Winter Term: Creating Music Miles Apart

September 23, 2020

Yvonne Gay

A drawing of two musicians one playing a guitar the other playing a keyboard
Album cover of Conceived Reality. Art by Max Pinelli

Seniors Arthur Welsh and Mark Ligonde had an ambitious goal for Winter Term. The pair planned to release a seven-song album with six different genres and subgenres of music, while residing miles apart. The project would challenge their compositional and production skills, but the end result was even more complex and creative than they imagined.

“As we neared the end of August, we ended up with 12 tracks and even more variation than we had originally planned,” says Welsh. “Along the way, jazz guitar major Gabe Morales ’22 and jazz voice major Georgia Heers ’21 contributed to our album, expanding our community regardless of distance barriers.”

A portrait of a male student
Arthur Welsh ’21. Courtesy of Welsh

Welsh, a resident of Alaska, and Ligonde, a resident of Florida, say they collaborated effectively with Zoom and FaceTime while using Ableton Live 10 to produce, mix, and master all of the tracks on the album. Of course, the audio experience in person would have been favorable. Still, both were able to connect with each other on a similar musical level.

“This forced isolation gave me and Mark the opportunity to be meticulous about each second of every song, which is something a live performance sometimes lacks,” says Welsh. “Overall, there are benefits to both live and studio productions and it has been useful navigating both during our time here at Oberlin. Plus, when we see each other and create in person in the future, this type of remote workflow will ultimately improve our in-person results.”

A male student holding a cello
Mark Ligonde ’21. Courtesy of Ligonde

The album—Conceived Realities—was completed on August 28. It plays on the concept of sonic spaces and works with specific sounds in each track to put listeners in different spaces of thought as the album progresses. “Since every listener will bring their own set of experiences to the music, the overall goal was to create a project in which the listener could put their own narratives within and let their imagination take flight,” explains Welsh.

“With tracks like ‘CPH,’ ‘Letting Go (Pt 3)’ and ‘Thinkin ‘Bout You,’ there are a myriad of stylistic choices that we made to make each track special. Of all the songs, the ones that feature Morales and Heers are among our favorite tracks. Not only was it fun to create production-wise, but they both brought great musicality to the table and helped shape our ideas by their influence.”

Ligonde, a computer science and jazz bass major, continues to study remotely this semester. Welsh, a mathematics and jazz piano major, is studying at Oberlin.

Listen to The Stream of Consciousness (red), from Conceived Reality.

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