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Know This
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“Know This” comes from an album of music I produced and co-wrote with Klare Kuolga. The album celebrates her coming to terms with a somewhat dual identity, having been born in the Western Highlands of Papua New Guinea, but raised in a white missionary family in Australia, studying jazz bass and singing. We met through our membership of the Bahá’í Faith and began to make music in 2000. The album, “Bend Down a Little” is the story of being “a child of two tribes” but a “woman of one world”.

At the time I was employed as a composer and engineer in a studio that produced library music but also had a major input into the Christian music scene through the Maranatha, Hillsong and Bredon Hill labels. Most of the artists, writers and session players I was working with were born-again Christians, and as a Bahá’í this led to lots of interesting discussions, occasionally centred on my own heresy, but mostly concerned with finding the best ways to express the spirit and love musically.

Klare and I wanted to include one piece one the album that was directly from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh whom Bahá’ís believe to be the Manifestation of God for the current age, but we did not want to create a traditional prayer, or a “worship song” such as I was working with on a daily basis. I had been involved as an engineer in many attempts to give a contemporary musical flavour to Holy text and often felt that, in an attempt to reach a young audience, the respect for the text was compromised. Klare brought the melody and guitar parts to me as a meditative piece, and I arranged it in a style that I felt respected the source of the words and reflected her PNG and jazz roots.

O son of being.

Love me that I may love thee.

If thou lovest me not

My love can in no wise reach thee

Know this O Servant.

Bahá’u’lláh – from the Hidden Words

The guitar riff through the track is a trademark Klare part, doubled by the bass on which it was conceived. The strings at 1:10 act as a foil to the four on the floor drums, breaking the drive and bringing a contemplative component. At 1:26, a block harmony enters. This was originally derived through a harmoniser plugin set to a minor 7th chord, but I liked the effect so much I wrote out the parts and Klare and I sang the parts. It reminds me of some of the jazz singing groups from the 70s, the Swingle singers etc. Klare rarely sings this high and I really liked the tone of her head voice in these parts. The rest of the band is introduced almost immediately the beat one shakers made of clusters of seed pods, pizzicato strings, the handmade wooded saxillo played by Linsey Pollak and guitar chords from Michael Knopf. Strings return at 2:16 with the piano setting a more joyful and playful tone. I’m not much of a piano player and there was considerable editing of the MIDI parts to get the solo right. I also kept returning to the drum programming in order to get the accents to sit correctly.

At 3:18 the “village girls” make their entry. This style of harmony singing, with a distinctly nasal tone is a feature of the entire album, drawing on singing styles I had heard in Klare’s recordings of women from the Highland villages. There are twelve tracks of her voice in this part. The drums break from the triple feel 6/8 to a straight 2 beat -something I’ve always loved about 6/8 – that ability to subvert time. I remember during the recording process encouraging Klare to keep the lead vocal relaxed and thoughtful throughout, allowing the arrangement to provide a variance in mood. Sonically I wanted to reproduce something of a live concert feel. I had in mind Sting’s Bring on the Night (1986) album, rather bright with an open reverb.

While the piece is something of a stylistic melting pot it fits the concept of the album and suits the aim of an expression of spiritual concept that is joyous, but remains respectful.

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