What has just concluded is probably the most enjoyable and productive holiday season I can remember. My new year and my new decade are looking promising, largely due to the forming of multiple musical ensembles with which I’ve become involved. These collaborations are expected to provide performance opportunities as well as new records.
The order of the day for the foreseeable future will be the creation of charts of my material and learning a whole lot of new songs. The charts are the fastest way to communicate music to other players and I’m lucky enough to be working with musicians who can actually read music. It saves time and relieves the pressure to memorize so much material at the beginning. It can be painstaking work to create sheet music for your own stuff, especially for me, because I played and sang everything on the recordings. It’s always a judgement call when trying to determine how much of my own interpretation should be on the page, and how much should be left to the discretion of the player.
I’ve written charts before, but never any that included vocal parts. My music requires backing vocals, so I’m creating parts for each of the players with one staff for their instrument and another below it for their respective vocal harmony. Back in the 90s, when I had a thirteen-piece band with a horn section, I was writing out all of the arrangements by hand. If I was pressed for time, I’d finish charts right before leaving for rehearsal and would end up putting original manuscripts in front of the guys. Inevitably, one of them would leave with the chart I gave them and then leave the group. It happened more than once. These days, it’s different. I create my charts using software and just send PDFs to everyone. Trying to get music software to do certain things makes me long for my pencils again, but I get better at it with every tune I transcribe. It’s worth it for the infinite copy capabilities and backups. (And backups of backups…)
As I get more settled with the main group, I’ll probably describe the process in more detail. Right now, we’re in the first rehearsal stages, finding our rhythm. Our “debut,” as if were, is actually the day after tomorrow. There’s no way I’ll be off book for Friday, so I hope the place we’re playing has enough light on the stage so I can see my bible. (That’s what I call my binder full of bass parts.)