copyright 2013, D. Glenn Arthur Jr.
[What's new at this site] Last updated 2013-05-20.

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"Eff the Big C"
(or, "#$%@ Cancer")

Dedicated to cancer victims and survivors, their friends and kin, and oncologists.

I composed this in 2011 while feeling kind of mad-at-the-world about an aunt's breast cancer, a friend's thyroid cancer, and another friend's mother's breast cancer, and thinking about all the other people I knew or had known who'd had cancer. When I started writing it, it was going to be slow, sad, and bitter. But by the time I got it into a shape I thought I could do something with, it had mutated into something defiant.

[PNG image of sheet music]

The title was originally much ruder and blunter, with "Eff the Big C" being an alternate title for folks uncomfortable with the obscenity, but then I saw how many different works already titled "F___ Cancer" turned up in a Google search, and swapped the title and alternate-title.

I composed this on the lower strings of a guitar, so it's meant to sound two octaves lower than the sheet music displayed here (I originally notated it just one octave lower but guitar sounds an octave lower than written), but then I went and made a script that'll produce sheets in whatever octave and clef somebody might find comfortable, with and without tabulature, because I know a lot of people whose instruments don't go that low. I've made a few of those -- the ones I think are most likely to be useful -- available here:

In 2013 I finally got around to doing a quick-and-dirty recording of the tune: Eff_the_Big_C.mp3. Sorry about the tempo glitches -- I first tried playing along to a metronome, then to a MIDI version of the tune, to keep myself in time, but the result sounded plodding and thuddy so I started over without a click track. (I swear it got even more uneven after I'd been working on it for a while, because my computer was having trouble keeping up with the demands of the recording software ...) I especially apologize for the sloppiness of the percussion and mandolin tracks. I ran out of disk space and had to stop polishing it. I'll try again someday when I've got more space to work in.

If anyone cares: I recorded the melody on a 6-string folk guitar with a coil pickup and a dynamic mic at the same time, panning the coil to one side and the microphone to the other; then I doubled the melody on a classical guitar into the mic and stuck that in the middle. Next, electric bass guitar via DI, then high and low noodly mandolin parts -- deliberately faint -- because even though the tune is supposed to be low, it felt like it needed some treble to brighten it up ... again with coil pickup panned one way and a stand mic panned the other way for each part. The percussion is an ashiko with the mic in back, and a mini doumbek with the dynamic mic in front and a PZM (pressure zone mic) gaffed to the wall some distance behind. I'm not satisfied with the way the doumbek sounds, but hey, I put it low in the mix. I was going to do something with hi-hat, kickdrum, and snare, but it was so much easier to bring hand percussion to the computer than to relocate the whole recording rig to the room with the drum kit in it.

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