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Space

Discussion in 'Ask Steve Lawson & Michael Manring' started by stephanie, May 12, 2002.


  1. stephanie

    stephanie

    Nov 14, 2000
    Scranton, PA
    Hi Steve,

    This might sound like a silly question, but on my latest piece I've written I've noticed a lot of...well..space in it. Now, I unfortunately don't have a looper and I'm feeling this piece definately needs one. But at this moment is there anything I can do to make sure this song doesn't end up being boring?

    Let me describe: It's a pretty slow piece, Andante on the metronome, tempo about 95bpm. I play it with the feel I'm playing a cello. Lot's of slides and expression. Quite possibly ad-libbing the first part b/c I can't really pinpoint an exact tempo. Now the problem is that I would play a few notes or whatever and then...silence. Too much space btw. one set of notes and then another. I've tried filling in the space with more notes but then when I play the song I feel there's too many notes. I have just the right amount of notes, I feel and don't think that is the problem. But it comes out boring. I like what I've written, but I just can't figure out what's missing from it.

    Any suggestions?

    Thanks, :)
    Stephanie
     
  2. if you don't have a looping pedal or rackmount device, try using Sonic Foundry's ACID, with SoundForge to chop up recorded basslines into loopable chunks- I use it a lot. it's a great compositional tool as well for song arrangement.
     
  3. Steve Lawson

    Steve Lawson Solo Bass Exploration! Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2000
    Birmingham, UK
    Hi Steph,

    Can I state right from the outset that space is good. silence is good - there's nowhere near enough of it in music, not enough of it in my music, not enough of it in life.

    So I'll start by saying that silence isn't your problem. If the tune is dull to you at the moment, it doesn't mean that the answer is to write more notes. Perhaps the answer is to do with phrasing, tone and dynamics. Is there any sense of the piece having a dialogue with itself? do alternate lines answer each other? if so, try playing it like a conversation, where the gaps aren't 'in time' but are more like breathing space round what's being said - one way to get this effect is to write words for it - not so that you can sing it, but so that you can phrase it in your head like that, to bring out the intent...

    work with it, and avoid the temptation to add more notes just to fill space - if the tune needs more notes, fine, but make sure that's what it is!

    have fun

    steve
    www.steve-lawson.co.uk
    www.pillowmountainrecords.co.uk
     
  4. wulf

    wulf

    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    It could be that the sections of your song are self-contained. When they end, it sounds like the song is over. Full stop.

    Instead, could you try to make the section end on a question?

    That would keep them listening, at least until the next 'paragraph' ;) Never underestimate the power of anticip.....

    ...ation.

    Exploit the range of sounds you can create on your bass; if you've got some effects, it might be an opportunity to explore some of the sounds you can create with those. Or how about using one of your strings as an open drone, assuming you can get some good sustain out of your set up.

    Lot's of p o s s i b i l i t i e s . . .

    Wulf
     
  5. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    UK
    That's a great analogy, if it is an analogy?
    A great concept then!?!

    I have a simelar type of problem when I record a bass loop on the PC. I find that some spaces just dont want to be filled and I end up with this loop, but don't know where to go with it?!

    I've had a loop I've been toying with for a month or so and, using the question/answer analogy, a few days ago came up with the answer to it's question. A sort of second phrase that resolves the first.

    Now I'm trying to figure out what on Earth to do with it next? :confused:

    I agree fully tho, space in the right place is ace ;)
     
  6. "FSU" ;)

    Break it into chunks, randomise them, play some backwards against others (retrograde inversion?), apply an insane amount of reverb to a backwards section but save none of the "dry" signal then mix that with a different line, apply a really harsh filter with the envelope dictated by the output of some other part, then feed the whole result through the BUZZ MACHINE and shred the whole lot with wicked amounts of distortion etc.

    Then use that as a rhythm track and re-layer the original.

    ...

    Sorry, got carried away there. :D

    Erm. Happy composing.
    Mike
     
  7. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    UK
    Let The Experimentation Commence!

    :)
     
  8. stephanie

    stephanie

    Nov 14, 2000
    Scranton, PA
    Thank you all for the replies. :)

    First, the only reason why I do not have a looper (or any other effects devices) is because I cannot afford it all right now. So it's just me, my bass, and my amp.

    My teacher has been helping me these past few weeks with this song. We've broken the song down into sections. This is helping me look at the song better, the problems with it. Steve, I'm beginning to understand what you mean that it is not the need to add more notes. It's just a matter now of figuring out what is missing. Like I've said, I don't feel the need to add anymore notes. And I like the notes I use. I'll keep playing it over and over and listening back to it recorded.

    Thanks again,
    Stephanie
     
  9. Steve Lawson

    Steve Lawson Solo Bass Exploration! Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2000
    Birmingham, UK
  10. stephanie

    stephanie

    Nov 14, 2000
    Scranton, PA
    Hi Steve,

    Well, this is making me think back to a time when I took a short-story writing course. My professor was always telling me about problems I had with transitions, having one paragraph flow into the other, etc. I am seeing this same problem with this piece. I'm trying to figure out a way to make one section of the song flow into the other.

    Here's something for my inspiration: my teacher's last lesson with me is Monday :)() and he gave me Beethoven's Sonatina to learn. (Hehe he wants me to give him a 'recital' Monday :D). He says this will help me b/c it's similar to what I seem to like to write. The Sonatina is broken up into sections (even a key change). They perfectly flow into one another. All the notes are pefect. There's not really that space like my piece, but there is space in the choice of rhythm (ike a quarter-note tied to an eight-note --in 6/8 time).

    Well, I'm babbling... :D

    Cheers,
    Stephanie
     
  11. Steve Lawson

    Steve Lawson Solo Bass Exploration! Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2000
    Birmingham, UK
    Hi Steph,

    That's a big area of music - the transitional thing. There are various ways to think about it. The question and answer thing that we've already touched on, working in a much bigger form, so it's not just single phrases working like that, but whole sections. You can look to contrast one section with another - change key, alter the rhythm, switch to a different technique to change your tone... It helps to have a couple of chords in between the two sections in order to set up the harmony of the second section - depending on where you're going from and to, playing the ii and V chords of the key that you're moving into can help to ease the transition, especially if they are somehow related to the key that you're in for the first section.

    Another option is to employ the element of surprise and intentionally make them not fit! :oops:) just play the sections over and over to yourself, until it sounds like it works to you, so that when you perform it, you'll play it with conviction...

    another way is to treat the song in a 'theme and variations' kind of way, where you take the original material and work with it in a new way - moving to a new key, modulating modally (ie working out what the scale degrees are in relation to a set root, and then moving that same sequence to a different mode in the same key) changing the rhythm (ballad to uptempo 6/8, or whatever) change from major to minor... the possibilities are endless, but then I guess, that's the problem... :oops:)

    good luck!

    Steve
    www.steve-lawson.co.uk
     
  12. stephanie

    stephanie

    Nov 14, 2000
    Scranton, PA
    I'm beginning to see the light. At my lesson, we were going over the Beethoven Sonatina and he started talking about the sections in it and then he goes on about the sections being like paragraphs and that one phrase answers the question of a phrase before it and all I can think about was this thread and I'm really clearly beginning to understand what you guys are talking about.

    I was telling my teacher about how I'm feeling about the piece and he says what I may need is the use of dynamics as well. It's an expressive piece and I should make it that way.

    So I'm pretty sure this is going to come along fine. :)

    Cheers,
    Stephanie