They Play Solitaire


3) Tunes, Surgically Removed

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Bobby introduced Nina to Michael at about the time when Napster was just becoming infamous.

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Nina: “I tried to send an mp3 in an email to somebody and it didn’t show-up there. After I tried a couple more times I called the email people and they said they weren’t allowed…” But she didn’t quite have their full attention. “It’s my own…”

Bobby looked up from what he was doing: “I wouldn’t have thought they could do that. Just put it in a folder and send the folder. If that doesn’t work, you can compress the folder. Let me know…” And then he added, “You could put it up on Napster…” Which was a new thing at the time. “Give it a unique name and just send whoever the name.”

Nina: “Does the name do anything?”

Bobby: “Not really. Invent something… You want them to only see your MP3 when they search.”

Nina: “That might be fun…” She nudged Bobby, who had gone back to what he was doing. “What do you know about mixing?” She had been thinking about what she could do with things she found in their jam recordings.

Bobby was listening, but he wasn’t all there. “Not much, but I know somebody who’s into that. I mean I don’t know him, but we’re in a class together…” He introduced her to Michael a few days later.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Nina told Michael that at their jams, some things are miked and some things are direct. It all just goes onto two uncompressed tracks, then compressed later; that they’ve looked at multi-track software; that she’s okay with straight recording in the multi-tracks, but that she doesn’t “get” the post production parametric EQ and acoustic effects and doesn’t want to bug Bobby about it.

Nina: “We don’t want to build anything up one track at a time or play on top of backing tracks, but I know we’d all be okay with individual over-dubs, after a jam was edited down…”

Michael: “There are ways to record multi-track at the same time.” The same time that they’re set up for just plain two track. “That can happen in the background while everybody’s doing their usual… Off their usual setup… If I just tap-in to wherever… Without interrupting what’s going on…”

They talked about loops:

Michael: “Some people won’t pull anything out to loop on the rhythm. I know it can sound robotic, but I use that. Rhythm likes loops.”

Nina: “No, even ‘robotic’ is okay, sometimes. The thing is, it always has to feel like a jam, whatever we’re doing… When we’re playing, we’re jamming.”

At this point they have listened to about an hour of raw two-track.

Michael: “Yeah, and what I’m hearing, nobody’s going off into their own virtuoso thing for its own sake.”

Nina: “…and no noodling around with nowhere to go.”

Michael: “Yeah.”

Nina: “Jack’s attitude… Sometimes, you’ll hear him say, ‘We just put gas in it and drive,’ but it’s always about everybody getting to do what they want to do and he gets everybody to work that way. If you came in and gave everybody their part in a few words, they would play your tune for you, but don’t ask them to take it again from the top, unless you’re absolutely sure they didn’t do everything they wanted the first time. Better to just work your part back around to the beginning and just let everybody find a new part of the groove back through all of it.”

Michael: “Will they listen to this mixed stuff?”

Nina: “Oh yeah. But no expectations.” She thought for a moment. “We can’t be too pushy.”

Michael: “Well, yeah. That’s how I want to be… Just jam… If I can get what I do into a jam… See, I can mix my percussion stuff with melodies and chord-forms and all that, from wherever, but I want to work it out with everybody playing at the same time… I can punch in my samples to the beat or set the beat.”

He was hoping to get invited.


Written by Kenny Mann

04/23/2006 at 7:00 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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