Monday, February 23, 2009

In Session

Hi all! and as always "you too'...(just in case you thought I didn't see you lookin' at the screen)

I had a session the other day worth a mention as it required being able to give options to the music that the writer didn't realize where there. It happens every so often when you are called into a recording as a 'session guy' and there is already a bass line down. Right there, the writer already has that line embedded in his mind but the engineer felt there needed to be more.

Usually you would be called in to do the whole album but they are on a tight budget and could only afford this for one song, so they pick the one they feel is there better tune and go full bore on fixes.

The call went like this; Hey Don can you come into the studio tomorrow we need this tune to be bumped up a few notches. I said, "Well, let see that would be Valentines day, my wife's birthday is also the day after that. If I screw up Valentines day by taking a session and not bein' around, that 'mishap' will spill over into the next days birthday, puttin' the pressure on and if I mess that up (like I did Christmas already) it's gonna be a L-O-N-G year gettin' the "Happy" back in 2009. Soooo I'm gonna have to say, "Let's pick another day! After 34 years of marriage let me get one year right. (and so we scheduled it for later in the week).

And now back to the studio...

I brought my NS/Stick, the engineer said they had a lovely studio Fender Bass that sounds great if we needed it, (we both new the NS would most likely end up on the track and it did.)

I heard the track and the original bass line was nice, did the job but didn't move with the drummer, they weren't in groove sync and it left the track feeling like it was harmonically correct but without 'that spark'.

All the players were wonderfully recorded and fine players. The background vocals were incredible and the tune well crafted. When the writer showed up (I'm 99% of the time 1/2 hour early) usually whoever the session is for is late... and so they were fashionably late as I had started getting familiar with the tune already (no chart was written, not even a chord chart). No worries, I like to 'punch and play'. A lot of the sessions I never hear what I played on the tune top to bottom until the album releases. I record all the verses, chorus's then bridge... grab the last donut then leave lol..... This was a well run session where the writer and producer knew what they wanted once they heard it, and so you're out the door in no time. I like that.

Anyway when the writer came in I said, "I need you to listen to the options, the bass line you have is a "D" note held through 3 different chords. It sounds wonderful however the melody to me suggest different notes and the drums suggest a pocketed rhythm. (in other words, the feel and harmonic tonality is going to be altered changing what you had, a lot! - hang on to your hats kids.)

The chorus has such beautiful moving vocal harmonies that, that held bass note masked their movement. Once I moved along with it, it opened it wide open and let the harmonies breathe.

This is my favorite part (aside from playing), when you see the "Light" go on in someones eyes that says, Wow! That's what I want, that makes a huge difference. (then my mind says, good now find the rest of the budget money to hire me for the rest of the tunes!!)

Anyway, we left a nice impression and off we go. That engineer coined a funny saying that has stuck in my mind for years. Many years ago... we did an Eddie Money album together and yikes was there budget tight, SONY records was squeezing each dollar. There were all sorts of problems and finally they shell out $20,000 dollars to fix things. This engineer shakes his head and says, "There's never enough money to do it right the first time but plenty of money to fix things!" Great saying.

I'm thinking of changing string gauges on the NS for this upcoming Rocket Scientists tour. I'm thinking of bass gauges throughout all 8. I'll grab a dozen of the donut shops finest and head over to SE this week and see what Emmett thinks would work best. Emmett is the greatest thinker, I love to ask him question while I eat a donut and he thinks. Sometimes I get through 2 maybe three donuts if it's a good enough question. I may need a few jelly filled for this one.

(PS, on a side note: On the news I heard Tim Horton donut shop stocks went up! On my last visit to Canada "I did my part!" Maybe I'll get a 'royalty' donut in the mail!


Monday, February 16, 2009

"Good Lunch and meeting"

(I turned the music off as it keeps playing through the other posts - 3/14/09)
"Hit the PAUSE button!value="sameDomain">I just noticed the 'music' comes on "Right away"! "Hey whats all that racket going on up there!!"
I wasn't sure if I could get this player to show up on this blog... turns out "It works!" It's amazing, I have no idea what I'm doing... and yet, (a lot of the times) stuff works!

Buy mp3 At

Here (as you heard) are little snippets of tunes from the "Peering Over Clouds" cd. Sure it's been a while since I put a new cd out... hence I'm working on 4 albums at the moment. Each will be a different style of music, Progressive rock, Smooth Jazz, Meditation and my version of Rock.

Other music coming up will include the Movie theme I'm working on with Lance Matthew which will include a sound track of the music from the film we're scoring. He will also have a new CD release not tied to the movie release, we're almost finished with that.

A new Internet Tv show is going to start production soon and is very funny. They will have me write a theme for that, I don't know how much interior music there will be, but if there's the need... I know lots of notes I could use.

I had a meeting in "Westwood" about it last week with the production company, same restaurant as before (previous blog rant) BUT this time I valet parked... only $5.00 (with tip)... last time I paid $25.00 (with no tip) at the facility across the street and vowed!! "You won't get me next time!" (as I was gonna be late for the meeting if I spent the time looking for parking soooo I bit the bullet and... it bit back).

After this meeting I learned there's FREE parking one block north. (Oh and lunch was VERY good... I had Turkey, mashed potatoes and cranberries... kinda like thanksgiving actually but in February - with fresh berries for dessert). That's good "Listening food". If I don't have to talk a lot, I get stuff that you can shovel in your mouth and chew whilst ya listen! Good meeting, half a season is already written, most of the casting is done. Next, get a 'line producer' to hire the rest of the production people (gaffers, lighting, locations etc...) then shooting will start, the lead is already cast (can't mention him yet) then I'll start writing the theme as the director will start to compile thoughts as to what they would like it to 'sound and feel' like. That's what I'll go by, as I begin composing.

The Guild" which is another TV show I do for the internet (and now signed a nice deal for a third season) is going strong. Click >>> "The Guild" for more news of that show.

All for now, I got sent a session I need to complete, then 'send it back' to Canada. I was asked to solo on a tune... 'and so I did' I hope they like it. We'll now I have to finish it, so they can like it!

Take care, it's rainy here in Southern California, It rarely rains so it's a treat. For those of you in Oregon, it would just be another day. To our back east friends, (My Mom's on the east coast) "Stay warm" and June will one day, come again.