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…


now onto more practical bits

so moving on from the more abstract notion of ideas… let’s go onto how to turn that idea into something finished.

if you’re a visual artist, you may start by drawing some thumbnail sketches.  if you write prose, you might begin by writing a brief synopsis or some notes on major plot points or characters.   if you’re a musician you could start with a melody or chord arrangement, maybe lyrics.

for me it’s often a basic chord structure and rhythmic feel.  usually on guitar or bass.  for me, this is like a visual artists thumbnail sketch.  the basic outline from which everything else is built.  i’ll take this basic idea and record it, and then play around with it, trying different notes, rhythm, etc.  once i have that, i’ll usually start coming up with other parts to add to the idea and begin to shape it into a song  – and then it’s time to really start recording.

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.

“From Experience” won Track of the Week (week of July 6) on! The award is based on reviewers’ opinions of the tune. Check it out & review it and other independent music here.


“From Experience” won these awards on today:

  • Best Guitars
  • Best Drums
  • Best Bass

Very cool – thanks to all the reviewers who nominated the song for these awards!

Go take a listen, maybe review it for yourself…

Thanks for listening!