Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Garnet Film (Live Looping)

Garnet Film is the fourth song on Symmetria. This is the live looping arrangement of the song. Before recording Symmetria, I had not yet begun to practice the art of live looping, but when all the tracking was complete, I thought about how the material on the record could be performed live. The songs on Symmetria often have two to five bass parts on them and it seemed extraneous and unrealistic to have to hire multiple bassists for each show, especially since I had played all the parts on the record, looping seemed a logical solution. After beginning to arrange some of the songs off Symmetria, I realized that they lent themselves very well to the looping art. Of course, some changes to the recorded versions were necessary when arranging the live looping versions. This was actually a positive thing. Often, the changes came as a total delight as I found myself creating new transitional sections or soloing for more extended periods of time. Another consideration for putting a live show together was the logistical limitations of large amounts of equipment. The three instruments in this video (guitar, upright bass, dobro bass) are the three that I seem to have settled down with for my live show. I may at some point add a microphone and various percussion instruments (as seen in the Magnetic Domain video) but as my goal is to play out more and get some opener slots, I need to be more streamlined in my approach to playing live. This is also influenced, partly, by my upcoming performance at the Y2K 2009 Looping Festival in Santa Cruz (mid-October) where the set up & break down times are very limited. The streamlining of my live show (and, indeed, a large impetus to loop in the first place) was also greatly influenced by solo bassist/looping master (and cofounder of the Y2K Looping Festival) Steve Lawson. His suggestion to me was to use guitar and standup bass first and see how much was possible with just the two. Steve's suggestion set me thinking about what the most versatile, yet small, ensemble would be. First off the upright is the biggest obstacle (literally) I am in the process of working with master luthier Matt Bohn on taking a 5/8 size upright and converting it to a bolt on neck and then having the world renowned Rick Turner install one of his patented bass pickup systems. The Dobro bass is the instrument I chose to serve as an electric bass (for harmonics, chords, ect.) plus I can use it for slide playing, which is featured on the Garnet Film Video. The guitar is pretty self explanatory, perfect for the jazzier songs where I need accompaniment that occupies a small sonic space, yet contains a bass line and cluster chords. Bass music is tricky, it's not the most natural thing in the world, one has to arrange things so the bass is brought out (it's SO easy to cover up) and I find that guitar stays out of the way, sonically, fairly naturally. That's the basic logic behind the instrumentation on this video. It's the ensemble that I'm also composing new music for, so the next record (whenever that will be!) will be somewhat more succinct between the transition from studio creation to live show.