Tuesday, 18 October 2011

The Art of Improvisation

Hey Folks,

When we go in to the studio, we like to improvise a little.  Often is it something done to get the creative juices going, to get “in the zone”, or really in the hopes of creating some magic.  Here is a song that we recorded in the studio that we believe to be magic.  At least evidence that fairies were in the studio and dropped pixie dust on us.

Everything you hear is improvised: the lyrics, the progressions, the bridge, the solo (obviously).  We have since tried to recreate the magic of the song and it has never worked.  We will most definitely go back in the studio and redo parts and share that with you as we increase the “kick ass” factor of this song.  But first, it was important you get an example of the rawness.

Allow me to take you through the song with a little commentary.  First, go to the song here:


Start Song:

0:00 – The songs starts with Erik soundchecking his drums.  With the mics already ignited, I just decided to play around with his beat.  Just following the beat and embarrassingly find myself scatting to an old Kid N Play song.  For this, I apologize.  Not because it’s Kid N Play, but because I forgot the words.

0:17 – Erik recognizes that I am entering a zone and obliges with a welcoming drum roll.  I instinctively start singing gibberish taking my vocal chords on a little journey.   Still looking for the theme and flow at this point though.

0:45 – David Ross recognizes that a song is about to be born and quickly finishes tuning his guitar and instantly adds a riff to what is slowly evolving to be “something”.

0:58 – with Dave’s new guitar riff, I am inspired to start a song that will have me half singing as one dude and have talking as another dude.  Still unsure what direction the song will go in though.

1:15 – first evidence of spontaneity as we go through a well felt chord change.  The theme is starting to unravel a little bit and Dave, Erik and I are feeling it.  Can’t remember where Gary is at this point.  Most likely on his back stretching, crying that he can’t be involved.
(L - R) Steve, Dave, Erik
1:26 – Friend, Matt Sheflin joined us in the studio and without even really knowing if he has a sister, I took the opportunity to let him know what I thought would happen if she was there.

1:32 – song’s “2nd verse” kicks in and the emotion picks up as improvised lyrics start to kick ass specifically at 1:45.

1:59 – Public Service Announcement

2:00 – JD, studio engineer of 21:05 Studio recognizes that the song requires a bass so he gets off his “ENGINEER CHAIR” and picks up the bass guitar.  JD rarely ever behaves in such a manner and at 2:09 we are glad he does.
JD @ 21:05 Studios (KL, Malaysia)
2:30 – a fun little run of words that ends with the undeniable sentence “I am just a Steve”.

2:49 – first real evidence of the theme and feeling of the song.  From here, it just becomes more evident.

3:15 – first use of “bad” word.  Had to happen eventually in a freestyle rhyme.  Nevermind that the song is 6 minutes long.  Impressive.  This will not be the last time a bad word is used.  At least a different bad word is used.  But philosophically...what’s bad?

3:27 – This is the part where there should have been an epic, soaring guitar solo.  And there will be. However, as Erik’s drumming foreshadowed what could have been the greatest moment in improvised rock history, what you are given is a the musical equivalent of two teenagers in a moment of sexual uncertainty and sweaty palms in the back of a El Camino.

3:45 – Now that that is finished, the song continues it’s “Act 3” with a fictional account of my family circle and a dream that concludes with an indecipherable line at 4:06.

4:25 – The Message

4:42 - The beginning of what is no doubt the greatest rhyming couplet in the history of improvised studio rock and roll.  You’re welcome.

4:58 – The introduction of the 2nd “bad word”.  It then gets repeated.  Sorry?

5:22 – Song’s Outro.  That’s the thing with improvised jam.  When do you stop when no one wants to stop?

5:40 – The obligatory talking in to the microphone with self-satisfying pats on the back.

5:45 – David still figuring out what went wrong with his solo.  For the record, he’s a kick ass guitar player that would make your grandmother weep for joy.

Please share.

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