Takeaway: take your time!!!
I did a run-through of the live set for my roommates. It was helpful to have a concert from start to finish with a live audience and feedback:
More relaxed, authentic, less artificial. Had fun. Take the mic out of the stand.
Pick three songs to show my story – Mignon, Pulses, Reverse. Personal experience to let the audience connect.
Use the microphone as a dance partner.
Quicker transitions between songs.
Just You – add later in the set to group guitar with the other songs.
Make the beat ready, then introduce the name of the song, then start singing.
Normalize the instrument levels for all of the songs.
Add more fx with the voice – use options on the TC Helicon. More reverb.
Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You – make sure all bass parts are in tune (not transposed – was there a global setting from Pulses that applied to the entire bass track)? Practice when to come in with the vocals so I sync up with the clip. Should I make a transition between each part of the arrangement?
Mignon – loop and overdub the chorus – sing over it.
Morning – strum with fingers, not pick. More tender to match the vocals and lyrics.
Angel – ending – analyze the best way to end it.
Apollo – people really like this one. Go directly from A to B – don’t bring it back to A to repeat the arrangement. It kills the energy. Check the tuning in the bass in the lowest note of the B section – sounds sharp.
Get stems for Just Get Here – Elkin + Alarke – play in the Alarke set.
Sing into the microphone! Maybe take the microphone out of the stand and carry over to the gear.
Good to step back from the microphone and dance. Move more. Move my body while doing the electronics. Animate the DJ element. Reggie Watts.
All fx – launch bass and drums together.
Synth: delay & filter sweep
Stand closer to my table of gear so I don’t have to go far away from the mic.
Stay bouncy in my body and dance with the music even when I’m not singing.
Use more vocal effects on the TC Helicon.
Be more elegant. Being elegant never hurt anyone.
Studio session. Friday morning. So many ideas and goals. Gypsy jazz gig tonight with Tim at Le Fanfare. Alarke show on Monday at Pianos. 10am meeting tomorrow (Saturday) with Kirk (my mentor / president of Avatar Studios). I need to ask him for help in creating a schedule that I can actually do this coming week. I know this, but I need to understand through experience that baby steps are necessary and that I cannot get too ambitious within a short period of time. I need to strategizeeeeee.
Pianos show prep – can I use Touchable to see the Ableton set so I don’t have to use the computer? At the same time, I could use the iPad to document the performance. BUT – the most important thing is to have a good live show. Why use the iPad to document the show when I could use it to make an ever btter show to document?
Saturday run-through for Gisela – set up table top on the music stand. Check tonight to make sure I have the base of the stand. Time the set. Videotape it. Look into stand carrying cases online. Gig bags for all gear!
– tabletop for gear
– tape controllers to read what instrument their knobs correspond to
– stems for Just Get Here
– getting the NanoKontrol to sync with Ableton – it was syncing before and now it is not
– guitar for Just You, Morning
– play guitar at the Gypsy jazz gig tonight at Le Fanfare to get warmed up. Play with dynamics.
– need more dedicated practice time!!!!
– guitar on Just You – audio is not coming through. Why? Do I need this or will I play guitar? Need to get a guitar stand.
– Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You – TC Helicon harmony volume. Using this instrument is a strength. USE IT WELL!! Singing – my strength, over Ableton.
– normalize volume of all tracks. Reverse is louder than others.
– bass for Pulses
Last night I felt inspired to paint. It’s been since the summer since I last brought out my paints. I got a few sheets of framed glass and I’m going to use them to layer colored pointilism paintings. I started with variations in red textures, colors, and shapes. The meaning behind the song Pulses. It all goes together. I’m going to layer the glass sheets and add a backlit light to illuminate them. Maybe also reflect tiny little mirrored glass behind them. I’m inspired to create visual art again.
Now sitting down at the spacious studio with the Steinway and light streaming in through the huge loft windows. Going to practice Pulses again. I booked two Alarke shows in March – March 13 at Pianos and March 24 at Connolly’s. I also am going to record this on video on February 23. It’s time to get this up in action. Fluent under my fingertips where I can sing and play without looking at the music. Starting now. Go!
Update: developed a climbing prechorus for “I cried I love you / into this light / my words burst into / stars in the night” and rolled interludes. Working on getting smoother, more comfortable transitioning between chords.
Next step: continue working on the transitions and getting it under my fingers. Work on vocals with the piano. Then add the TC Helicon vocal harmonies.
Friday morning at the ever-spacious Sage Music studio and this 100-year old glorious Steinway with real ivory keys. The beauty of the keys – I never actually thought until now how they’ve been alive. Growing. On tusks. I mean, I knew, but I am forever seeing things in new perspectives.
I’m going to move Pulses down from the key of E to C or D. I think it will resonate better in my voice and make it easier for others to sing along to the song. I feel eager to find it – but I know that I should take my time and try out both keys instead of making a rushed decision. I just want to get it and move on. However, learning it in both keys will make me a better pianist anyways. I was also considering C#/Db, inspired by Antony and the Johnson’s Bird Gerhl, but it’s trickier to play (so many sharps/flats), which I can do, but it’s harder to link with other musicians and play right away. It’ll take a bit longer for people to get the song under their fingertips. Maybe. For the best musicians, no. But I want to keep options open.
Tried both C and D. Going to stick with C. Video shoot in three weeks. I’m going to practice this piece so I could do it in my sleep. Play it like no one’s business with keys and the TC Helicon vocal fx.
Video idea – start in black and white. The lyrics are about pale colors. Open up to color on “shatter horizons, observe the sight / come to awaken vision so bright.” Then do crazy fx and collages for the chorus.
Feeling inspired by this performance of Bird Gerhl by Antony and the Johnsons: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KNK6ycMm1YU
Antony changed her name – she’s now Ahnoni. I admire her so much for her courageousness in her representation of her transgender identity and with her openness in her music. I want to be like her, with her amazing music and visual art: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anohni. I’m also sometimes feeling bad that I’ve lost time for myself. I’m not the young teenager pop star. I never really wanted to be that, anyways. It’s comforting to know, however, that Ahnoni garnered first critical acclaim at age 34. Makes me feel more confident that time IS on my side and age is a number. IT’s more about mentality.
Ok. Pulses work now. I had written this song in a Gypsy caravan in France and in artist studios in London and Paris. It’s written for guitar and electronics, but I just love the piano and want to play so something with triggering beats, playing piano, and doing vocal harmonies a la James Blake. Yesterday, I cleaned up the chart I had written for it so it makes sense more. I understand theory more when I spell it out on piano, rather than on guitar. It’s easier to count intervals and visualize relationships between chords. Piano’s my first instrument and I love it. Sometimes I regret spending so much time these last few years working with guitar, but time is not lost. I’ve learned so many beautiful jazz harmonies and chord progressions that I can now take with me to the piano.
Today’s studio goal is to work through the piano part more. I scheduled a video shoot with Kwesi Peters (amazing and generous NYC-based videographer) for the end of the month, so this will give me an impetus to focus on this song. Sometimes I get overwhelmed with what to focus on. This will give me a goal to work towards.
Getting the chords in my hands – play them with my eyes closed.
Did it. Pulses on the keys is becoming a part of me. Working on piano. One piece at a time, not getting overwhelmed by trying to do everything at once. Feeling amazing. I love piano.