Thursday, February 22, 2007

Not to get spacey on you

So, I'm talking to Matt right now about how to improve the songs and we're really on the same page about something. I know it sounds cheesy, but I really want the band to work on FEELING the emotion of the song, capturing its peaks and valleys. When we were recording the last record, I actually though about giving a backstory and telling the exact emotions the sound should convey. A lot of this is accidental in music, but I think it's going to take work for us to properly get a song's message across. Like I told Matt, I almost feel like we have to be in this weird unconscious state of delivery, where we're just receptacles of the music -- I know this sounds spacey and like I'm on drugs, but our job is to deliver the song and just be bystanders to it. Matt says a book called "Effortless Mastery" explains the idea of becoming a conduit for the music to emanate from and that John Lennon used to wax on the same subject.

I've been thinking about this a lot lately, in terms of my playing. I tend to put together two guitar parts at a time -- or two melodies. When I record solo, it's very easy for me to make the song deliver what I want it to because I either have a sound at one point or I don't. But in a band, it's not that simple. Sometimes, I'll show Mike the hook I want on guitar, and then you have another 40 seconds to fill up with SOMETHING. And the song may not need anything there. In fact, that something may detract from the rest of the instrumentation and vocal sounds.

It's really something that I get the most concerned about between Mike and I because we're responsible for providing the melody, while Scott and Matt provide the backbone and beat. Some may say my lead parts are simple because I can't play that well in a conventional sense, which may be, but also a simple guitar part is easy for a listener to wrap their mind around. I don't understand the need for a lot of complexity in music -- people listen for what they understand, what makes sense. We're not the type of tune that needs to have huge parts -- the complexity comes in subtle chord changes and vocal breaks. So, on actual lead guitar parts and keyboard parts (or lap steel, harmonica, banjo, whatever), we need to work on giving it a melody -- not just notes or scales that fit in the song. The way I gauge it is if the part is hummable and memorable after hearing twice, it's worth putting there (if it sounds right in the song, of course). This leads to me oftentimes thinking that a verse should JUST be chords -- no noodling or superfluous notes. Otherwise, it detracts from the message and the delivery. Then, you get your repeating instrumental melody and that's that. You've got a nice-sounding song.

So, that's what I want really locked in as we move forward. It starts tonight with the big practice -- should be good.

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