Thursday, November 16, 2006

In search of the groove, finding Bill Withers

I'm still on my quest to get more of a groove in my music. My teacher, Ben Senterfit turned me on to Bill Withers. Best known for hits like "Ain't no Sunshine" and "Lean on Me," Bill Withers typifies the groove that I'm searching for. Check out his Live at Carnegie Hall album (1973).

In analyzing the music, its interesting how simple the chording and rifts are. There's strong base lines which provide an underlying pulse to the songs. The music by itself is pretty predictable. The reason his songs are so great is that the focus falls on the lyrics and phrasing.

This was a great insight. I'm a guitarist first and a vocalist last. I've been trying to make my guitar parts the focus, which in turn leaves little room to be too creative in the vocals. In other words, to make the lyrics more prominent, I need to think of the guitar as providing the pulse only, with the lyrics being the place for the expression.

Now back to the drawing board. I'm going simplify guitar parts with a focus on strong, consistent base lines. The challenge somes in making the vocals interesting. Of course my lyrics better be really good!

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Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Writing a meditation

Last week my songwriting took a new twist. Composing the music for a mediation.

My concept was to use background sounds of water. Using free sound clips I started with rain, followed by a small brook, to a rapid, and finally the ocean. I talked over each clip and at the ocean, I played the native American flute over the sounds of the waves. It turned out pretty cool.

The biggest challenge was using my Zoom recording system and the free sound clips. The clips are only a few seconds in length, so I needed to piece a number of clips together. The big challenge was bumps where the clips came together. I never really solved this issue, and had to be creative in my mix and when using my final product in the meditation.


Thursday, November 09, 2006

Rainbow Follows the Storm

The shifting political winds reminded me of a song that I wrote in 2004, the Rainbow Follows the Storm. I posted it on my web site. Check it out!

I was sitting in a room of staunch Democrats the day after the re-election of George W. Bush. Doom and gloom was in the air. Being the eternal optimist I thought of the phrase, the rainbow follows the storm. This symbolizes that dark periods are often followed by periods of enlightenment. The sweep by the Democrats this week could be the start of the rainbow.

Of course for the Republicans, the storm just arrived.