Wednesday, March 02, 2011

54



Now


Then


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 suldog@aol.com , 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.


54 comments:

Cricket said...

A very happy birthday to you, my swell pal, and many more.

Off to listen...

Michelle H. said...

Very happy birthday!!! I don't play any instruments. I could hum a bar or two... or if you had lyrics I'd do my pathetically laughable best to sing chorus or something. Otherwise, I'll have to play live-studio audience and do more groupie screams during the bass line playing.

Quirkyloon said...

I'm warming up my rock opera voice right now, cuz you've never heard Highway to Hell like I SING it. *grin*

Happy Birthday! And here's hoping for at least 54 more! (Wait, that might not really be considered a good thing, especially if you've started using Depends, that's a long time to be in diapers. However, here's birthday tip for you: buy stock in Depends.)

*GRIN*

Deb said...

A very happy birthday to you Sully. Have a good one. This sounds like such a cool project, too bad I haven't played since I was a whole lot younger than I am now. Can't wait to hear the result.

Pam said...

Happy Birthday, Sully! I could do keyboard or a rusty clarinet. Rock on and have a great day!!!

notactuallygod said...

I'd like to jam with (or just jam) that chick who's willing to do a rusty trombone. Just give me your safe word and I'll try to remember it.

haphazardlife said...

Too bad I don't play any instruments. I could always sing, but I really really wouldn't want to people running from the room screaming.

- Jazz

haphazardlife said...

Oh, and HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!

- Jazz

The Good Cook said...

Happy Birthday.. if you don't mind I'll just him along.

Craig said...

Your soul has pansies? (Here's where I would normally make a wisecrack about how that explains a lot, but it's your birthday, so I won't. . .)

Oh, this sounds like fun. I've actually been involved in a similar attempt to layer-up an on-line jam session, and it didn't go so well. But I'm sure yours will go much better, because that's just the kind of guy you are.

I'd love to play along, but (a) I don't have any digital recording equipment, and (b) my ridiculous schedule doesn't come close to affording me the time to listen and sort thru your bass line, and work out something to play along. Besides, these days, my best instrument is probably the bass, anyway, so I'm screwed that way, too. . . (I could throw in a guitar line, but it would be something like a boring rhythm line; my leads aren't so good; or maybe I could get one of my guitar-playing sons to do something; but then, we're back to the lack of recording equipment) (Or a piano line, but I haven't played the piano much in several years, and I'd be pretty rusty. . .)

So maybe, next time I'm in Boston (which, alas, will be the first time I'm in Boston), we can get together and jam in person. . .

But, in the meantime - Happy Birthday! As my wife likes to say, I'm glad you were born!

"WE ARE THE WOOOOOORRRRLLLD!"

The Broad said...

Happy Birthday -- young man! The only jamming I can do (and I don't) is with fruit, sugar and boiling water -- however, I've sent this to my son all the way in Italy in the hopes that he'll do it in my stead.

Uncle Skip, said...

Happy Birthday, kid!
Washboard, jug, or kazoo are about my speed and I'm out of jugs and washboards. Besides, I have no recording equipment, as this computer has no mike. I did listen to the track you laid down. It was a swell birthday gift to us.

Snappy Di said...

Happy Birthday! *goes to get wax paper for her comb*

Sort of hokey, but the only instrument I have.

DI

Chris@Knucklehead! said...

I'll give it a shot, Sully. Your key choice does NOT make this an easy thing for us trumpet players, though. And I'll have to see about recording . . . I know my Blackberry has audio record, but the quality would undoubtedly suck.

Oh, and Happy Birthday, ya old fart.

messymimi said...

I wish you many happy returns of the day.

No, i will not subject you to a recording of my very inadequate piano playing or worse, my singing. No one deserves that, especially on his birthday.

Stu said...

What's the Tempo? I can't quite seem to nail it down. Maybe 127 bpm? 128?

Stu said...

126.5bpm. Nice.

Clare Dunn said...

I would dearly LOVE to join your 'band', BUT, I have no musical ability at all. None. Nada. Bupkis.

It kills me to crush your spirit this way. You may rejoice in this, however: I don't own a weasel.

So, all I can do is wish you the happiest of birthdays! And hope that you will have many more.

xoxoxo, clare

Buck said...

What a brilliant and creative ideer! I was debating whether to use instrument-challenged or instrument-free to describe my musical abilities but I'll leave the phraseology up to you: your choice. All I play is the stereo, but I'm damned good at it. Don't EVEN mention singing, coz I'll quote Leo Kottke on the subject: "My voice is like geese farts on a muggy day." Same here, only worse.

So anyhoo... HAPPY BIRTHDAY, you puppy!

Jeni said...

Hmmm. You'd have to deal with a video in order for me to record anything and that's debatable how well it would work since it would have to be me, playing my Hammond organ. Now to get the organ to turn on would require that I move it (not an easy task as it's a heavy piece of furniture) so I can plug it in and then, the only things I can play are hymns which would have you praying for mercy in 10 seconds flat! Oh well, I'll be waiting to hear the results of your orchestration anyway and hope you have a super fragelistic, fantastic 54th birthday!

Suldog said...

Stu (and anyone else who needs to know) - It's 129 beats per minute. Thanks for asking!

IT (aka Ivan Toblog) said...

Where can I get one of those garden weasels of malice? There are some pansies I'd like to shred.

But enough about my problems. Do you realize that if you aren't into your fourth year of AARP membership, you could be?

That '54' at the top of the post reminded me of the old Fred Gwynne and Joe E Ross TV show and now I won't be able to get rid of the theme song. I like your track much better. But don't even begin to ask me to replicate anything that even begins to sound like music.

Happy Birthday.

Daryl said...

You dont look a day over 53 ... I swear! Happy Birthday you old Suldog you!

Hilary said...

Happy Birthday, Jim. :) I'll see if I can get my son to teach me a thing or two for your birthday song. If not, will you accept his contribution?

Joan said...

Happy Birthday to you!!
No recording for me, sorry. :)
I will look forward to listening again.

Maggie May said...

Happy Birthday.
I could put some greaseproof paper over a comb! Not interested???? Well not to worry.
Have a happy time.
Maggie X

Nuts in May

Kat said...

Well crap. I don't play any instrument (anymore) so I'm just gonna be lame and with you a Happy Birthday. Well, I'll sing it! How's that?

Happy Birthday to you
You live in a zoo
You look like a monkey,
Aaaaaaaannnnndddd, you smell like one too!

HAHA!
Happy Birthday!

Boredom Blog said...

Well HAPPY BIRTHDAY to you Mr.!

I don't play any instruments, but I'd be happy to hum along if that's allowed :)

Moannie said...

Happy Birthday Jim XX I can't believe you were already two years old when I got married...geez...now I really feel old.

Used to sing like Doris, now it's more like Donald Duck...that reminds me-are you still a non-smoker?

Angela Christensen said...

Thesaurii?

A joyful happy birthday to you. If you want music, I'll send you a MadriGalz CD (if you email me your snail mail address) and you can listen to it at Christmas and imagine the Madz singing to you. When we perform we always do three-part harmony improv for birthdays and anniversaries. But as a second alto, or contralto, or whatever, I'm a sort of inside-part singer and nobody's soloist. I'm thinking the melody part inside my head, really really really loud: Happy, happy birthday, from all of us to you, we wish it was our birthday, so we could party, too - HEY! (That's actually from The Emperor's New Groove, but it's a good version.) Happy, happy!!

lime said...

well a very happy birthday! since i was at work and didn't have a chance to read blogs i didn't know until just now that it was your birthday. now i am really laughing my ass off about the email i sent you earlier...what a bizarre note it was on any day of the week but even more so today.

i haven't attempted to play my guitar in a year and a half and have no recording capability whatsoever so i can't really help in that way. if you are looking for album art though and you wanna swipe this i hereby give suldog permission to do so.

Red Hamster said...

Oh, I feel terrible that I was so busy yesterday that I didn't visit the internets and missed your birthday. Hope it was a rockin' day for you.

I'm totally not musical, but I can do a groupie scream like Michelle H.

SQUEEEE! HAPPY BELATED BIRTHDAY, SULDOG! YOU ARE SO HOT! CAN I HAVE YOUR BABY?!

Oh, wait, I carried away with the groupie thing there.......

Jayne said...

Sorry - I'll have to sing you a very happy belated birthday! (And I sang back-up in my brother's blues band, so believe me, I can do it.) Here you go (I'm playing the piano, too): !!!!!!!!!!!!. Did you hear it? I know, a little bit like Janice Joplin. ;)
Happy Birthday Suldog, baby. Rock on.

Chris@Knucklehead! said...

Okay, man, I've got a pretty snazzy horn line worked out, just gotta find a way to record it.

Sandra said...

Fifty-four? You're such a kid! Many you have many more happy, healthy years!

Jillsy Girl said...

Wherever you are and whatever you're doing, have a great time (but don't expect anything musical from me!).

and...HAPPY 54!

Shammickite said...

The only musical instrument that I can play with any flair is the radio, so I can't join into your jam session. But I'm singing HAPPY BIRTHDAY to you anyway.
Now all you have to do is remember MY birthday, BTW it's November 4th.
Every year. write it down.

Barbara Shallue said...

Dang it, Jim, how did your actual birthday slip up on me? I've backslidden(if that's a word) on everything lately, and would have missed this is Jillsy didn't send me an email. I have company and out of town plans and I'm not really good on the drums and don't know how to record them, but I really think I'm going to try this. What an awesome birthday wish. Hope you've had a wonderful day!

Anonymous said...

an excellent example of standing material. benefit, the author of a genius.

Rodell said...

Happy Birthday, Jim! Just had one myself. I'll contribute to the symphony with an armpit concerto.

Karen said...

If I played, I'd play, but Happy Birthday!

Chris@Knucklehead! said...

SUCCESS! I've e-mailed you the horn part. Good luck with it.

Oh, and I think the name of our band should be "The Garden Weasels of Malice."

Carolina said...

A VERY HAPPY BIRTHDAY (bit late, sorry). What a nifty idea for a birthday present.

Land of shimp said...

Happy Birthday, you wonderful, goofy man. May many more come your way.

I don't play an instrument, I'm afraid. I sing, but not well. I hum but only in a mediocre fashion. I'm no good at whistling either...

But man, can I bake. If you ever find yourself in need of someone to bake? I'm your gal.

Happy Birthday, Jim. Apparently I've got a garden weasel of malice running around here somewhere. I must find it and make it don funny clothes.

Carolina said...

I'm typing this with your funky bass line playing in the background. I like! And I'd love to be able to play the piano well enough to join in the jamming session. Unfortunately though...
But I'm looking forward to the final mix ;-)

(the computer ran out of petrol yesterday, so I didn't have time to listen then)

Jenn Flynn-Shon said...

I would love to play along but alas my technical skills for recording something to upload or download or reload are about as good as my drumming these days...sigh.

Maybe someday I'll figure out how to do it but for now I'll just go with

boom tick back, boom boom, ticktick backback, boom tick back, boom boom tickticktick backback

Repeat...free form fill...repeat

Jenn Flynn-Shon said...

Oh good gracious...

And of course

HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!

Kathryn Magendie said...

ungh - huhn? ungh


oh well

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU! :-D hunhn!

We are the same age - lawd. lawd. lawd.

*kiss and hug*

Ruth and Glen said...

Happy Belated Birthday Jim! Our musical talent is limited. I used to play the Glockenspiel in a marching band in my youth. Haven't seen or played one in 30+ years though. Glen said all he can contribute would be the air horn on the truck. LOL. Hope you enjoyed your day.

Anonymous said...

Happy Belated, Mr. Sully. I've been reading you (by way of MM) for several years now; I miss his blog terribly. (Though yours is almost a fitting replacement. Hee. Ehhh, different animals.) If you were to pass on the word, I wouldn't be averse. Best to you and YOUR WIFE! :-)

eileen said...

Happy (slightly belated) birthday!! And I love your birthday song idea...I must confess that I have much more of an ear for music than a talent for making it, but if I come up with something I'll send it along :)

Matt Conlon said...

... but there already is a song for birthdays...

Happy Birthday!

Actually, that wasn't a well wish, that was the name of the song that people sing to celebrate birthdays.

All seriousness aside, I hope you had a great day. Well done sir. Birthy Hapday.

She Writes said...

Ahhh, Now I understand! Happy Birthday!

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