Shimoon composes multitrack, reunites friends during quarantine

Tiffany Soe

Christopher Shimoon (11) sat back in his chair and let out a big sigh of relief. It was a Friday afternoon, and he had just finished his last music writing session of the week. Shimoon then pressed the “send” button. The group music project had begun, April 3.

When school suddenly closed, Shimoon was stuck at home with no way to play music with his friends. Westview Gold didn’t have plans yet for working through quarantine, but Shimoon wanted a way to be able to continue playing music with people. 

He and his friends decided to put together a compilation of several different tracks, so on March 27, Shimoon posted on Instagram, asking his followers if anyone who was in band wanted to join in on the big project.

“My overall goal was to have fun and keep all the band kids playing and keep the spirit of the band, even though we’re all stuck at home,” Shimoon said.

Shimoon received 30 to 35 responses from both Westview and Mt. Carmel students that day. He selected around 20 hit songs from the past 15 years, and then had the group vote down his selection to “Fireflies” by Owl City, “Viva la Vida” by Coldplay, “Havana” by Camila Cabello, and “Counting Stars” by OneRepublic to be included in the final multitrack. 

On March 28 Shimoon sat down and began listening and composing the songs, spending about 100 hours of listening and writing each instrumental part in a span of a week. He said he had trouble composing some parts, as he mainly composed the songs by ear because of the diversity of the instruments.

“[‘Fireflies’ especially] had kind of a hard woodwind passage in the beginning,” Shimoon said. “I was having trouble putting it all together, so I looked at some other scores and changed the key up a little bit and used my own interpretation of each score to compose it to the end point.”

Shimoon had to listen and compose parts for 16 different instruments, including less popular instruments such as the contrabassoon, E flat clarinet, and viola, so choosing to write by ear was easier and quicker for him, since he can decipher pitch based on fixed notes, or the notes surrounding that pitch.

When he finished composing, Shimoon sent everyone their designated parts based on their instrument and gave them guidelines on recording their videos. They were required to record a video of them playing with headphones or earbuds to listen to the metronome, so everyone would be playing in sync. He received almost everyone’s parts by the end of May. However, Shimoon said he struggled to finish putting together the multitrack.

“I finished composing and getting people’s videos right around the peak of AP testing season,” he said. “[But] people would DM me saying that they really wanted to record, but they had to study for their AP tests, so they ultimately couldn’t.”

Shimoon said he was understanding of their situations, but he continued on anyway, since he had enough people record. Shimoon began to work on the audio using Logic Pro X, an Apple audio workstation. Piecing together and editing everyone’s individual recording took him a total of 83 hours.

By the beginning of August, Shimoon had begun to work on video editing in Final Cut Pro. He arranged a collage of everyone’s videos together on one screen. But he experienced more problems, as his computer wasn’t strong enough.

“One time I got about five minutes through video editing but my computer [crashed],” Shimoon said. “It took 30 minutes to process the video after each edit.”

After publishing the finished video on YouTube Sept. 14, Shimoon found that putting the multitrack together was a fun experience, and he is thinking about starting another musical project with the same group.

“I don’t know if I see myself doing music as a career, but definitely as a hobby,” Shimoon said. “I’d always love to put together these multitracks because it’s so much fun, as I’m having a good time musically connecting with friends.”

Hannah Lee (12), who had a big solo part in the multitrack, said she was impressed to see the difficulties of audio engineering, as she was there to see Shimoon edit on FaceTime calls.

“It was so cool to see a friend work so hard and be passionate about music composition,” Lee said. “I had fun recording my own part but to see so many students and close friends putting in the effort for the final result was unreal. I would definitely participate in another multitrack if I were offered a part.”