Jon is like a lightning rod for me. I have a lot of ideas around that man and it’s always fun to knock around ideas with him. Today we were talking about how looping musical parts has become so easy and as a result so boring that much of the music is just a few bars repeated over and over. Anybody with a laptop can do it. Now, what would be more interesting is to contrast very open “timeless” improvised sections with very tight loopy groove sections. Yes, Jazz musicians do that a lot – improvising open parts, BUT they don’t usually enjoy a pretty chorus anymore. So, the idea would be to contrast improvised group recordings with very tight, and yes, predictable chori. Imagine walking out on thin ice and then finding a path, then floating on ice and then finding a bridge. Wilderness/Home/Wilderness/Home. Searching. Finding. Repeat. Following a verse that stretches time and melody, we arrive at a chorus that beckons and seduces and is comforting and familiar. Naturally, because different recording methods would be used for verse and chorus, the instruments would sound different from section to section, but I don’t think that would bother me. It would add to mystery. This would truly be digital recording. The medium is the message. I mean working with a beat/bar grid is obviously something digital, but it’s kindergarten digital rather than advanced digital. I am talking about a hybrid technique of recording that combines the quality of making music in the moment (no grid) with the comfort of a pop chorus (grid). Using both instead of one OR the other.

I suspect that grids and loops might be the sort of thing people might not enjoy as much 20 years hence. Those were the barbaric early days of digital recording, they might say then. They had discovered grids and loops and it took 10 years for audience and musicians to get sick of that and move on.

There are some radio stations that play exclusively grid and loop music and you can nod your head to same beat for hours… like a clock…

By the way, a little while ago Jon showed me the intro for a Transit2 piece that keeps playing in my mind. He contrasted human drumming with drummachine bits and had fieldsounds and synth floating over and behind it… some parts were changing as a filter slowly modulated the frequencies. Very very cool. Transit2 will be an amazing album.

PS: Full Disclosure. The album La Semana, which I still consider to be one of my finest moments, is a grid and loop recording. After my son was born I was withdrawn and did not want to deal with an engineer or with musicians – except for Jon of course, but he is family – and so I did the entire album by myself, except for the bass performances. All of the percussion tracks you hear were recycled and looped from earlier performances, mostly Dave from The Santa Fe Sessions, but also other stuff from my 15 year library of sounds (everything from 1990 on has been digitized and is available to me in 24/48 quality). In order to make the percussion loops less obvious I did a lot of new palmas and made many thousands of small edits to the loops in order to have enough variation. It was an incredible experience making that album, from the depth of lost to the joy of finding.

Tuesday Morning

Last night Stephen Duros sent me the stereo mix file of a beautiful song for his new album via YouSendIt. I will play a solo in my studio this week and send it back. Musical collaborations in the 21st century. His new album will be very very nice.

Jon came by this morning and brought new parts for an opium-ized version of Dreaming on the Starlight Train and Quiet Dawn. Several new bass and synth parts. Very trippy. My electric guitar solo on Dreaming on the Starlight Train is holding up very nicely. Decided that instead of re-working ITAOL I will work on a Euphoria3 CD. This album would re-work slow material from In the Arms of Love, La Semana, and Winter Rose – plenty of nice slow material there! A re-working of Bells for example could be very appealing. So ITAOL 2007 is now morphing into Euphoria3, which will be very down-tempo, dreamy, and multi-layered. We are adding lots of field-sounds, new ones as well as some old ones from my extensive mid-nineties sound-fishing + field-recording expeditions. A discovery album.

Ideas for follow-ups to Tears in the Rain include an album called Duets (that’s just a working title), for which I would play/improvise with several of my favorite musicians. I could imagine a few songs with Rahim playing oud, some with Jon playing fretless electric bass guitar or upright acoustic bass, some with Dave playing percussion, and some with Robby playing Kora or Cajon or Djembe (or one of the many other instruments that man plays – I hear he gets great sounds out of a silver knife and spoon as well!!).

My current take on recording is this: I prefer the quality of uncompressed 24/96k for solos or duets, but for band stuff compressed 24/44.1 or 48 is fine. 24/96 is just so many bits wasted on band music… Once I have a bunch of instruments plus percussion, the dynamics have to be lowered via compression or parts will get lost in the mix. But for the solo or duo stuff a greater dynamic range is wonderful and useful.

The Bounty of Rome

The Bounty of Rome – New York Times
Say Rome to me and my first thoughts are not of the swirling traffic around the marble wedding cake that is a monument to Vittorio Emanuele II, nor of the eaten-out stone melon that is the Colosseum, nor of the ‘Dolce Vita’ set as immortalized by Fellini. Rather, I think first of the creamy foam, or spuma, that tops lightly sugared espresso at the always jammed Sant’Eustachio around the corner from the Pantheon, the coffee bar that I still consider this city’s best.

Yes, indeed.

Women’s Brains

pashmina blog – women’s brains and developing intuition
The New Feminine Brain : How Women Can Develop Their Inner Strengths, Genius, and Intuition – by Mona Lisa Schulz

This book is stunning! Every woman needs to read this book, because not only does the author present us with groundbreaking research (easy to understand, btw) on our brains, but also she tells us what this means for us in our daily lives. If you have ever wondered about your own MOOD, ANXIETY, MEMORY or ATTENTION than this book will give you many valuable answers.

What I found most fascinating is that health problems we are facing as women today are affected by the dramatic shifts in women’s roles, responsibilities and lifestyles. And these changes are only as recent as 60 years old. Our brains are entirely different from our mothers, and grandmothers, because we’ve had to adapt to a very different world. This has made our bodies (that don’t evolve as fast) a sensitive and reactive landscape to compensate for the changes in deep patterns and structures going on in our brains.

Music Farm

RAI – Music Farm
Nel 2002, dopo diverse partecipazioni alla trasmissione televisiva di Rai Due, Tops of the Pops. Leda pubblica il singolo Mamasita, che anticipa il terzo album la cui uscita è prevista per la primavera 2006.

I hear that Leda Battisti is participating in an Italian reality TV show called Music Farm. Her third album apparently is scheduled for this Spring. She told me that they will release my version of one of her songs which was supposed to be just a bunch of my guitars, a very funky bass (Jon recorded it in the backlounge of the bus during our last tour) and Dave’s percussion with her voice. I write supposed, because I while I asked for no synths or additional production to be added, you never know.