Working with Grammy Award Winning Artist, J. Hoard

J Hoard won a damn Grammy last night for his songwriting contributions on Chance The Rapper’s “No Problem”. As Anderson .Paak would say “YESS LAWWD”

A few weeks ago, I worked on this track with J Hoard called “Sirens”. It’s a politically minded tune that’s right for a time when I launch into a cold sweat anytime I get a Washington Post breaking news alert on my phone.

Here’s the track called “Sirens”

Talk Modern – “Not Enough”

I flew to Portland last November to record a few tracks for Talk Modern. I was lugging a cymbal case through the PDX airport when I saw it. A Stumptown Coffee — in the damn airport. Portland is a land of wonder.

Josh and Nic – the duo comprising Talk Modern- are wonderful guys. I tracked the drums for “Not Enough” in the same warehouse we recorded the video. No plug-in can imitate the natural reverb in that room.

After 48 quick hours in Portland we had two songs and two music videos in the bank (we lost count of the number of breakfast sandwiches we consumed). Here’s the first one -“Not Enough”

“Secrets” & Satellite Mode

Satellite Mode are workhorses. Last December, I took a jaunt to New York to meet up with them. I nearly OD’d on Dunkin Donuts and pizza, but survived long enough to play music with Alex + Jess, who comprise the band.

When they’re not tweaking songs, they’re writing new ones, or planning a release for the finished song.

Warm Fire Lightening” hit #5 on Hypem a few weeks back. Here’s hoping their new track, “Secrets” (which came out today)  climbs even higher.

I tracked drums for this one last year, and am stoked its out! The production crew backing Satellite Mode – Gregory and Andy Seltzer – are super nice guys, and immensely talented.

Tone City: Snares In A Massive Warehouse

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I spend a lot of time in Ableton. I manipulate plugins to get some bit of MIDI data to sound like the raw, visceral crack of a snare drum in a warehouse.

Well I finally got a chance to hear what that real crack sounds like.

I did some session work for the homies of Talk Modern, a pop duo based in Portland. Duddy, a rad guy and LA-based producer, was behind the boards and was a pleasure to work with.

The Portland trifecta is drumming, eating breakfast sandos, and drinking far too much coffee. Feeling blessed to hit the trifecta. Here’s some video of the warehouse.

“Nights” and my unhealthy obsession with Frank Ocean

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I don’t know how many times I’ve listened to Blond(e). There are so many gems on the album it’s hard not to parse through it again and again, mining for gems.

“Nights” is a particularly juicy track. It feels like three different songs all originating from the same idea. I really dug the second movement ( if I can call it that) of the song from 1:40 – 2:37.

The beat in that section recalls a classic hip hop beat you might hear on a mid-tempo Gangstarr track, but is much more complex. The bass drum pattern switches from riding shotgun with Frank’s lyrical inflections, to jumping in on a chord change, and at it time does both.

I transcribed the beat and took a crack at it. Here’s the video + transcription.

Have the score played for you here

nightstranscription

 

“Central”

Write one melody, scrap the other. Realize the new one warrants a new chord progression. Realize that chord progression doesn’t fit with the current song. Start a new song. Repeat.

That was my process for writing this song. I’m excited and relieved it’s out on the interwebs for your viewing and listening pleasure.

It’s a mathy one. Some parts are in 13/4 (3, 3, 4, 3). The outro is in 7/4. I didn’t intend to write in eye-rolling time signatures. I just dug the space between beats, and the room it afforded the melody.

Here’s the video of me playing through + the actual track (available for free download) on Soundcloud.


 

 

Subbing In With Hazel English

I had the pleasure of filling in on drums for my homie, Liam O’Neil, with Hazel English. Not only is the band comprised of the sweetest people, but their tunes ear candy. Here’s a video from the gig.

 
Thanks to the Hazel English crew for having me!

Post-show band pic. Shout out to @kylekellyyahner who filled in on drums and did a killer job 👏

A photo posted by Hazel English (@hazelenglishmusic) on Jun 6, 2016 at 2:57pm PDT

 

How To Play “Burn The Witch”

Burn The Witch

Radiohead disappeared from the interwebs Sunday, only to come back with a vengeance on Tuesday when they dropped “Burn The Witch” inducing mass hysteria.

I am not above the hysteria. I am enamored with this song.

Chalk it up to Greenwood’s minimalist orchestration, his collection of analog drum samples, or the peaks and valleys of Yorke’s crooning. I won’t be able to pick one. But, I did pick out the drum part and some samples that sound close(ish) to whatever black magic Greenwood is using.

The Samples

I used all analog synth and drum machine samples for the beat. Download them here.

  • Snare – Roland TR606
  • Kick – Jomox Xbase 09
  • Hi Hat – Teenage Engineering OP-1

 

The Beat

Here’s the beat by itself and the transcription.

BurnTheWitch

The Play Through

Here’s the play through. LP9 can’t get here fast enough.

Elvin’s Sextuplets

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The Sextuplet Effect

I’m working on a post showing how Elvin Jones, Roy Haynes, and Art Blakey all use triplets differently, each in their own signature way. Elvin happens to have a rather large signature.

I was listening to a standard, “Dear John C” and one fill stood out to me. Elvin laces a tight grouping of notes together to propel his brother, Hank Jones, into a piano solo. If Elvin’s fill is full of spice, Hank’s laid back entry into a solo extinguishes Elvin’s spice in a refreshing way. It’s a small moment, but one to savor.

Elvin’s fill uses sextuplets as opposed to his signature triplets. The sextuplet fill has the same swing style of phrasing (obviously, it’s jazz). But, the amount of notes Elvin fits into two measures with such dexterity and feel is worth noting. Without picking it out, you might miss it.
 
Here’s the 4 bar phrase. Elvin comps for 2 bars and then fills for 2 bars

 
Here’s the transcription. I recommend playing this at 80, super slow, before going up to warp speed at the true tempo – 195.

JohnC

Elvin’s average fill is still jam packed with wisdom.

Questions, comments, or critique on the transcription – let me know on Twitter