personal or an established historical narrative). Some of the more obvious lines are:

In the classroom of life
Where conviction is born
A veil is drawn that blinds us all but
Remains unseen
Until one comes of age 
It is here we conform


Rejection, or incorporation, is only a matter of time...

The reference to youth ("until one comes of age," etc.) was used for two reasons. First, believable fiction is something that is a part of our lives from our earliest days, in both what we are taught as young children and in the way our own imaginations construct the world around us. Second, the transition from youth ("the classroom of life") to adulthood is essentially an ideological battleground where we decide if we should conform to beliefs however big or small that we doubt or have doubted or come to question in our lives.

The wiggle room for interpretation is found in how you want to interpret the magnitude of what constitutes something like a piece of "believable fiction." For example, is it that you choose to believe you and your spouse love each other after the passion has gone? Is it that you keep doing what you do everyday because you believe it will change or believe that it is for a greater purpose? Or is it something world-shaping like revisionist history? Is it a "white lie" or a Watergate scandal? Where is the truth, the non-fiction of our lives, to be found among all of this?

I suppose as the song developed my attention tended to gravitate toward the larger meaning, found in the high-consequence lines like:

Behind transparent walls                (the limitations setup by belief in falsehoods)
Within the fight of our lives             (how these decisions delimit the potential of our lives)
Believable fiction                            (the variable that is causing existential trauma)

"Believable Fiction" is one of my favorite compositions. It truly takes advantage of Within a Reverie's 3 guitar + bass makeup. Dynamics are a huge part of this song, and it is something we tried to maintain throughout the mixing process. The third guitar sneaks in during the first chorus, and continues through until the end of the track.

One of the most striking aspects of this track is the bass-and-drum-driven rhythm of the verses. It not only makes the verses and pre-choruses groove, but it adds a nice fluid contrast to the driving, wall-of-sound choruses that rely as much on the melodic coloring of the two leads as they do those beefy power chords and undulating bass lines.

Much like the solo section in "Romance, Meet Real" (around 4:00 - 4:27) and the leads in "A Blind Beginning" (around 2:49 - 3:45), the interlude in "Believable Fiction" (1:30 - 2:35) has two lead guitars working in counterpoint to provide a denser musical experience. Weaving in and out from one another, I tried to create a melodic passage that was equally grand and pensive--like being lost in a wonderful idea (be it practical or not).

While I am happy with the outcome compositionally, I have to admit to a bit of disappointment in terms of the lead guitar tone there. I originally used a warm tone deliberately to get the pensive effect I was going for, but in the end, I think a more brazen, hot tone would have befitted the song a bit more.

Lastly, I think that "Believable Fiction" is one of those Within a Reverie tracks that displays the potential that is left in terms of new sounds with the same old ingredients. It annoys me to no end when people say that it is no longer possible to write music that is truly new. It certainly may seem that way when what most people hear is a radio-defined cut of the music world. But for just having a few guitars, a bass, some vocals, and drums, I think that "Believable Fiction" is a nice little gem that proves there is still lots of originality to be explored--and this is despite the fact that it is still largely a verse/chorus song!

Fun Facts for Musicians and Audiophiles:

-Key: E minor

-85 bpm

-Listen for the third guitar filling in the rhythm during the first chorus and solo sections, and then how it beefs up the second verse and second pre-chorus with it's lower, gritty harmonies.

-Once again, I want to say that Andy's drum playing really shines through here. He is such an asset to this recording, and his seemless shifting between verse grooves, crushing choruses, the double-time rock feel in the interlude, and odd time signatures in the pre-choruses is a testament to his talent. Once again drummers, twirl your sticks for Andy!

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