005 Making My Own Music – Sleepy

Making My Own Music

In this episode, I talk about my composition “Sleepy” composed for a jazz combo in 1991 .

I thank a woman from Argentina calling herself Nightlock for @mentioning me on twitter. @ItsAboutJobros tweeted to her followers about how she liked my Rue’s Whistle song on my Youtube channel.

I then talk about 4 types of minor scales:

  • Natural minor
  • Harmonic minor – raised 7th
  • Melodic minor – raised 6th and 7th up, but natural minor down
  • Dorian minor – raised 6th. Sleepy uses only Dorian scales.

Sleepy is a laid back song. The title refers to the state of most college students.

The chord progression is:

  • D Dorian – 8 measures
  • C Dorian – 4 measures
  • D Dorian – 4 measures

The melody in a jazz combo piece is called the “Head.” It was originally performed with an alto sax and trumpet, but on this recording I used 2 alto saxes (I play both parts).

The first 2 lines are unison, and the third and fourth lines are in harmony – the two parts play a third away from each other.

Normal form of jazz combo music:

  • Play the head
  • Someone improvises a solo
  • Someone else improvises a solos
  • and so on until everyone who was going to solo has soloed
  • Play the head again
  • End

Usually the horns improvise first (saxes, trumpets and trombones). Then if the piano is going to solo, it does. Then if the bass is going to solo, it does, although this is  more rare. If the drummer is going to solo, it usually does last, but it usually “trades” measures with the other soloists.

This recording is 3 minutes, 3 seconds long. In this recording:

  • the head is 1st time through progression (30 seconds)
  • sax solo is 3 times through the progression (1 1/2 minutes)
  • bass solo once through the progression (starts at 2 minute mark, lasts 30 seconds)
  • head – once through progression
  • slight chord change at the very end – ends on Bb maj13#11

How did I record this:

  • Sequenced drums – hi hat, ride cymbal
  • Sequenced a walking bass line
  • Recorded a piano part – using same open chords used in Funk from episode 4
  • Edited the above parts MIDI until they were good enough
  • Recorded 1 part at time: played the MIDI and recorded the audio onto the computer
  • Took computer, interface device (Steinberg CI2), microphone, mic stand into basement, headphones. Played the recording of drums, bass, and piano, and recorded the sax lead part – for beginning and end
  • Then played the sax harmony part – for beginning and end
  • Then I improvised sax solos – took a number of takes, and used one I was happy with
  • I finished by adding snare drum and a couple of cymbal crashes and the bass solo

I then play Sleepy.

I went to a choir concert this week. One piece was composed by a student, and it got me excited about choral music. I arranged a song called V’Shamru for 4 singers or 4-part choir.  (The words are an excerpt from the book of Exodus about keeping holy the Sabbath day, and the original music was composed by Debbie Friedman.) I may be able to get 4 singers and record that for an upcoming episode.

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