Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Random Musical Pieces

The musical side of my life marches onwards at a steadyish 120 BPM, mostly in standard time but with the occasional bar of 5/4 thrown in when I lose count.

The covers band has reached a level that can best be described as some place between rapid progress and standing still. We don't get together as often as any of us would like, not enough to learn loads of new songs that is, yet all our lives dictate that we can't, so that's okay then.

When we do hit the studio we spend a bit of time practicing the old songs and about two thirds of the time working on new material. The more honed we get the less time we need on the old material. Which is nice. Debates on our choice of new songs are long and, in the case of the drummer, often unsuccessful. I've been pushing the idea of doing some Biffy Clyro and a rocked up version of an Abba song, preferably Knowing Me Knowing You and have been rejected on both counts.

We are now kicking out our cover of Muse's cover of the famous Feeling Good. It's had a new impetus after featuring in an ad or two here and people love it. I'm also hugely enjoying playing Stay with Me, the original being by The Faces. It's the perfect example of balls out British R + B, from when R+B meant a different thing.

Times like These by the Foos has been a re entry into our setlist too. We play the full album version, with 8 bars of 7/4 at the beginning and 11 during the middle. It means I have to do a lot of counting, always a struggle! It's one of those songs that's invariably only appreciated by a few people in the audience but we luurve to play, so there.

My homework for this week is to learn this new song by Adele. It's all over the radio and TV here and not a soul doesn't like it, but it doesn't half remind me of Crazy by Gnarls Barkley, which really is a brilliant song. Still, it'll probably go down well, providing of course we can raise or lower the key enough to suit our singer.

Solskala, the originals band, is a very different animal. Our curve is currently much steeper, as we gather momentum, perfecting the existing songs and developing and learning new ones. Songwriting is not something I claim any expertise in, but I enjoy the experience of trying to come up with drum parts and grooves for songs in which other people have already done most of the hard work.

It's challenging to figure out a groove that complements the song, that fits nicely and that isn't over complicated. There's nothing worse than a musician who throws everything he or she knows into everything they play, just because they can. I'm of the opinion that a massive part of musicianship is playing for the song, knowing what not to play is way more important that knowing what to play.

And, when songs are written as demos, with a drum track already down, but I'm given license to do whatever I want, the challenge is to have an open mind whilst still staying true to the feel of the original, yet not just copying the original. Balance is the key.

Either way, Solskala is something I'm so enjoying and, if you're in London, there's a gig on April 21st if you're interested in checking out our mellow funky sunshiny vibes.

On the learning avenue I'm also doing things. My lessons with the new (though it's now about 6 months) teacher continue to be more stimulating than Strawberry flavoured Space Dust. We're covering a mixture of things; Latin grooves for my independence, linear fills for my creativity and musical library and exercises to a click, in which I'm shifting the beat, to make me more comfortable in my relationship with time.

I've felt the effects of these lessons in my playing. I'm not sure that any of my bandmates have, but I know it's there. I'm conscious of feeling more fluent around the kit and of carving out a deeper groove than I did before. And, even if I say it myself, I was a groovy mother to start with!

In my first lesson with this teacher I told him that one of my objectives was to have a bigger musical library, so I could pull out fills and phrase from it on demand, but also that I had the ability to play the things in it. I definitely think I'm making progress with that, though it'll be a lifelong journey anyhow.

There you have it. The music continues. And I love it.

PS - I had two look up two words in this post in the dictionary. If you can guess which ones you win absolutely nothing, just kudos and the knowledge that you're smarter than the average bear.


PseudoRandom said...

By the Adele song, I'm guessing you mean Rolling in the Deep as opposed to Someone Like You? I'd be a bit cautious about adding a beat to the latter.

As for the words, I'm inclined to go with 'complements' and 'independence', simply because they're usually spelt wrong (not by you; in general).

Rhythmic Diaspora said...

Pseudo - Yes, that's the song, I like it in the verses but am not so keen on the chorus. You're right about "complements" but not independence. Which means you might get the consolation prize of a weekend with the Auf.

Sach said...

Musicianship, perhaps?