I recently bought a new interface to record with, I tested it Sunday night and I thought I was all set to record Monday morning. Then the software didn't work the morning of. Darn technology! So we did more of experimenting and playing with the microphone and the keyboard. People seemed to be a little more outgoing this week which was nice. One Women, Deb is especially enthusiastic. Since we couldn't record I decided to get some lyrics down to prepare for some recording next week. For the first piece Deb dictated the lyrics and I wrote them down. The second piece was written as a group collaboration.
Song # 1 - Deb
I don’t smoke.
I don’t drink.
I don’t cuss.
I don’t yell or hit.
None of that stuff.
Baptized and the holy ghost.
I feel good inside.
Song # 2 - Hip-Hop
I like going for a walk.
I like trees.
Birds sound pretty.
Dogs, puppies, cats, a little baby kitten.
They’re nice, they purr.
I feel the sunshine.
The sun shine is bright on your face.
I like it when it rains because it makes the flowers grow and the grass grow.
The farmers need water for the grass.
I got my technology issues worked out Monday evening so we could hit the ground running with the Eagan and Apple Valley Groups. The participants from the Eagan group recorded an instrumental backing track, then put three different sets of lyrics on top of it. Jerriel talked about Soulja Boy. My favorite lyric of his being "Soulja Boys a good friend!" Love it! Troy talked about country music. When he was done recording he exclaimed "Nailed it!" He said this in such an enthusiastic and gleeful voice that we all immediately decided he had to record that too! I think that's my favorite part of the track. Chad is really into robots so he said "robots" a bunch of times. I'll post this tack next week after I edit it some.
The Apple Valley group was cruising through the recording process. We recorded two tracks together this week! But first we listened to "No Halloween" From last week. Everyone got a good laugh from the track and I think listening to it made everyone excited to get back into the recording process. Making this kind of music, it can be tough to decide when I'm doing a job. One indicator I use for success is wether or not it makes people smile or if it prompts laughter of joy or admiration. When this happens I know I'm heading in the right direction. In the first piece I shared last week I ignored rhythm, but in this piece I focused on rhythm to help hold it together. After a participant recorded an instrument I used a function in the recording software called quantizing. Quantizing moves the notes that were played to lock them into a rhythmic grid. Side note, Some folks see this as cheating, but industry professionals making digital music do it all the time, so there is no reason we can't do it at MSS. Critics of quantizing have some legitimate points. If everything is locked in perfectily it can take away a human element to music. And it takes away from the art of creating a groove or a pocket, where one instrument may be on top of the beat, while another instrument plays behind the beat. I find this really digs a groove into your body so it's something that should be strived to achieve. Still I think if technology can help people to create music who may not have made music without that technology, then in the end it's a good thing. There will always be an infinite amount of things for musicians to learn in music regardless of abitliy level.
In Oakdale we also started our day listening to the track we recored last week, "Deep Fried Pickles" Dan the staff member had workshopped the lyrics with the group while I was gone. Everyone in the group got a good laugh and everyone seemed excited to make another track. I loved this track because the group approached the music honestly and didn't feel the need to make a grand statement. They had fun and really exuded a sense play while while they were creating, and I think that comes across in the music.
After working on two new tracks folks started to get a little tired of recording which was understandable, so we spent the rest of our time doing some sing alongs. I played the piano and the group sang. We did "Lean on Me", "Sitting on the Dock of the Bay", and "Halleluiah".
With the Shoreview group we did a lot of recording as well! Each person took a turn laying down some atmospheric sounds. I'm going to take some time to do some editing on that track this weekend so that I can share it next week! This piece sparked an idea for me for a live performance as well. I'll delve into that a bit next week.
We've got a bunch of vocalists in our Brooklyn park group! Some of them are the ones with the soft voices I mentioned last week. Rosy sang "This Little Light of Mine" and "Amazing Grace", both were really pretty. Forester was adamant about not singing today, I was happy to have him exercise that choice. It makes it a bit more meaningful to me when he does sing. Then later in the session he couldn't help himself and chimed in on "Country Roads" without prompting. Carloline has been pretty hesitant on the microphone. So I started by asking her to tell me about what she ate for breakfast. Then I had her tell me some about her weekend. I was just warming her up, eventually she wanted to sing "Twinkle Twinkle". I'm hoping to get some more stories out of her next week. On to Joan. I had made a list of some covers I needed to learn for Joan, but I misplaced it. So I made sure to get that list down in a place where I won't lose it. I've got some work to do for her for next week, I've got a New Kids on the Block tune and learn, and one from REO Speedwagon. So she sang some without accompaniment, then I had her improvise a song which I did accompany her on. I talked to her about writing down some lyrics, she said she would write down the lyrics to the one she just improvised. Her staff member is going help her out with that. I have a feeling the one she improvised may be someone else's song that i'm not familiar with. We'll see!
I went back to Oakdale Friday morning because I missed Joe on Wednesday. He had been training for a possible employment opportunity. Joe sang through his piece twice, he is starting to get more comfortable with it. I talked to him about possibly performing the piece on the concert, and also possibly writing some more songs, he said he would think about it. He also said he wanted to record his song again next week, I'm looking forward to that!
Who gets to make music?
Last week I talked about Liz Lermans love of questions, and how using questioning as a practice can lead to wondrous possibilities. One of the questions she poses is "Who gets to dance?". For Liz Lerman brining up this question opened up possibilities to collaborate with a variety of communities outside of the dance world. I redirect this and say "Who Gets to make music?". To me the obvious answer is everyone! At least everyone who wants to. I'm bringing this idea to life In the case of this residency by making music with the participants at MSS. To me the music is interesting in its own right, but by including people in music making process who aren't typically afford the right, we can make a statement about what it means to be an inclusive community and what it means to value all members of a community. This question can lead to other questions: Who gets to be stage? Who gets to attend a concert? Who gets to learn music?