I want you to play a song with me.
For my BIRTHDAY, people. I'm asking you to play a song with me for my BIRTHDAY. Come on! Can you really find it in your heart to deny a simple birthday wish? You don't really want to crush my spirit, do you? Are you willing to shred the pansies of my soul with your garden weasel of malice?
I suppose, if you hadn't figured it out already, I should tell you that today is my birthday. I've been on this planet, in one form or another, for 54 years. I don't quite know how I've lasted as long as I have. I've done almost everything wrong and probably should have been dead ages ago. However, given the general longevity on one side of my family, I might only be halfway done, and since the way I lived the first 54 years got me to this point, I don't think it would be wise for me to radically change my approach. As they say, wherever you go, there you are, and I certainly am.
The first way you could choose to react to this post would be to wish me a Happy Birthday. That's always nice, and I'd certainly be hard pressed to be mad at you if you only did that. What I would prefer, however, in the way of reactions, is for you to allow yourself to become amenable to my blandishments. If I could inveigle you...
(Way to go, Jim. Instead of making it easy on people, you send them scurrying for dictionaries and thesauruses. You like to think you're a farceur, but you're just an addlepate.)
All seriousness aside, what I would prefer for my birthday is for you to grab your axe and finger it, strum it, stroke it, blow it, or whatever else sounds filthy but isn't because we're talking about things like trombones and organs, and not those sorts of organs.
In other words, if you play an instrument, you're invited to the my virtual birthday jam session.
Here's how it will work. I have recorded a bass line, with some backing mechanical drums - a "click" track, basically - and your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to take that bass line, listen to it, then add your own instrumentation.
Simple as pie (or even birthday cake!)
It's not an extremely complicated bass line, if that's worrying you. I came up with it about three or four weeks ago, and it's been stuck in my head ever since. I think it's catchy, funky, fun, and we should be able to build it into something truly interesting. I'll even give you a head start: It's mostly in B minor, then chord change up to D, back to B, up to D, back to B, then G, then F#, G again, then A, G, F#, D, and repeat until weary.
(I promise, it sounds more complicated than it actually is.)
Of course, for this to work, you have to be able to record yourself playing your instrument and then send the result to me. Once I get submissions from all of you who are willing to play along, I'll mix down all of the various parts and create the finished song.
You can play a lead, a solo, or just give us all some solid rhythm. Heck, if you want to try and play the exact line I've laid down, you can. It's entirely up to you. Give me as much of anything as you want. I'll decide which parts I like and how much of your playing gets included in the final product. I guarantee that everybody who plays along with this will have at least some part of their playing show up in whatever gets posted here later. If the ideas are disparate enough, maybe I'll even put together two or three different songs.
So, first things first. Here's the bass line...
Experiment In B
You should be able to listen to it there, and also download it as an MP3.
(Some notes on the production values, such as they are. I recorded it yesterday morning, one take, fiddled with it a bit for volume levels, did some equalizing and hard limiting, put a fadeout on the end, and that's about it. Those of you with perfect pitch - bastards! - may find it slightly sharp or flat. Close enough for government work, as they say. So, if you don't get a perfectly clean recording of your own instrument, I won't be over to shoot you or anything. This is music we're making, and it does not have to be perfect. It only has to be lovable. It runs a bit under six minutes, and you can play with as much or as little of it as you desire. As for the fade, don't worry about fading your own stuff. I only put it there so you'd know when it was ending. The breakdown of the segments, which you'll understand more fully when you listen to it, is as follows:
4 repetitions in B - the other part - 4 reps - other part - 12 reps [a longer soloing opportunity] - other part - 8 reps - other part - 5 reps fading out.)
If you find that you can't download it, but you still want to do this with me, then drop me a line, at firstname.lastname@example.org , and ask me to send you the mp3. I'll gladly do so.
Once you have the mp3, figure out what you'd like to play. Just noodle around, if you want. Or get all serious and write yourself a chart. It's entirely your choice. And take it in whatever direction you desire: funk, metal, jazz, or anything else that provides buoyancy to your watercraft.
I would prefer it if you could record your instrumentation alone, without the backing track showing up within it, but I realize that may not be entirely possible for some of you to do. Some of you will have to have the bass/drum track playing in such a way that it will bleed into the recording of your instrument. If so, that's fine. I'll probably make it work. I'd rather you did that than not play at all.
Once you're happy with your recording, send me an mp3 of it. I'll do the rest. You have until 5pm eastern, Tuesday the 8th, at which time I'll begin mixing whatever I've received.
(If you play drums or percussion, PLEASE don't be put off by the mechanical drums that are already included. It would be tres cool if you gave me your beats. I don't want sampling, though. This is an experiment in "live" playing, not studio engineering technique. However, if you play the bass... well, it's my birthday. I get to be the only bass player. Sorry!)
If you think you might like to do this, but you're not sure about something, ASK. I'll be happy to answer any questions sent before 5pm today, March 2nd. I'll be off-line following that, until Tuesday the 8th. Questions I encounter on the 8th will be answered, too, but probably not in any way that will prove useful.
So, there you go. Those are the two ways you could react to this being my birthday. I hope some of you will choose option two and play with me.
(I guess there's one more way for you to react, and that would be for you to tell me to go and f... No, I'm willing to bet you're not the type of person who tells someone that on their birthday, so forget I mentioned it.)
Soon, with your better stuff.