The Funky Drummer (v11)

I ended up re-recording the entire thing because of timing and sync issues. “Practice makes marginally better,” right? Heh. In addition, there is now a bridge, and the full structure is complete. There are two “holes” for solos, one for saxophone (to be played by my co-worker’s son, Armando), and one for either guitar or keyboard. I am very excited about recording Armando and seeing what he will contribute to this piece. But other than that, this piece is done-ish, probably with only minor tweaking and possible changes to the mix.

The Funky Drummer (v06)

A lot of work went into this version from the last one posted. I definitely need better horn sounds. NEED, I say!

The good news is that my office-mate’s son plays saxophone, and I invited them over for a recording session, and they accepted. I am looking forward to that very much and have no doubt that it will help bring this piece to life.

Back to the piece. I am satisfied with the all the rhythm instruments at this point. I may redo the piano because of problems keeping time in some places. Very happy with the guitars. The guitar on the left is very much like a James Brown rhythm guitar line you might hear in the left channel. The pattern repeats over and over, very faithfully, as do all or most of the parts in a James Brown composition. I actually played beginning to end though, and did not loop any of my playing, though there was editing to select material between different takes. I am super happy with the wah-wah guitar in the right channel. Exactly the sound I was going for. Actually it reminds me a bit of John McLaughlin’s sound on Miles’ Jack Johnson album. Just the sound – not the playing, duh.

I worked very hard on the horn arrangements, but I am definitely still building my chops in this area. I really need a good collection of horn virtual instruments.

The structure is by no means final. I haven’t decided what it will look like. I also feel guilty for not even having the hint of a “B” section. If I don’t give the piece more variety, it will be very difficult to hold the listener’s attention from beginning to end. But I remind myself that this started out as an exercise, and I am going to try to stay focused on the creation and not worry about the result. Yeah. Wish me luck with that. :)

The Funky Drummer (v01)

Alternatively titled:

How I am learning to play guitar.

Further alternatively titled:

The real secret to success in music.

For some time I have claimed to be a “Funkateer” in Bootsy lingo, or a student of The Funk. Well, in my studies, I have recently turned back very intensely to the Godfather of Soul, James Brown, his catalog being the “Written Torah” of funk. Yes, I have spent my mornings playing my unamplified electric guitar to James Brown and The J.B.s tracks, mostly from the early to mid 70s.

In so listening, my ears locked onto an eight-bar drum break in the track, The Funky Drummer. “How perfect for sampling and laying tracks over,” my mind quickly followed.

And so that’s what I did. I ripped the said eight bars of seminal Clyde Stubblefield funk drumming, punctuated by Brown’s own percussive exclamations.

So fascinated by the drumming on this piece was I that I felt compelled to research it, and found a surprising treasure trove of information concerning the very eight bars I sampled on Wikipedia. Turns out this is the number one most sampled piece of music. Ever. To the point where using it is now considered cliché in some circles. Not concerned with some circles, I remained undeterred in my own experimentations.

This morning I sat down to record guitar tracks (second attempt) over the looped sample and bass line I recorded with keys earlier. All I can say is that there is nothing more fun than making up funk guitar parts, learning them, and recording them. Even if I never “use” this for anything, the most important thing is being accomplished, that thing being fun.

And I think that’s a big secret behind music, especially FUNk music, that it should be a fun and joyous process during its realization. Sometimes it’s laborious, and a chore. Sometimes there are blockages. But even at the worst sessions, they were what they were, and we don’t know their actual significance in the Grand Scheme of things. I learn this from Zen. Every sitting is the first sitting. It’s unique and is what it is. No more, and no less. Ultimately that’s how I feel not only about the musical process, but the “end results.” Like everything else they stand on their own, above judgment, just being what they are. Music has a soul.

Why Do I Do It?

As I approach the milestone of turning 50, I find myself at a more reflective, and at the same time, more expressive stage of my life.

Originally I was posing the post’s question regarding my need to express myself through making music. But it’s not just the music. Why am I writing these words right now? Just spewing them out for anyone to read?

I am not sure I know the reason I need to be naked in front of the world. Maybe because I am finding my true nature, and it is simply the nature of one’s true nature to share.

Or not.

In the end, it doesn’t matter the reason. What matters is that I recognize this in myself, and I notice it.