A Quiet Roar

Here is a song I wrote in order to create a playing opportunity for myself and some of my musician friends. Staying in shape while gigs, rehearsals and most playing is on hold is important. It’s important both in terms of the physical aspect of staying in shape on your instrument and also keeping the creative side of music making alive.

So what’s the plan? Call, email and text some friends and enlist them to take part in a musical project. I’ll write the tune, arrange it for the instruments we have and then start the recording process.

I have the players, (flute, flugelhorn, trombone, bass and drums along with me playing 2 guitar parts). I’ve got a nice little Bossa ready to go. Next we need the arrangement. Time to grab my guitar, open up Sibelius and start writing. For this tune I decided that I would make myself the feature taking the solo and sharing the head with the flute, flugelhorn and trombone.

For this arrangement I’ll need an intro, to map out who plays which parts of the melody and when, where to harmonize, some backgrounds and an ending. Sound like a good plan for this instrumentation.

Arrangement done so it’s time to lay down some tracks. First I save the Sibelius file as a MIDI file so I can create a starting point for my guitar tracks. With MIDI files in Logic Pro I can record a rhythm guitar track on nylon string and play the melody on electric. I also added an electric bass part to help the drummer with his part.

So this basic version with guitars, bass and a few MIDI horn parts goes off to the drummer. Within a day or two he sends me drum tracks and percussion tracks along with videos. Next I mix another version with all the drum parts and send it off to the horn players. Soon enough I have all their parts and videos and then do a quick mix of all of that, remove my bass part and send that off to the bass player. Bass playing sends me his part and video so now I have everything.

With all the parts done, I can now do a better mix and also redo my guitar part and solo. Next I mix everything and finally bring all the videos and the final mix from Logic Pro into Final Cut Pro. I’m no video editing wizard so a simple video highlighting everyone here and there will suffice as the music is the main ingredient.

Here is the final product!

A Quiet Roar

And here is the guitar part to give you an idea of the tune.

A Quiet Roar, Guitar Part

For now I’m planning to keep active musically by writing, arranging, recording and posting more videos of my music. I hope this will give you a better idea of the process involved in collaborating and creating music with others while being unable to meet in person. I hope everyone is finding creative ways to keep active musically. Keep playing your jazz guitar and moving forward musically. Nothing can stop us!

Quarantine Time Creativity

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This is without a doubt, a terrible time in history for the well being of all around the world. Covid-19 has taken a terrible toll with a staggering number of lives lost and terrible suffering by so many. It is also proving to be a time of extreme hardship for millions with many losing their jobs, salary and livelihood.

For the many musicians and artists around the world, physical distancing has put a sudden stop to any kind of performing or live shows. Artists and performers from young new talent to the most popular and famous have been unable to share their gifts in the usual way. Somehow despite all of this, there seems to be so music music happening just the same. On Facebook and Youtube you can see and hear all kinds of artists who somehow manage to reach out to audiences with performances pieced together using every kind of technology and music gear along with sheer perseverance.

I have been so moved by artists like Chick Corea and his creativity workshops presented from his home straight to YouTube. Wow, what an incredible gift to all those learning to play jazz. So many famous and talented musicians are sharing their gifts with the world despite these challenging times.

Artists are a resilient and tenacious lot. They are above average at weathering storms and enduring hardship. Isolating oneself from society is something we do on a regular basis as well. We are good at locking ourselves away and practicing our craft alone for hours and hours on end. We are perhaps a little more equipped at isolation than others.

I think this is a good time for all of us to try and be creative and share our gifts with the world. Whether by yourself or collaborating with friends or musical colleagues, grab your iPhone, tablet, favourite DAW or whatever is available to you big or small and make some great music. Record audio or a video of you performing some great jazz guitar and share it with anyone and everyone who will listen. Music heals and inspires. It’s something we can all contribute right now.

Recently by brother, also a guitarist, reached out to me to collaborate on one of his compositions. He had an idea to record and video one of his tunes and maybe find a few other musical friends to help out. He did most of the hard work organizing everything and editing the video. I helped out with the mix. We played some music, shared it with the world and hopefully made a few people a little happier as well.

Now I’ll share it with you. BTW, that’s me playing the 7 string classical guitar and my brother Ron playing electric. We are joined by two very talented Montreal musicians: Dave Watts on bass and Stephane Jose on drums.

RED

Another project I’ve been involved with is the Blue Mondays Jazz Orchestra. We are a Montreal based Big Band with a vocalist. Over the course of the Covid-19 pandemic, we have recorded 4 videos which you can find on YouTube. It was an opportunity to keep the music and the band going.

I’ve played on all of them and mixed all but the first. It’s been an interesting experience to piece together a big band chart with 16 members recording on their own in isolation. The end result is pretty amazing considering many used iPhones and tablets and did so in much less than perfect recording environments. (living rooms, basements…) Have a listen to “The Look of Love.”

Blue Mondays Jazz Orchestra – The Look of Love

I will once again encourage you to keep at the music and stay positive. We will get through this. Make some music and share it with the world. If you help to raise the spirits of even one person during this pandemic, then it’s worth it.

Practice Timetable

You’ve probably noticed that learning jazz guitar involves practicing many different things from scales to chords to arpeggios and so much more. You may even start to realize that there is an overwhelming amount of material to practice. Yes, there is a lot to practice but it’s all very doable. Knowing how to effectively organize your practice time is critical to moving forward. So what do we do.

Although you do need to practice everything, you need to practice the areas where you are weak more often and areas where you are strong less often. In other words, work on new techniques and concepts should take up the majority of your practice time while leaving a little time to review techniques and concepts you are more confident with.

A practice timetable is an excellent way to organize your practice time. A timetable allows you to keep track of the things you need to practice, how much time you will spend on each and what you are practicing each day. This way you keep track of the things you practiced yesterday or last week and have a clear record of everything you have done and everything you need to do. It’s so easy to find yourself wrapped up in something new, especially when you are excited about practicing it. This can lead you to neglect areas that may not be one hundred percent and require attention. Continue reading “Practice Timetable”