Our second official meeting today, with the added intent of actually figuring out some music instead of just talking about it. Alex, Blaise, Tom and myself (Ben was ill) booked a studio and put our heads together to see what we could come up with musically. Based initially on some experiments that Ben had put together from audio samples I had provided, Alex set up a ProTools session that would loop this content so we could jam along in time and also record the proceedings. I chose to take on a percussion role, as Tom (piano) and Blaise (acoustic guitar) already had the melodic and harmonic side of things covered, and Tom had some musical ideas he wanted to try out.
The headphone send from the studio didn’t appear to be working unfortunately, so we abandoned the idea of playing along with a loop and purely improvised; as this was our first official session of playing together, it was more to get a feel for each others musical sensibilities. Tom had an interesting idea of superimposing a 6/4 motif in his left hand against a 5/4 in his right hand, which sounded great when it worked, though it took a while to settle in – Blaise attempted some hammer on techniques on guitar, while I attempted some syncopations and atmospherics on congas and cymbal. Sometimes this worked well, sometimes it almost fell apart, but as this is still early days I feel we’re only tentatively begin to feel each other out musically, so will withold any judgements for the moment!
Although not a total waste of effort, as there were good ideas that emerged in the recording, we probably spent unnecessary time setting up microphones and recording the proceedings – at this early stage, I feel we should concentrate more on idea generation in a musical sense and not so much on audio fidelity. I suggested upon hearing the playback of the session, that we each come up with a short musical phrase that we could extrapolate upon in the next session. I again reiterated that if this group is to be truly representative of the ‘soundscape’ aspect of the unit, we need to not only use parts of the university soundscape to manipulate, but we need to show the progression from that soundscape into the manipulated sounds, whether they be musical or otherwise – I believe this is key and fundamental to the project.
Tom has some musical ideas that I believe are quite valid, using repetitive motifs reminiscent of Terry Riley and Mike Oldfield, in C# dorian (relating back to the E major drone of the previous subgroup), which gives a nice, floating quality. I will attempt to come up with something similar this week in a related key and hopefully will be able to slot it into what we’re doing. Four weeks until presentation and counting…
A rough demo recording of todays session: