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Imogen Heap STUDY OF AN ELECTRONIC MUSICIAN
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Imogen Heap

Feb 23, 2016

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Imogen Heap

Imogen HeapStudy of an Electronic Musician

When most of us think of composers, our minds drift towards men like Bach, Beethoven and Mozart who composed with the traditional instruments of the orchestra. As modern music has evolved and electronics have become a major component in music production, we find composers who choose somewhat different instruments such as toys and even household items. One such composer is Imogen Heap. Her creative and innovative electronic composition is exciting and engaging while still maintaining a connection with her listeners.

Early LifeA native of Essex, England, Heap began experimenting with music as a child. She began with piano, which she still feels is her instrument of choice, but found her voice with electronic music while attending Friends School, a boarding school in Saffron Walden. Heap learned how to record music using an Atari and sequencing software. She abandoned her previous plans to become a classical musician and immersed herself in the electronic genre. She began producing her own music which was completely electronic in nature, allowing her to produce all of the sounds heard within a song. After meeting singer/songwriter Nik Kershaw and working with him to produce four demos, she was signed at 18 years old by Almo Sounds.

iMegaphone

Her fist studio album, iMegaphone, released in 1998 was largely self-produced, although some tracks included collaboration with David Kahne, Dave Stewart and Guy Sigsworth with whom she had previously worked with in a band called Acacia. (Allmusic) Three singles were released from this album and the album saw moderate success, including a film credit. The music was haunting, angsty and moving, while still maintaining the upbeat character of modern electronic music. Changes within Almo Sounds soon left Heap without a recording contract.

Frou Frou

Heap had continued her professional relationship with Guy Sigsworth and they soon collaborated in the project Frou Frou and produced one album entitled Details. The project was an equal collaboration and both artists worked together to produce each song. The resulting music was brighter and dreamier. Compared to her previous work on iMegaphone, Details was true to its title. The attention to detail paid by Heap and Sigsworth created an lush synth-pop landscape. The album was lauded by critics, but did not receive the commercial fame that Heap and Sigsworth were hoping for. The project did become an underground hit, and led to two more movie credits, with the inclusion of Let Go in Zach Braffs Garden State and a version of the Bonnie Tyler hit Holding Out For A Hero in the closing credits of Shrek 2. (Radius)

Speak For Yourself and beyond

After Frou Frou, Heap decided to strike out on her own again and began working on a new project. She used social media to extensively document her progress on the project. Heap funded the project herself by remortgaging her flat and set a deadline of one year in which to complete the project. The final result was her 2005 album Speak for Yourself . Using recordings of not only mundane things like trains and frying pans, but also extensive synthesizer and other instruments she creates a densely layered dreamland of sound with which to back alternately upbeat and melancholy vocals which explore the intricacies of love. One track, Hide and Seek is a completely vocoded song using only Heaps voice for the instrumentation. This track became popular after its appearance on the television show The OC. Soon after, the album was licensed by BMG. Heap has since released another album entitled Ellipse and is currently working on a fourth solo album, Sparks from which she has used 900 sound seeds provided by fans to create the sound for each song. Heap is once again using social media and even crowdsourcing to create a musical style all her own.

Live PerformanceImogen Heap Live at Royal Albert HallHeaps live performances are magical. Being the only performer on stage might seem overwhelming, however Heap creates a musical space that engages and includes her audience. One gets the sense that one is in Heaps own living room as she tells stories and preforms songs, each one different in each performance. On stage with her are her myriad instruments including a MacBook Pro, clear piano filled with fairy lights, mbira and a keytar. (Radius) The author had the good fortune to see Heap perform live on May 29th 2010 at the Warner Theater in Washington DC, during the Ellipse tour. Heap not only engages the audience, but even asks them to become part of the music. During her performance of the song Just for Now, she asked the audience to give input into how they wanted their song to sound, such as tempo and key, then the audience was directed to sing the chorus in a round, recorded the resulting music, and then converted the voices of her audience into the songs melody. This track was simultaneously recorded and made available for sale with the proceeds of each sale going to support charities in the community in which she performed.Imogen Heap may be an eccentric musician, but her talent and ability to convert the mundane into a dreamscape of sound sets her apart from other electronic artists of today.

Listening guideHeadlockfirst song from the albumthird single to be releasedPerformed in a minor chorduses a vibraphone, string bass and mbiraGoodnight and GoThe poetry in the song refers to a love affair that develops into a rather dark and ironically funny stalking situation in contrast to the poppy melodymore traditional pop sound including a guitar solosong featured in the BBC series, Made In ChelseaHide and Seeka vocoded song which is looped through a keyboard, but appears to be a capellavery simple music used to create a picture just as in a madrigalsong has gained much attention and has been covered, sampled and featured in movies and television programs multiple times.

Headlock0:00 Intro Intro starts with vibraphone and vocal followed with string bass. The introduction sets the meter of the song in 4/4.0:17 Verse 1 - The first verse is a monophony, but the vibraphone plays syncopation in intervals to the melody. 0:33 Chorus Voice is used as instrumentation through the chorus. 0:57 Verse 2 - The melody in verse 2 is the same as that for the first verse. 1:13 Chorus The melody for this chorus is the same as for the first chorus, but the instrumentation is fuller. 1:46 Bridge - Music mimes the lyrics Monitoring you, like machines do with machine-like sounds.2:37 Chorus - The chorus repeats once more then fades out somberly on final notes played on the string bass.

Goodnight and Go0:00 Intro The tone of this song is set in a minor chord although the rhythm is upbeat and happy sounding. This song is also written in 4/4.0:16 Verse 1 - The heavy bass line of the first verse is constant with the exception of the last words in each line. For instance trembling in which the notes are in tremolo. 0:47 Chorus The first chorus is bright with a tempo matching the melody but with a definite melancholy sound. 1:15 Second Verse Melody repeats from the first verse and the final few words of each line are again emphasized. Relaxed and reclining is played at a slightly slower tempo. 1:43 Chorus The second chorus uses the same melody as the first. 2:03 Bridge - Polyphony is introduced in the bridge with an additional voice. 2:55 Instrumental Guitar solo is hard edged in comparison to the dreamlike pop melody of the rest of the song, hinting at the singers obsession with her love interest.3:02 Chorus The final chorus uses different notes on the last line as it did in the first two choruses. 3:24 Fadeout

Hide and Seek0:00 Verse 1 Hide and Seek starts without an intro as there is no true musical accompaniment. The contour of each line is ascending with the exception of the word sinking. The time signature is 4/4 and the song is written in major key. 0:37 Verse 2 The melody in this verse is the same as the first, but the use of vocoder becomes heavier in this verse. 0:54 Verse 3 In this verse the melody is similar, but moves with the words, for instance, hold and heavy are emphasized. 1:13 Chorus The chorus and verse melodies differ1:47 Verse 4 There is a break in the singing in this verse that does not appear in the other verses between the words Of this and still life highlighting the word still2:21 Chorus The chorus melodies are similar but not the same. A polyphony is included with the extra line You wont catch me around here and the notes in the line Blood and tears are noticeably higher in pitch. 2:53 Bridge The melody of the bridge is vastly different from the rest of the song. The tempo increases and through the vocoder, Heap transforms her voice from monophony to homophony. 3:24 Verse 5 This verse also changes drastically from the initial verses. Polyphony is introduced here with one voice singing the chorus and another voice repeating the words hide and seek3:57 Fadeout - The final lines of the song fade out with melancholy. An interesting note, the faint sounds of the train in the final moments of the song were from a train that passed the studio during recording

Resourceshttp://www.radiusmusic.co.uk/imogen_heap_twitter_biog_may_2009.pdfhttp://www.allmusic.com/artist/imogen-heap-mn0000094792/biographyhttp://www.imogenheap.com/charity/http://www.onamrecords.com/Almo_Sounds.html#panel-2http://www.imogenheap.com/about/http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/dec09/articles/heap.htmhttp://www.puresongwriters.com/artists/imogen_heap.html#.UlbakVBQHkM