The truth about “Clang & Chime”

September 7, 2009

So you might have heard by now that I’m about to release this new album…

(…well, maybe you haven’t.  I have, after all, been pretty low key about the whole thing.  ;)

The name of this big new piece of stuff I’m about to put out into the world is “Clang & Chime”.  I’ve gotten a number of different reactions to this name from a number of different people; some who are total strangers; some who are close friends and family members whose opinions I either can’t escape, totally respect, or both.

Most people respond well to it.  Of all the titles I’ve given to things I’ve made, this one has the best “score” coming out of the gate.  It seems to prompt people to ask for more information about it as soon as they hear it.  Friends in marketing tell me that’s a good thing… that it’s the equivalent of a book or magazine having a cool cover, and that more people will be inclined to listen to it because they like the name of the record.

As much as I hope they’re right, I can’t say that it has anything to do with why the record is called what it’s called.  “Clang & Chime” means a quite a few different things to ME… let’s start there before we get to anyone else’s interpretation!

There’s the completely literal sense to start with.  Over the years I’ve spent traveling and performing, I’ve played in just about every situation you can imagine, and wherever I go, I only sound as good as the sound engineer makes me.  The great thing about using an acoustic guitar is that everyone knows what it’s supposed to sound like in the hands of a solo songwriter.  But nobody, professional sound engineers with years of experience included, has a frigging CLUE what I’m up to with a bass in my hands.

Looking back on the past decade, I can count the number of sound engineers who have known innately what I’m going for on one hand.  For the rest of them, brows furrowed and faces frowning as they pushed buttons and twisted dials on their mixing consoles, I started using a descriptive phrase that seemed to help more times than not:  “When you get it right, it should clang and chime”.  This became my mantra for years, and helped define the sound that has helped to define me as an artist.

I like it: “Clang” describes a sound that is abrupt and harsh, but still resonant — “Chime” describes a resonant sound that is more pure and agreeable; and this brings up the idea of Consonance vs. Dissonance.

Clang String

Chime String

Lyrically, these songs deal with recognizing human fallibility — within our relationships, and within ourselves — and with how we reconcile those flaws.  Bringing the idea of resonance a step further:  Eastern spirituality deals with the idea of Chakras, or energy centers in the body that resonate along with certain frequencies, and react badly to other frequencies.  Everything we experience is in some way or another affecting the way our own energy is flowing; consequentially enhancing or disrupting our lives.   Human experience is, in fact, a constant push and pull between these states.

So while my playing may evoke the literal sense of “Clang & Chime”, the lyrics of these songs are meant to evoke the sense of that fallibility as dissonance, and of that reconciliation as consonance.

Call it whatever feels appropriate:  Tension and Release.  Cacophony and Harmony.  Yin and Yang.  Sorrow and Joy.

I call it Clang & Chime.

I hope you’ll spend some time with it as soon as it’s released. :)

(until the stroke of midnight that starts September 14th, you can pre-order the limited special editions of Clang & Chime by going to http://sethhoran.blogspot.com)



  1. Thanks for the great explanation! As a non-practicing buddhist (what my mother calls me) the way you described the relationship between clang & chime and the lyrics actually made sense. A musical cause and effect, or karma, if you will. Uh…OK, maybe not. Definitely looking forward to the new album, got mine on order! Oh, and thanks for all the great music you’ve brought into my life!

  2. I can’t wait to spend some time with it!! Judging from the masters sent out for the production process, I’m sure the fully produced versions will sound FANTASTIC!

    Hope you’ll make it back to Charlotte soon so I can hear them live :)

  3. For every reaction there is an equal and opposite reaction. Unless you are speaking in terms of emotions. Then, we are just sending out what we got and seeing what hits and what, if anything, sticks. Oh, it sounds primitive, for ’tis.

    I call it the “toooot toooot” effect.

  4. Seth says: “Human experience is, in fact, a constant push and pull between these states.”

    Ain’t that the truth! Thanks for continually finding ways to keep the resonance and the dissonance relevant. I can’t wait for the release.

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