2017-09-06

Recreated: Sade - Cherish The Day

Sade's album Love Deluxe was released in 1992. It features a bunch of mellow tracks including one of my favorites, Cherish the Day. I'm gonna recreate it, meaning every element except for the vocals.

The track was produced by Mike Pela with the band. The official video version is a bit different with some extra overdubs, but I'm going to focus on the album version. Listen to it below.


And here's my recreation:

General stuff

This 80 bpm track is somewhat minimal in its composition and arrangement. It has a programmed drum beat throughout with a static C minor bass riff and only four chords on the synth pads. The arrangement feels electronic especially towards the end with repeating loops but it's contrasted with a loosely phrased guitar and Sade's warm vocals.

Intro

A mellow synth pad plays four one bar length chords: Cm7, Dm7, Fm7 and Gm7. The shape is the same for all chords which brings to mind that this could have been done with sampling a single chord and playing it with different pitches. Or it's a synth patch with the chord built in. Maybe it was composed like that, jamming around with presets or a sample. Notice the A note in Dm7 which adds some excitement as we shift from dorian mode (Dm7/C) to natural minor (Fm7/C).

I don't recognize the original synth/patch so I tried matching the sound with a couple of different layered pads.

Synth pad chords
On top of the chords there's a clean electric guitar line with only two notes, C and D (three if you count the half bends to E♭). These go nicely with the chords, D being a ninth on top of Cm7 and the D to E♭ bends occur on on Fm7, sixth bending to seventh.

There's some reverb on it which makes it more floaty. The rhythm is loose at times and the following transcription is approximate.
The intro guitar lick
I spot some classic sounds in the drum track! There are hihats from the Roland TR-909 with clave and maracas from the TR-808. The clave has a nice long reverb. I don't recognize the kick and snare, but most likely they are from a period drum machine also. I reproduced them with something that sounded similar.
The drum pattern, a combo of 3 different drum machines (most likely)
There's very little variation on the drum loop throughout the track. The claves go on and off periodically and the hihats and maracas are muted during some fills.

As the first verse starts there's a short bass fill and the highs on the drum track are omitted briefly. See later for the bass transcription.

Verse 1

You're ruling the way that I move…
The first verse has just the drums and the pad. There's a drum fill in the middle which substitutes snare for an 808 clap, first hit dry and second with reverb.

At the end there's a subtle hint of the intro guitar riff, maybe just the effect track without the dry signal.

Chorus 1

I cherish the day, I won't go astray…
The chorus (or at least the part I interpret as the chorus) is short, only 4 bars. The chords change to Cm7 - Gm7 - Fm7 - Gm7 for one cycle.

After the four bars there's a verse, or a post-chorus, maybe? I don't know, the song structure is not that traditional. Anyway, during that bit the bass enters.

The bass line is a four bar loop in C minor pentatonic and every now and then there's a jazzy fill played higher up.
The bass line, starting with the fill
Before the next part there's a simple but genius drum fill with a pitched down snare, the normal snare and the reverberated clap on 2nd, 3rd and 4th beats respectively.

Post-chorus/pre-verse and the next verse

This is the same as the intro with the guitar. It sounds like they didn't bother varying the guitar lick and just used the same recording again.

The verse continues with the same stuff, but for the bass there's a break and the jazz fill before the next part.

The "Flute" Solo

The flute patch sounds like an FM synth and I found something that sounded very similar (with some tweaking of course) from the FM7 legacy bank for FM8.

The patch has legato activated portamento which means the pitch will slide between keys if you don't lift the previous key before pressing the next. This is clearly heard on the second phrase.
The flute solo
Melodically the solo clings to the note F which is wise because it works on top of each of the chords. The starting D on Cm7 creates an open and sustained feel. The C♯ before it is a nice ornamental leading tone which makes it sound jazzy.

Chorus 2

We move into the second chorus, but you'll only recognize it by the vocals, since the synth pad chords stay the same and won't play the variation from the first chorus.

Interlude

I'm going to call the next bit the interlude because it's quite different from the rest of the track.

The synth pad takes its only break in this track for 4 bars, then plays a 3½ bar long Gm7 which creates a Cm11 feel because of the bass.

The drums have some reverberated snare hits on 4. Then there's an interesting fill with something that sounds like a time-stretched piece of a drum loop sample. This is very hard to reproduce without knowing what the source sound was but I took a hihat loop and mangled it to something that sounds similar with time stretching, pitch & frequency modulation and EQ. There's a tom fill also, with a tom sound that has some snare/timbale quality to it.

The next 4 bars substitute the normal snare with a lower pitched one, and finish of with a low snare - snare - reverb snare drum fill.

The bass plays the same loop, breaking on the final fill.

An electric guitar with wah-wah effect plays muted chops during the first half (with an subtle delay effect) and a short melody line on C minor pentatonic during the second.
The wah-wah guitar during the interlude

To the last chorus

You show me how deep love can be…
Again, I don't what the next part is since it's only a couple of vocal lines. A very short verse? Pre-chorus? Anyway, it's the basic loops again with a bass fill in the middle.

Then we move on to the last chorus and this time the chords change, again for 4 bars only like in the first chorus.

Outro

For the rest of the track the vocals repeat the main hook from the chorus.

In the outro we get something new and something old. The new thing is a 1 bar loop consisting of a low-pitched crash cymbal on 1 and a muted electric guitar pattern. This combo might be an actual sample, or it's just engineered to sound like one.

The old thing is 3 repeats of a part from the wah-wah guitar lick.

After this it's back to the intro guitar lick and a fade out.

Final words

I like this track. I don't know what's the magic here. It might be the sample-based composing and production combined with nineties electronic aesthetic and the beautiful vocals. While the production might sound a bit dated today it's still sophisticated, smooth and enjoyable.

I'd love to hear your comments and suggestions for next tracks to be recreated.

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