PATHWAYS’ Guitarist Wrote A Freaking 42-Piece Orchestral Overture… Of Shred

The ties that bind metal and symphonic music should be obvious to any voracious reader of this website. So we are excited to premiere a 42-piece orchestral work by Pathways guitarist Jon Rose entitled “Symphonic Poem (Overture),” which is dropping next year via Tragic Hero Records.

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Check out the piece below, along with a guest op-ed from Jon about the writing, recording, and performing of the music:

Purpose

I had the idea to write a symphonic piece about 8 months ago. The idea of course stemmed from a dream of mine – which was to write a symphony and also play it with an orchestra. I’ve always been classically influenced and have drawn a huge amount of inspiration from the great composers of the classical era. When I attended Musicians Institute, I remember taking an elective course on classical composition and was blown away.

Our last EP, “Dies Irae” (Tragic Hero Records) had roots derived from Mozart’s “Requiem” and we were intrigued by the meaning and composition of his final masterpiece. At this time, we were branching into the medium of blending the progressive metalcore sound with the classical elements that we loved. After the release of the EP, I began writing our very first full-length album. I realized that this album had to be definitive and needed to fully establish our “Pathways sound.” It just felt like a natural progression for this (symphony) to happen. So, the very first song I wrote for the album was “Symphonic Poem (Overture).” The great thing about this piece is that every single track on the album will reference a different melody from the actual symphony. The album will be released through Tragic Hero Records in 2018.

Process

The actual melodies of the symphonic poem only took me 2 days to write, but the finalization/form took almost 3 months. It was both invigorating and exhausting at the same time. I honestly had to do so much research. It didn’t take me long to realize that I wanted to write a symphonic poem (or tone poem) rather than an actual symphony.

True symphonic form has the four movements – Fast, slow, moderately fast, finale (Allegro, adagio, scherzo, allegro), but the symphonic poem doesn’t necessarily follow the traditional form and is usually shorter in length. This gave me more freedom to express my musical thoughts in a way that came more natural. I had another paradigm shift when I realized the difference between a composer and an orchestrator. Basically, the composer will write the melodies, and the orchestrator assigns the melodies to the proper instruments and helps make the parts playable. I worked with my friend Denis Surov with the orchestration and composition of the piece.

The poem was written to tell an audio-visual story. I want listeners to see colors, art, scenery and whatever organically comes to mind while listening to the piece. A majority of the symphonic poem was written in D minor; however, there are multiple key/mode/time signature/tempo changes throughout. I didn’t want to be confined to any one scale or key since I had more of a story to tell. The original piece was written without any rock instruments (guitars, bass, drums), but when we got word that we would be playing with an actual symphony, it was a no-brainer that we had to spice it up with our playing. I prefer the orchestral-only version because it’s how the piece was originally intended to be heard, but I still really enjoy the band version as well. We also wanted to appeal to the fans by doing this as well.

Working with the Orchestra

We got so lucky with the Space Coast Symphony Orchestra. They heard what we wanted to do and helped us bring the vision to life! I worked closely with the artistic director and conductor, Aaron Collins to make sure the music was playable in a live setting. We met up at the concert hall, brought our film crew from Afflux Studios with us, rocked out for 15 minutes, then left. Was literally that seamless. They film crew used two Red Epic cameras to shoot us, to make sure we got the most out of the rare moment of us playing with a symphony. The orchestra was super helpful and the experience alone was insane.

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