Walking in the subway sometimes I try to walk in the same time as other people’s echoey steps and if I get that down then I try to walk in-between their steps. They the 4tr note, me the 8th note. It isn’t as easy as I expect it to be. Next I try to walk in triplets with the stranger being the 1. This means extra attention to not make my weirdness obvious. Lots of people have ear buds and I am one more of them but I’m paranoid. Had friends lose their hearing or get tinnitus or hearing aids. I don’t know what to do except practice finding silence and not turn up the volume of ear buds. I saw an art show one time at harbourfront that truly blew my mind and ears. 5 or 6 video monitors each representing a different singer, all performing a score that the conductor created from bird sounds. She studied and encoded gestures, organizing them into patterns or randomness. I thought this work would become huge but now, moe than 10 years after, I don’t think it traveled very far. She was from Estonia, her name was Kulli Kaats. I had a dream recently with new musical ideas in it and when I woke up I thought about those sounds. Tried to decide, in my conscious state, whether it was something to go learn on the piano or just something unique to the dream state. I learned it, it felt like a spooky present from a mystery origin but is there anything to our lives besides our experience of ourselves? So then just a present from me to me.
There is an old story, sufi story I think, about a frog that gives a scorpion a ride on its back, to cross a body of water, but not until the scorpion assures the frog it won’t hurt it. Once they arrive the scorpion stings the frog and while dying the frog asks why did you do that and the scorpion says, I can’t help it, it’s my nature.
I’ve recorded more than one singer songwriter who didn’t understand time or how to reliably play in time. I’m not very interested in explaining time to someone who doesn’t get it, plus they can’t instantly fix themselves. Trying to get them to follow a metronome or click track, if they can, also distracts from them being present with their lyrics, which, for me, is much more important. Makes more sense for me to be the one adjusting to their sense of time, plus I don’t mind the musicianship challenge.
Some musicians understand right away and accommodate. Others get pissed off and pontificate about how they are so much better than this and they would never have left any part of a recording with any time questions, pushing or pulling. They can’t stop their own complaining even though I hired them, they can’t help it. Doesn’t occur to them I won’t be calling them again.
When I think about songs that punch me in the brain and position me to follow them, wherever they lead, Stevie Wonder wins the gold. Sitting somewhere at York University and suddenly “I Wish” came over the speakers and it hit me how amazing that opening is – every time. Too many others,
Boogie On Reggae Woman
Don’t You Worry About A Thing
Living For The City
All Day Sucker…………on and on
If the people who teach music in colleges and universities were smart they would offer a course called Infectious Openings and Mr. Wonder.