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Music Collaborators Update Dwight School Song


Music Collaborators Update Dwight School Song
Erin Piemontesi

A Q & A with Harmony Elise Jones and Noah Hanssens

October 3, 2023

Dwight Global Online School former classmates Harmony Elise Jones '24, a senior living in California, and alumnus Noah Hanssens '23, who currently lives in Tennessee, are music collaborators who have created an updated version of the original Dwight School song, which was recorded in 2013.

The two musicians both have sparks in acting, singing, music composition, and production. In this Q & A they provide details about their creative process and the story behind the new Dwight School song.  

Read on for a brief interview with the two musicians.

How did the new song come about? 

Harmony: Well, first, I was presented with the opportunity to perform the school song by Dr. Anthea Lake. I was so honored and excited. I love doing things for my community, so to have my spark (aside from acting) be my contribution felt extremely rewarding and I appreciate the fact that I was thought of for this. That being said, I didn’t want to just scrap together a normal attempt at this wonderful task.

I thought that the existing school song was super cool and fun, and the process they underwent to actually make the song seemed really fun as well. The school also worked with producer Mikkel Eriksen of Stargate, and that fact really wrapped the present for me. However, seeing as it was made in 2013, I felt It could use a little bit of an update to the times. Music is a great passion of mine and any opportunity to interact with it gives me such a rush, it also helps to build who I am as I learn through music.

Arrangements, and transitioning a pre-composed song into a new version of itself is one of the most entrancing things in music for me. I love when artists rework their songs because it’s a different time in their lives, or rework someone else’s song to make their own. You’ll never get the same arrangement twice. No matter how similar, artists have their differences from each other, and nothing is the same in different times and spaces. So instantaneously, and I say that literally, I was pulled to composing my arrangement of the school song. 

Noah: Harmony had expressed to me the opportunity she had to create her own rendition of the Dwight school song. She wanted to make the backing track more suited to her than what the original offered, and I was excited to be a part of it.

I created the instrumental, largely by recording myself playing guitar, programming drums, and layering some pads to fill in frequencies. I was on a call with Harmony throughout the entire process so I could get her input on the new elements as I added them. We first tried to use the same chord progression as the original song, but slightly more harmonically complex. In the end, we decided on a different progression that was more loosely inspired.

How was the song produced? 

Harmony: I love producing, however I’m not the most proficient in actually touching Digital Audio Workspaces, and I have more complex melodies and instrumental ideas in my head than my hands can actually play. Noah, on the other hand, is quite brilliant in all of that. As the artist of this arrangement, I brought a vision to Noah, and he brought his. It was such a collaborative process and we had so much fun with it. Our ideas definitely matched up in theme. We share music all the time, so naturally, we have appreciation for similar sounds. I had things I specifically wanted to change and arrange, and Noah was amazing in bringing it to life. 

Noah and I spent the better half of about six hours on this song. Given our time constraints and a will to make it the best we could, we spent a whole day on the phone acutely focused. Upon finishing the song, I spent my own time practicing to sing for the recording that was presented at the Dwight Global opening ceremony.

Noah: Harmony and I first met in person at Dwight Global’s orientation in my sophomore year, and we had a few classes together. Having that sense of community and friendship before working together was a benefit, for sure.  I taught myself how to produce music online, and everything for this update was made from scratch. The lyrics are the same, but the melody is different from the original song, so it is mostly new in terms of the music. Although I came up with the chord progression and voicings, Harmony was responsible for many of the embellishments heard around the track. Without her input, the track would have come out sounding completely different.

What is your music background?

Harmony: Both sides of my family are into music, and drawn to it. As a kid, I liked singing, and it was natural to sing all day. I continued having fun with singing every year. My main spark is acting and I love singing and have aspirations to work with both sparks.

My family and I live in California. We moved three years ago from Chicago, where I was in a private school, and I started Dwight Global in 9th grade. It was during Covid, and it was an easy transition because Dwight Global had online learning down pat. At Dwight Global, I am also part of the Black Student Union and the Yearbook. After graduation, I hope to enter a conservatory to study acting and singing next year. 

Noah: I graduated from Dwight Global in May of last year, after three years with the school, starting my sophomore year. Most of my life was spent in Connecticut where I was born, and then South Florida, from Ft. Lauderdale to Coconut Grove and Miami. My spark was very much grounded in music the entire time I was in high school. I currently attend Tallahassee Community College, with plans to transfer to Florida State University in the coming semesters. I study political science and computer science and play music in my free time. 

Harmony and Noah’s version of the Dwight School Song can be viewed here, a performance that was part of the 2023 Opening Day Ceremony at Dwight Global. 

by Caroline Crosson Gilpin