Tag Archives: rehearsal

Musical Journal

About 6 months ago, I bought a Moleskine notebook, and started using it as a kind of professional journal. I use it for setlists when I play live, for rehearsal notes, on sessions I sketch out quick charts, and on every page I note the date, the location, and the artist. It’s kind of cool to look back and have a record of what I’ve been doing, in a way that makes a lot of sense.

I’ve never been a journaler (expect for the time my court-mandated psychologist insisted), but this serves the function pretty well. It’s also awesome to have instant recall of charts and notes from things 6 months ago, when the client calls again.

By the way, kids, forget everything Daniel is teaching you in Arranging 1. This is what real charts look like.

moleskine-chart

Seasonal Affective Reordering

I love these kids.

These bright eyed recruits, fresh to the craft, newly minted and unpolished, these old and young all-at-once, these boundless excesses of energy, not yet stunted by perspective.

They are as unafraid of questions as any group I’ve ever seen, setting their frame-of-reference up against everything new and ready to see it changed and stretched and grown. They are wolves, and every new thing is their prey. Knowledge, experience, fear, wonder, they hunt it down with precision and abandon.

I sit down to eat with one of them, and hear confession. They are uncertain, and afraid, but they are undaunted. They are ill-at-ease with their received faith, with simplicity and steps and a church reduced to social gatherings, and are looking for some way of meshing old truths with the complexity of the world as they are coming into it. This is the very meaning of courage, to me, to lay aside old comforts in order to take up greater things.

UCO rehearsal campIn these days before the start of classes, there is the luxury of unhurried time, and a kind of egalitarianism. I am not yet their Professor, they are not yet at the mercy of my gradebook, and we can talk freely. We can be friends, for a few days more, and we can talk about ideas and their consequences. I think sometimes that I get to do my best teaching in these last few days of summer, when the campus is full of eager students, and my time is unbounded by lectures and grading.

I love this place, and these kids, and my place here with them.

39 Things I Learned at the 1st Dailies Rehearsal

Next week, Chad, Corey, Rosy and I are loading in our gear to El Dorado Studios for a week to record The Dailies record. I know Chad is going to jump on soon and start whipping the readership of this fine blog up into a frenzie of fan-driven internet buzz, so I don’t want to steal his thunder. I’ll just pass along some of my observations from the first rehearsal.

1) Sometimes it’s harder to work creatively with friends than it is to work with strangers. With strangers, everybody knows their role, because it’s assigned to them by the person writing the check. With friends, we’ve all done so much stuff together, and the dynamic changes so often, that it takes a little bit of push and pull to sort out who does what, who gets to have what opinion, how far to push ideas onto someone else’s part. It’s all good, but it’s also a different dynamic.

2) Over the course of the last few years, I’ve developed a lot of producing and keyboard skills that are specifically used to gloss over crappy musical ideas. “Hey everybody, ignore the pedantic melody and cliche lyrics of the singer-songwriter and listen to this awesome ear candy! Look at me! Look at me!” As a result, being confronted with very good musical material is leaving me empty-handed. I’m going to have to re-learn how to get out of the way.

3) Attention Songwriters: Jesus is not your girlfriend. You are his wife. Get over the sexual reassignment issues, and grapple with that for a bit. Then, listen to “As I Am” when the album comes out, and weep openly at how much better Chad wrote it than you did. He’s good. He’s scary good.

4) 6/8 is not for wimps!

5) There are few things in life as awesome as giving Rosy 4 beats right before before the chorus.

6) I need to learn to make my peace with technology. Getting angry with inanimate objects is maybe the stupidest thing ever. I should reserve my anger for the living, breathing people who build the technology which so thouroughly confounds my attempts at a peacful, zen-like state of bliss.

7) You know that thing where you look over at someone you know, who you’ve played with 500 times, and you think you’ve heard them do everything they do, and then they do something totally new, off the wall, perfect for the song, and it makes you jump back in awe? Corey is just crazy sexy cool on guitar.

8) Air Conditioning is an essential tool for proper rehearsal.

9) So is coffee.

10) Sometimes, the songwriter isn’t the best interpreter of their own songs. Sometimes, someone else in the room has to say, “I think these 8 bars function this way, not the way you originally thought”, and they will be right. Somewhere along the line (since the official end of Toil Nor Spin), Chad learned this piece of wisdom, and taught it to us. That’s a pretty humble thing to be willing to accept.

11) I love playing keyboards.

12) I also love writing charts. This is a nerdy thing to admit, but I really like the process of inking out rhythm charts. It’s methodical, organized, and easily the best way I know of to fully understand a song.

13) Fermat’s Lesser Known 4th Theorum: The amount of time between the start of rehearsal and the emergence of the first dirty joke is inversely proportional to the number of boys in the band.

14) Now is the right time to make this record. 5 years ago, Chad couldn’t have written it. 5 years ago, we couldn’t have played it. 2 years ago, we wouldn’t have wanted to badly enough to bend and flex to make the schedule work. 2 years from now we’ll be so famous that we won’t even answer Chad’s calls. So, now is probably perfect.

15) 3 years ago, I spent an entire Saturday building one single B3 sound on my Triton keyboard. It’s big, beefy, dirty, whirly, and still the most commented on sound I use on that board.

16) Ever seen Lenny Kravitz go into full rock star strut on stage during a live show? That’s how Chad looks while playing bass in rehearsal. He was actually head-banging at one point. To his own playing. On a ballad.

17) So was Corey.

This thing is shaping up to be an epic record. I’m lit on the idea of going into the studio with friends, and playing great tunes in one of the best rooms in town. if you’re wondering when you should start your crazy fan obsession, now would be the right time.