First structured practice session of the new year at Sage. Lofty, airy. 100 year-old Steinway with real ivory keys and a natural wood finish. I am so lucky and I am grateful to have this in my life.
My goal is to develop mastery with the TC Helicon voice and instrument processor pedal by May. It sounds far away, but it’ll sneak up quickly.
I’ll start with my song Pulses. My vision for this song is a bit different than how it is on the record. I want to make it a combination of Latin and boss’s nova harmonies with beatboxed percussion going through the TC Helicon. A mixture between Gal Costa & Caetano Veloso’s Baby and James Blake’s rocking style. Not as him as a rockstar, but literally, his music rocks / sways back and forth. Like dancing.
Notes on last night’s performance at Winnie’s: feeling proud. I set intentions during the day and listened to my favorite podcast on visualization while I was getting ready in the green room. I used to have conflicting feelings about gigs. I would treat them differently depending on the venues and repertoire. For example, I would care more about my original music than covers I was playing because I felt a stronger emotional connection to the music. This is all in line with my last blog post about interpreting others’ music. Since I started setting goals in the fall, I’ve been holding myself to a higher standard. Now, every performance is at the highest standard I can give. I imagine myself on stage at Carnegie Hall. When there are lights in front of my feet at the microphone, I imagine they’re the footlights onstage at Carnegie. I stand more still and am more deliberate with my gestures. I have been getting into dance recently. I imagined my vocals dancing in the rhythms and pitches. I think it was one of the best singing performances I’ve ever done. I wasn’t drinking. I think that helps – not so loose. I was on my own tip. A jib jab. If you know, you know. One of my favorite excerpts was a cover of Georgia On My Mind. I want to record this piece. I started it with more of a speech-singing approach with direct vocals that weren’t too “singy.” Honest, real. Not trying to be Ray Charles or others who have sung this song. It was my own. Then, in the B section going into the final A section, I opened up to a chest voice – and later asked Justin, my bandmate, what note that was – it was an E!! Yeah, baby. The technical key to replicating that kind of delivery is to tilt my held back to change the position of my larynx and to stretch far and open in the back of my head. For high notes in head voice (classical style), you stretch up and diagonally back. For high notes in chest voice, it’s a lower position in the back of your head, behind your ears. Most importantly, it’s all about feeling. Being with the music. This technical approach is to just be able to repeat it and to teach others how to do it, too.
Me and Ian Hutchinson (bass) at the gig last night.
Maria Callas, one of my favorite opera singers, and one of the greatest of all time, has a few videos up on YouTube where she’s interviewed about her process in getting into a role. The art of performing. EVERYTHING has a purpose. Every gesture. Every look. It’s acting. You know, Beyonce steps into a role onstage. She created a stage persona named Sascha Fierce. The idea is that your character is not the same as your performance and your voice or instrument. I take this in my daily life, too. Even walking down the street, I think about my posture, my arms, the distance between my steps. This attuned awareness informs the performance and also just who I am and want to be.
If you’re interested in Maria Callas’ interviews, start here
Ok, goals for today’s practice session:
Warm up on voice and piano – done
Play piano though Lovage (an original piece in development) and the intro to Franz Schubert’s Nacht und Traume – done
TC Helicon pedal —- my main goal, and I should not forget it by being distracted with so many other wonderful things. I need to figure out why my harmony settings change after shifting in and out of presets. This should not happen. Also, why does the stutter function not work properly? It stutters background noises and not my voice. I need to focus on loop and beatboxing practice for Pulses and addressing these two issues.
Alright, getting to it. L8r.