Benevolence (Recovery Of The Writer’s Block)

Above is the link to my fourth album “Benevolence,”

So returning to blogging from my recent break away, lacking inspiration until I got back into the studio to make some new improvised treats, Using the usual microphone placement we got back to work, this time … without Murphy (Bass Trombone).

Microphone Placement:
C2 x2 – Drums
AKG Drum Clip – Snare
Rode NT1 – Room
SM57 – Guitar
SM57 – Bass (plus direct DI output)

The usual set up for us basically, it always gets a nice clear sound and gives the recording a lot of natural space, really capturing each player. I listen back to the music I’ve already made and sometimes I forget that we actually manufacture everything, the fact that it’s improvised too adds to my pride that I have for the music. The stimulus for this piece is the fact that a week beforehand our lecturer Murphy suggested we tried a quieter approach which worked but only for so long, I’ll lay down my thoughts into why we couldn’t resist riffing and jamming with a bit more “Oomph.”

It all comes down to choices, choices as a musician! when playing on this album the first track is a mixture of volume swell and drum warm ups (getting ready for the endurance that is ambient music), so after 5 minutes or so I decide to start using drop D (tune low E string a tone down) using add 9 chords to get certain flavor for the creation, this creating tension within the group due to the fact that I’ve ignored the quiet instruction given and done my own thing I.E Improvisation! Yes I notice that I’m slightly out of tune too, this could be thought of as a mistake but in my defense, I’m looking to give something a natural & organic sound, it’s a hit and miss technique of trying to see what’s right & wrong in music, sure it stresses me a bit because I notice it whilst grinding my teeth but it’s interesting to see what the audience think, most non musicians don’t even realize or notice.

20 minutes now after a lot of nice chords and steady drums and things are starting to become more and more abstract as the drummer decides to do his own thing, this gives me and the bass player room to try more abstract ways of thinking such as trying new options on pedals/ playing different styles/ hitting more chromatic notes.

28 minutes, my chords are Db Add 9 with open strings/ A add 9 with open strings/ F# major with top two open strings. This is the bit where the drummer is having fun mixing time signatures as I’m trying straight rhythm but still matching whatever time the drummer throws at me also accompanied by bass. Jams like this make me happy as this is what we normally do as a warm up or a mess around but then still sounds great on the recording. As we break away from the conventional 3 chord trick things change as it seems as if the key has been thrown out the window although me and the bassist are still respecting appropriate riffs into the “Avant garde,” drums at this point, I’ll explain more about choice now.

Every album has had a stimulus which generates ideas as we’re all relatively creative with our instruments, in improvisation the choices we make don’t necessarily falter other musicians but can inspire new threads of riffs and ideas. In conventional songwriting the composition is law and you must follow the letter (if your the session player) as well as bringing your own ideas to the table you have to be 100 % into your clients work, you need the work! Whereas with our current situation our material gives way for more comfort and our choices don’t really affect the music in a bad way, just a different way. Choices mostly come into the form of constant evaluation and decision making (asking 1000 questions from “Why did I play that the way I did?” “Should I take a step back?” “Should I take the lead on melody?” ) all of this comes into play when decision making.

I almost ruined this recording, later int he recording the music will reach to a part full of tension and climax, I decide to use the condenser mic (Rode NT1) as my tool as I start grunting and crying down it, this clips the sounds drastically and we all didn’t know whether this would be a valid recording. Luckily it was salvaged but with only minimal editing to volume, remember the deal was no process changes or alterations were to be made once the final product was created.

“The Red Door,” – my favorite thing ever!

This track comprises of me using octave work, the bass making an under laying volume swell filling the spinal work of the track, the drums come in with clicks to cause intrigue I guess? all I know is that I’m proud with this piece and I listen to this the most out of the album, Carl starts using percussion such as a rainmaker to add to the mix too. As the track progresses consumers can assume that the track is over but instead the group walks round the studio and breathes down the microphone, after this choice I resume with my octave work as the bass player loops his volume swell he can start on new ideas whilst we occupy the listener with a steady riff.

This link represents our inspiration for the titles to the album and track, we watched the film after the piece was created but for inspiration of title names and future stimulus’ we decided to watch “American Beauty,” this film has wonderful cinematography and Thomas Newman takes the helm with the OST (Soundtrack). The film is a gold mine for stimulus as it contains art/ monologue/ music & story line, a fan of the film it was my pleasure to introduce it to James, I’m sure this film will come in handy for future projects.

Really enjoyed writing this blog, I hope you enjoy reading/ listening/ watching it too! be sure to check out the film “American Beauty,” as I believe it may inspire you too.


Me…. Singing…. What? (Yeah That’s American Beauty!)

So for the past few weeks I’ve been learning how to sing, tough….. all I can say is, really tough!

I used to when I studied Drama & Performing Arts at Solihull Blossomfield College 08 – 10, I really thought in my heart that I would continue in that line of work, real eye opening couple of years as I found myself constantly battling my mind to support confidence in my studies just to carry on. I didn’t find my love for music straight away, I had to work to find what I wanted to do and rarely any support was found from family due to them being old fashioned.

When I was studying Performing Arts I obtained a few skills that have helped such as confidence and the ability to be on stage without major concern, I used to sing all the time but I wasn’t any good, I tried but never got anywhere. So coming back to singing was quite the challenge and due to everyone in the lesson being younger than me I felt pressure, as I tried to get stuck in I was given a warm reception (I guess they’d seen that I was trying) I’m pretty good at that… “Trying.” As the weeks have got on I’m still treated as a guest in the class (which is not on my time table, it’s voluntary) but I really want to improve myself!

This current week, we had to sing “Clocks – Coldplay,” not a fan, but the vocals are interesting and I will certainly be practicing to prove to myself I can accomplish this and also maybe the class will take me a tad more seriously. I feel singing could open opportunities for future prospects, who knows?

Just a quick draft today, I’ll be posting my progress as I go, I also included a Thomas Newman piece in which he wrote for “American Beauty,” a brilliant OST and a brilliant film. I hope you enjoy his work just as much as I do!