We're hurtling towards the end, and the wheels are careening out of control.
But hey, I have videos for you!
(Remember how I said I did not want to be spongebob?)
What do you mean, you're in Sydney?
Everything seemed to be working out. We were together, practicing, and smoothing out our composition. We had all the midi keyboards, we had the looper pedal, we had the singer! We were finding what parts were strong, and which needed work, and jamming it all out; music is a language after all, and while writing it down does wonders-- performance is all speaking. But.
(It's better not to ask what we're attempting to do with my midi box and Simone's cardigan)
It was half way through this jam session that we learned there had been some kind of miscommunication; our singer, Andy, couldn't make the performance. He would be in Sydney, turns out, for a paid gig that night. We're not sure why he thought this wouldn't collide with our performance (as he returns the day after), but hitting the panic button suddenly looked real tempting.
We didn't. And I have to give Simone kudos. When this tidbit of information hit us, I was expecting shit to hit the fan. I looked at her, and I could see the temptation rising-- I knew it was rising in me. But what good comes from freaking out? Instead, Simone took a deep breath and clarified with her friend. "You sure?" Hopefully someone had the dates wrong-- no such luck. Okay.
We immediately started thinking of other singers who we could call in to replace him. We had spotted the ice-berg, and were going to veer left, dammit. We weren't Spongebob-- yet. And this is the part where I say a miracle hit us. Simone found replacement the next day.
Meet our Angel
A few days later, I found myself travelling to the coast for a two hour session to meet Mr Jake at the nice university studios down there. This was a great opportunity to see what kind of set-up we needed, and start really nailing our song in a 'performance' scenario-- which we discovered is still not there sadly. The more we ran through it, the more we realised the ending was just too weak. We decided this had to be reworked before our next rehearsal.
And I Launch into Action
A few days after this session, it became clear our composition just wasn't hitting it yet. We had other assessment breathing down the back of neck, and while we were putting the time into this subject, we weren't achieving much to show it. We had hit a brick wall. Again.
So far, Simone had been in charge mostly of the composition as I was looking after another project we had together. But as we gained a third active member to that subject, I jumped into Sonic Art to see if I could come up with anything.
I ended up sitting at my piano for hours, staring at pen-filled pages of mush; I was clawing at the brick wall, shredding my fingertips, and not having much to show for it. Or so I thought.
Turned out I had a lot more than I realised in our next session. Simone sat down with me at the piano, and we bashed it out with Nathan improvising on the horn behind us. We implemented my new opening and motifs that I had created the previous day while Simone introduced her new chorus.
However there was something funny, timing wise, with the melody of her new section. I couldn't put my finger on it, until it clicked. I grabbed my phone, and pulled up one of my old experimentation videos. It turned out an old idea of mine had stuck in her head, and she had tried to recreate it with different chords and tempos. Quite amusing. We quickly fixed it up, and continued with the flow.
(Remember that photo? Here's the video.)
By jamming together, we fixed one of the main issues eating at me the last few weeks-- the lack of musical 'quirks'. While Simone's composition was good, it was relying too heavily on drums and synth pads. She was stuck in a 8-bar loop mentality, which was partly her DAW (Digital Audio Workstation)'s fault and partly the expectations of her genre.
I have to admit I'm not a fan of composing in Ableton due to the default work flow; it can become a very dangerous trap if you're not consciously making sure your composition flows as naturally as possible, and that Ableton-- as an instrument-- is being used as organically as possible.
However, by sitting at the piano, all those musical elements came back to Simone that have been hardwired into us since birth, and drilled into us by every song we listen to, and every piece we learn. She was accenting the tension and release my new material brought, and bringing in her own rhythmic ideas and as such.
We finally figured it all out and it was a lot of fun.
Sadly our singer couldn't make it for our test performance which didn't go ahead anyway.
As you can see in the video, our composition has morphed quite a fair bit from our time at the coast. It's still rocky as it hasn't been rehearsed with our singer yet, and we're missing key elements such as the Wii Remote (which wouldn't work), Nathan's Horn manipulation (we didn't have a mic), and you know, the singer (which means the no looping).
Simone's keyboard also stopped working half way through the piece.
I want to work on expanding on these elements now. Introducing all the manipulation, and maybe adding some of my harmonies into another keyboard (such as a bell sound).
I have also organised a grand piano for my use. It is my instrument of choice, and I feel most comfortable sitting at a traditional piano, than a midi keyboard-- which I most likely will still be using.
NEXT WEEK IS IT
The performance. It is here, and oh boy this is going to get interesting. By Wednesday I need to have the composition bulletproof for our practice with our singer which has to go off without a hitch and preparation for Friday. We have one rehearsal with Jake before bump-in and it must be seemless; he must be able to slip into the piece like slipping on a glove made perfectly for him.