Can you believe it! I finished a song! It has been a long, long time since I’ve done that (I’m estimating 6 months, more if you don’t count freewrites). A 40: Riding on The Wind.
Here are the recordings from yesterday’s jam with The Moment. I haven’t arranged them in optimal listening order this time. It may be because I am getting used to the songs, but I didn’t enjoy the recordings as much as last time. In spite of that, I highly recommend you listen to #1 and #2 in sequence. I call #1 “Armageddon” (totally improvised), and #2 is sixteen tons.
Tonight, Nolan and The Moment and I jammed together again. We’ll be doing a mini-gig on Monday, which should be fun. I have arranged the songs not by the order we played them, but by what I feel to be optimal listening order. That is, you can queue up all of these in a media player and listen straight through. I think they’re good enough to do that (the mastering is not very good, but the music is).
#3, #4, and #7 are covers, the rest are originals. I finally got to try out #6, which was a jam template that I came up with. It didn’t work out that well, but it’s a really funky groove, so with a little work it could become pretty solid. #5 is a song still in progress written by the lot of us.
I put an ad into craigslist saying that I was a keyboardist looking for a group to jam with. It was hardly a day before three people emailed me looking for a keyboardist. One of these people was Nolan McFadden and a group he calls “The Moment”. I recieved the email on Tuesday afternoon and went and jammed with them on Tuesday night. They are all extremely good musicians, and it took me about an hour to “get into it”. After that, though, it was one of the most fun times of my life. It was just non-stop music. We didn’t say “hey let’s do this song”, we just kinda found ourselves doing one song, and then by the end, we were doing another song. It was great music; I would pay a few bucks to see a concert. Alas, it was not recorded.
We had another jam today. The drummer and one of the lead guitars were missing, and the bassist did not have his bass. So it ended up being an acoustic jam. We did record this one. The recording quality was less than optimal: I was the only one powered, and also I was facing toward the mic while the other two had their backs to it. So what you’ll hear here is my piano playing backed up by some quiet percussion called acoustic guitars, and maybe you’ll get a quiet glimse of Nolan’s great voice and songwriting. It’s too bad, their guitar technique was awesome, and the recording hardly picked any of it up. We did two of Nolan’s originals, and we also started to write a song (no. 2). I do not know any of the names, so numbers will have to suffice.
Namaste, Jude, Denise and I jammed last night.
- Ouija – the experiment I talked about.
- Relative Minor
- Spontaneous Drumtastic
- Not a Polka
- The Whiner
- Ain’t no sunshine when all your musicians leave – Luke does an impressionist improvisation while the others talk about Reactor 64
Ouija went well—it accomplished its goal. We were in time with each other, and while I picked up on that it was boring to play, it’s not all that boring (for me) to listen to.
In Relative Minor, Denise told me to lead, and she’d pick up on the changes I was doing. The jam started in E minor, and then later on started switching between E minor and G major, and she indeed picked up on them. I think if I had done something reasonably more complex, she would have probably picked up on that too.
Spontaneous Drumtastic was totally spontaneous, totally insane, but I like it. I’m not sure anyone who didn’t participate in the event would like it.
Not a Polka ain’t a polka, contrary to my comment at the beginning of it. It was mostly solo on my part, because people were getting pretty tired.
The Whiner was some of the best monophonic (one note at a time) improv I think I have ever done. Jude was going kind of insane, and Namaste held the beat pretty well at the beginning. Actually, the first part is pretty good. After about five minutes it gets rambly, off-sync, and just bad.
I’m happy that I’m recording these, because although we still suck a lot, we are improving. Learning to play with other people—something none of us has done before (except Denise, who has been a singer, not a bass player, for a band)—is like learning a new instrument. It just takes a lot of practice for a little bit of gain. Knowing our instruments is not enough, we have to also learn our role in the group. I also like the direction it’s going of complete improvisation. It’s an especially interesting study for Namaste, who is learning his instrument completely improvisationally, without playing any prewritten pieces ever.
I got the feeling that Jude was pretty bored through the whole thing. I worried this might happen, because one of my goals for the night was to decrease structure. That is, we’re going to jam by just starting in and playing something and having everybody catch on. Jude doesn’t have a musically trained ear, so he can’t find the root of a chord or hear a I-IV chord change. Next week we will have to get some structure back so Jude can play something.
Oh, now that School is out, we are jamming every week! :-)
I had an idea for a “game” that a bunch of musicians could play, which I call Ouija. The jam group is weak rhythmically, so I came up with this in order to improve our rhythm. A game should probably take 20-30 minutes. Here’s the idea: one musician starts by playing a repetitive pattern or motif. Other musicians gradually come in with their own complementary repetitive motives. Musicians can drop out, abruptly change their motif, change instruments, or whatever at any time. The only requirement is that each motif a musician plays must be played for a “long time” in some sense of the word, except for occasional short fill-ins. That is, if you asked somebody to describe the line of music that was being played, they would probably say “repetitive”. Oh, and the motives have to be “in time”.
My hope is that this will give us practice playing in time with each other, while making a musically interesting song. I’m guessing that the music will gradually change between moods.