general fuzz

Musing from a obsessive computer music composer with hippie-ish tendencies.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Audio Angel

Over the years I've learned not to depend on other musicians to come through for me. Whats really important to me is not high priority to other people. Many musicians have a tendency to be flakey, and are prone to cancel at the last minute. It's a very frustrating lesson to learn.

By the end of '07, I had contacted three professional musicians that I really wanted to work with on my new album. I had mentally prepared myself for the fact that some or all of these sessions might not happen. This week I'm ecstatic to say I had a session with the third, and final musician, Rashida Clendening, also known as Audio Angel. It took my breath away.

After the last fully collaborative album, I've started to see myself both as a composer and a producer. When I have an artist in my studio, I record in a fairly untraditional manner. I like to have lots of material to work with, so I loop a section of a song and have a musician either play a melody/harmony that I've composed for them, or have them improvise for a while. I give feedback as we're recording to help ensure that I record audio that I'm confident I can use. At the same time, I try to give musicians the freedom and space to explore different ideas and use their voice. After the session I go back through the audio and seriously edit/re-arrange it so it sounds the way I want it to. For example, I'm currently working on a song that Dan Lebowitz recorded on. I've spliced tons of tiny bits of guitar line to make it sound like it has a natural progression with the song. Literally nothing you hear in the song was played in that way, but it should sound like it was. Of course, you still need excellent source material to make this process work. I consider this process producing opposed to composing.

Anyhow, I have composed a very short, minimalist song that is almost prayer like. This song is has become a little bit sacred to me, so I've been struggling how to produce it. I have been envisioning that the melody and harmony would be sung. I've seen Rashida perform in various ensembles over the years and really appreciated her ability to dynamically match the musical context (along with her truly magnificent voice). She's also incredibly outgoing, radiating positivity and beauty in every encounter. That means a lot to me. I wanted to find out how she would approach this "prayer" song (no idea what it'll be called), which would primarily comprise of her singing.

We did a session on Tuesday, and even though it was mostly her singing small bits of the song at a time, there were several times I got chills listening to her. That's never happened to me before during a recording session. I have great hope for this song reaching its maximum potential. I also have a deep respect for her, not just for the recording session, but when we were talking and learning about each other, she was challenging me to become more then I am. She left me with more then just inspiring audio - she left me with ideas to think about.



Blogger Polaski said...

I'm so envious of your Jim, you've definitely got something going for yourself! It's really cool (from a fan stand point) to see you rise fame. Once you hit it big time, no doubt I can say I am one of his oldest fans! Oh yeah, I was also able to work with him and share my computer desktop via netmeeting. What an honor :D

4:13 PM  
Blogger Gail said...

I'm looking forward to the new material! And does this musical magic happen in the workspace that I am honored to lay my head down in every time you and Stina so generously host open your door to Dan and me when we're in San Fran?

10:13 PM  

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