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I’ll  speak of my recent working process here putting together some tracks with UK solo bass guitarist Steve Lawson. Steve came in and we hung out and of course we got around to playing.  I mean who WOULDN’T want to play with this guy right?  We recorded some stuff onto to his apparatus (which always reminds of a disemboweled robot) and did it with the organic on-the-fly methodology, which of course is his modus operandi, two people interacting in the moment.  It’s always great fun and challenging.  Sometimes I don’t know where to fit in with what he’s doing, but I do find my way somehow.  That “somehow” is where you grow, I feel anyway.   So, when we’re done with that, the inevitable question always comes up which is, “what have you got, Trip?”

So, I start hemming and hawing, and then I start digging out soundscape sketches that I never finished and probably never would have, had that question not come up. So, I dug them out of the computer, (an old MAC G4) and it was “play on these.” Some had been sitting there for years, frankly.  I kept them because something was there, I just didn’t know what.   Here’s where my process comes in…

Me:  Here play on this.

Steve:  OK.   I’ll start here with this sound and the slide.

Me:  Great that’s done.  Now, do something else.

Steve:  I’ll “else” with this sound.

Me:  Back off the reverb a bit and shorten it up.

Steve:  K.

Me:  That’s great.  Do something else.

Steve:   How ‘bout this?

Me.  Go

Steve:  Are we finished with that one?

Me:  Yes.

Both:  NEXT!

It takes about ten minutes or so.

It’s a rather cold way of working.  I get that.  But, inside I’m really so excited that I have to cancel the emotions out and become Mr. Spock.  Steve being English, just gets quiet and goes for it.  I don’t really know what he’s thinking.  I almost don’t want to know.  I’m just asking wordlessly (a rare thing for me) for help to make this thing come alive.  I did keep it after all for some strange reason.  Waiting for the right action to present itself.  A very Tao thing to do and say, I might add.   Speaking of cold, I was mixing another song in which Steve and I tracked at the same time, doing some interplay.  Well, it didn’t sound right upon later listening. So, the first thing I did was mute my track and it was instantly perfect.  So, I let Steve take the majority of the tune and I make an appearance toward the end.  Heck, the tune IS mine and music exists outside of my chosen instrument.  If it doesn’t need it, it just plain doesn’t need it.  Silence is what we clothe in sound.  Why ruin a good sonic serape by spilling low end 57 sauce on it?

I took the tracks from the G4 and DP and dumped them to an external HDD, which was purchased after my Macbook HDD died.  Then I transferred them to the Macbook with its new and speedier HDD so I could work all over the house and all over town on the tunes.  This is where the time consuming part comes in.  I have to find sounds and beats and an overall direction for the thing.  Asking the music what it wants and then interpret metaphysical data and see if my interpretations are correct. I then start programming the aforementioned data. I’m always alone, with no one to tell me yes or no. Which sometimes sucks. I often have to let an idea sit overnight, return to it in the morning to see if I was as smart as I thought I was.  Usually, it’s not so good.  Something is out of place.   I then attempt to correct it and get a new direction going.  Time consuming to say the least.  I usually don’t mind.  I am working these days at abandoning things and labeling them “finished” a bit faster these days.  I must say, that I love digital tech for this reason.  We are in a blessed time for powerful affordable recording tech these days.   That said, when it comes time to record my basses.  I like old school.  I love tubes.  I love big trannies.  I like organic heavy ugly gear.  There’s a certain something you get from the real thing that doesn’t happen in a modeler.  Although, those Guitar Rig plug-ins are starting to look more appealing, to blend with the real stuff that is.

The way I recorded my bass solos were to do ONE take all the way through, which I did.  I allowed no edits.  I usually nailed it in 1 to three takes.  Each take this time was a keeper but I did a few more, just to see if something spoke better and with more clarity.  I used to do 230948 takes or so.  Which was ridiculous.  I began to think long and hard about that, I started to reason that perhaps playing outside of my ability was taking precedence over my ears, heart, soul etc, rather than the technique that I already HAVE, executing the direction.  When, that method was adopted things began to run more smoothly and were 100% fun.   I hope it shows.  Love to all and later.


One Comment

  1. …that’s a pretty accurate summary of how it went down 🙂

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