merriam-webster has several definitions for the word. the first is “to stretch out, or extend.” another definition is to “make an impression on; to communicate with.”

when it comes to music, particularly jazz, both meanings are at the heart of creative expression.

if you’ve ever watched a documentary on jazz,or seen a group of classic jazz players (or perhaps blues or other musicians, it’s just more common in jazz) and listened closely to the stage chatter, you’ve probably heard guys calling out to the soloist, “reach!”, as he/she preformed. what they’re doing is encouraging their band mates to push themselves as a musician, and artist, to aspire to greater heights – such as playing in the upper range of their instrument, or to play with greater virtuosity or to play something new and different. when the chemistry is right, and the right bond is forged there is an appreciation and joy that comes from a shared sense of accomplishment among some players that doesn’t come as easily or often as it should. the feeling that when one of us does good, we all do good – that a rising tide lifts all boats.that’s what those musicians are sharing with each other.

the thing is, it’s not just a few musicians that can share in this. it’s really open to everyone and it goes far beyond the boundaries of music. if you’ve got friends or loved ones trying to do something new, encourage them. inspire them to “reach.” help to support and lift them up, and in turn lift yourself up, because truly, and especially in a collaborative effort, a rising tide does lift all boats.


in the woodshed

been working on lots of new material and spending a lot of time working on my chops. lately, i’ve been working through various jazz standards and old faves from “the real book”, working on chord comping (2 or 3 note voicings FTW!), and broadening my melodic horizons. to that last point, for all the musicians in the audience, i’d heartily recommend “the thesaurus of scales and melodic patterns” by nicolas slonimsky. it’s absolutely loaded with short and effective melodic ideas/riffs that are easy to get in your head and under your fingers. absolutely worth checking out!

adventures in mixing!

two posts in one day! impossible, you say!

that can only mean one thing…

i’m nearing completion on another round of awesome new aural madness!! or, you know, some new music ūüėČ

yep, finishing up some new tunes this week. should be available very soon. i took a different approach this time around, focusing more on just fast, short, punchy tunes that will make excellent music¬† for driving or video game soundtracksthe kind of stuff that makes you want to hop your car and tear down the local highway. once you hear it, you’ll see what i mean.

So, where was I?

ok so last time i left off with having a basic idea -chords, melody, rhythm, etc.

now were to go from there?

for me, it’s usually time to lay down some basic drum beats play a little bass guitar.¬† because it’s just me making all the music, i have to wear all the “hats” in my one man band.¬† and the first hat i put on is the drummer hat.¬† while i do play a little drums, i don’t actually¬† own a drum kit (yet!)¬† so i use one of the myriad of drum synth programs out there to help me get the job done.¬† i load up the synth in my digital workstation of choice (cakewalk sonar) and go tune my bass.

in tune and ready to go, i then start playing around w/the chords or melody or whatever i started out with, recording them all and seeing what i like best (BTW, always record any idea snippets you may have!¬† don’t just wait till you’ve got a finished product in your head!).¬† once i’ve settled on a basic progression and bass line that works, i start listening to different beats, trying to find the one that works best w/that set of ideas.¬† once i’ve got that, it’s time to get down to business.

i load the drum beats that work best into a track of their own and tweak the hits, feel, tempo as needed.  then i start laying down the bass.

an aside – for years i’ve used a sansamp for tracking bass guitar and scratch/temporary tracks for lead guitar, but recently i’ve started using a digital amp emulator for bass.¬† it’s fast and i can make adjustments to the sound on the fly without ever needing to re-record things.¬† i’ve tried digital for lead guitar and while i do like the sound, the feel just isn’t there for me.¬† for me and my hands the digital simulations seem to work best for cleaner tones, like bass guitar and clean rhythm guitar.

back to it then… i spend a lot of time making sure the drums and bass sound good together and provide the kind of feel i’m after.¬† speaking of feel – what kind of song is it?¬† what kind of feel?¬† is it fast, slow, medium tempo?¬† rock, funk, jazz, country, blues, hip hop, reggae?¬† it all depends on the idea you started with.¬† you have to tailor the rhythm section to fit the particular style you’re doing and work accordingly.¬† an insightful bit of advice from songwriter/musician/bassist me’shell ndegeocello that i read years ago “a band is only as good as it’s rhythm section.”¬† and it’s served me well.¬† once you’ve laid a solid foundation, almost anything you put on top it bound to stand up and shine.¬† i focus on getting the parts to lock and to carry the weight and momentum of the song in preparation for the rest of the band.

which i’ll talk about next time…

Before the Music Dies

If you care at all about music, and, of course you do, otherwise you wouldn’t be here, watch this video-

Before the Music Dies

It’s a Music Documentary about the state of affairs in the music industry and why the industry makes it so difficult for YOU to find out about NEW MUSIC, like NEVIS.