Songs That Are Hard To Sing Dan Trueman



release date: November 15, 2019

release date: November 15, 2019

Songs That Are Hard to Sing is an octet composed by Dan Trueman for the JACK Quartet and Sō Percussion. This collaboration of contemporary music heavyweights unites “the nation’s most important quartet,” (New York Times on JACK) with Sō Percussion’s “exhilarating blend of precision and anarchy, rigor and bedlam” (New Yorker).

The project began when composer/fiddler/electronic musician Dan Trueman realized that many of his favorite tunes are, well, hard to sing.

“Many of my favorite songs and tunes are terribly hard to sing,” describes Trueman. “Songs That Are Hard To Sing are pieces inspired by songs and melodies I find mysterious and challenging, but still engage our primal urge to sing."

In this album a bricolage of familiar sounds become ethereal. Piano melodies lilt peculiarly through bitKlavier, a prepared digital piano invented by Trueman that would make John Cage proud that “makes all the notes between the keys become available.” The human voice becomes startling when the untrained voice of a member from Sō Percussion sings for just a few bars in the album’s closing moments. 

“I’ve never worked with a group of string players so attuned to the richness of tuning,” Trueman says about the JACK Quartet, which becomes an extension of Trueman himself playing his beloved Norweigian Hardangar fiddle.

“I am able to cast these ancient tunings out from my fiddle to the quartet, which also dovetails beautifully with the remarkable tuning capabilities of bitKlavier,” he says.

These dexterous sounds came together in a remarkable burst. The total time in-studio was less than 48 hours of playing as if live in a rehearsal room at Princeton University, where Trueman teaches and leads the Princeton Sound Kitchen and Sō Percussion serves as an Performers-in-Residence.

“The truly amazing thing about this recording is how ‘live’ the takes are,” explains Eric Cha-Beach of Sō Percussion.

“The end result is something that you could listen to on the subway, but also put in a super hi-fi system and enjoy all of the details of the space,” says Cha-Beach.

Engineer Matt Poirier served as a mic wizard to capture this pristine ‘live’ take, which required little editing and no overdubbing.

Songs That Are Hard to Sing follows two previous New Amsterdam recordings from TruemanNostalgic Synchronic, with Adam Sliwinski of Sō Percussion, debuted Trueman’s bitKlavier in recording, and Five (and-a-half) Gardens with Sō Percussion. In 2017 The Boston Globe picked Olagon, a cantata written by Trueman for the Chicago chamber ensemble Eighth Blackbird, as a top classical album of the year.

1. Sinking Song
2. Sister Song
3. Summoning Song
4. Seizing Song
5. Sad Song