Seaming vast mountains, forests, and seas with soft melodies and organic rhythms, Daniel Jorgensen’s fascination for instrumental music surfaces in his most notable moniker, Carinthia. In addition to his unique and beautiful albums, Daniel composes music for commercials and films. We’re beyond psyched to have him as a part of our team here at Music Box. The following are his thoughtful responses to topics I asked him about.
My writing style is pretty similar across the board for my albums as well as commercial work. Most of the time I write a melody or some sort of chordal movement on either acoustic guitar or piano. I recently acquired a 1920’s Wurlitzer upright piano that I really enjoy writing on – the instrument has a certain feel and tone that is very inspiring to me. Most of the songs on “Fields” began with a simple piano or guitar melody that I would record, and slowly add layers of sound to. The songs were written over a period of three years; ‘From Home to Home’ actually was a song I wrote 4 or so years ago for my “Leaving the Night Behind Us” record; the song was missing something though, so it eventually didn’t make the cut. After re-working a lot of the song, I thought it would be a good fit for “Fields”.
Often times it is the sound of a certain patch the inspires an entire song. Scrolling through patches in my various (soft)synthesizers, I often find tones and sounds that are intriguing and kind of beckon a certain melody or layer. Most of my music, though heavily layered with electronics, contains more organic “lead” instruments, such as guitars and piano. Once this organic foundation of the song is written and recorded, I spend the majority of the creative writing process on shaping synthesized and percussive textures around this foundation. Interestingly enough, drums and percussion is my favorite element of music (I majored in percussion and music education at Bethel University), however, percussion is most often the last puzzle to be added to my songs. I put most pressure on myself with percussion because this is, in my opinion, what makes a potentially great track great, or a potentially great track awful. I’ve heard a lot of music where the first 30 seconds are fantastic, but when the drums kick in, the tone or the drum part rain on the musical parade of that song. My music may be that to some people, but I do want the percussive quality of my songs to enhance what’s already there. On previous albums, I barely used live drums, if at all. My percussion was most often random household objects manipulated into rhythms and beats. There is a lot of that on “Fields” as well, but most of the songs are also layered with live drums, which I think adds a needed human element to this interesting blend electronic/organic genre blend.
As mentioned, I spend a ton of time shaping textures, pads, field recordings, ambiences, etc. Rarely do I simply play a pad or sound and leave as is – I spend hours and hours automating panning, EQ’s, volume, delays, reverbs, etc. I want my music to sound like it is breathing, alive. I like to say my music is “hand-crafted” to this effect. Each instrument and track has a movement and life of its own, but dances with the others in interesting ways.
Recording Set Up
I wish I could say I have a fancy studio or a plethora of nice equipment to work with… In all honestly, my set-up is quite simple and heavily software-based. Ableton Live is my canvas within which I write; it is a program that I have used for years that I have grown quite accustomed to and fluent in. Within Ableton, I use a large collection of creative and mixing plugins. I’m a big fan of the Spectrasonics software, especially Omnisphere. Native Instruments has some really great stuff, including Absynth and the variety of Kontakt instruments. I use many of the Waves plugins for mixing/mastering; FabFilter Pro 2 for EQing is fantastic and responsive; Soundtoys has some really great creative tools for playing around with sounds; and variety of other FX and VSTi’s.
There are several different electric/acoustic guitars that I use, depending on the sound I want. My acoustic guitars and piano sound fantastic through a pair of Audio Technica A4047s, which have a nice warmth and low noise levels. An Access Virus TI is the only hardware synthesizer that I own; this keyboard has a ton of different sound capabilities across a variety of genres and I love how it is set up.
I am a big fan of Keith Kenniff’s work in Helios and Goldmund, as well as his commercial work. I had been a fan of ambient/post-rock music for years, but when I stumbled upon Helios in 2007 I was blown away by the amount of detail and care that he seemed to put into each of his songs, and he just keeps getting better at what he does. Sigur Ross album “Takk” was a massive influence in my development and fascination with post-rock / ambient music. I also really enjoy the guitar textures the band “Hammock” creates – really beautiful stuff. The Appleseed Cast has always been a favorite of mine as well, though their influence in my music is probably more obscure.
Writing album VS scoring picture
Though similar in some ways, the process of writing an album, for me, is more abstract than scoring a film. Both require the ability to somehow embody an emotion and tell a story. “Fields” tells a story in my mind, and the emotion of this story may translate similarly to listeners; however, the emotion in my albums is merely suggested. On the other side of that, the emotion of a film is often already decided in the actual scene. My job then is to enhance and amplify this emotion, and even tell this story with music.
When I write music to picture, I enjoy the challenge of syncing sound to the moving imagery. In doing this, I ask myself some of these questions: what tempo will work well in order for me to match the sequences of the film and complement the mood; what instruments can i use to emphasize what I am seeing; is the music supposed to stand on its own or augment a narration; etc. When I write albums, I don’t necessarily have these guidelines, except for the ones I have in my mind about what I want my music to express in more recondite terms. There is a unique challenge to both that I revel in.