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Working Thru a Song - Big Butt and a Smile

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Joined: 17 Oct 2006
Posts: 2
Location: Detroit, MI

PostPosted: Fri Dec 07, 2007 4:07 pm    Post subject: Working Thru a Song - Big Butt and a Smile Reply with quote

Working Thru a Song - Big Butt and a Smile
By Michael Stevenson

This is a short narrative of how a song happened to happen.

Almost every song starts a different way. Some songs start as a rhythm idea, a few begin life as a title or a first lyrical line or maybe a chorus. It could be a melody line that germinates into a fully blossoming song. This is about the birth of Big Butt and a Smile.

Ken Sutton sat down and played a partial progression he'd been working on. I kept it in the key he used.

First I worked out a pattern of the full progression and then put together some drum patterns on the Boss Dr. Rhythm. I laid a bass line and played it to the drums. While working on that, I tried a line that went with the body of the song but would cause a very funky feel with the Intro.

I had built the drums to start with the bass drum only; hitting on the four, building up with some hi-hat and lifting to break into the full-out tempo of the body of the song.

Ken and I had been talking about putting a break in the song. I told him that I had a half-time pattern inspired by a drum pattern that saxophonist Stevan Davis of Omaha, Nebraska came up with to audition potential drummers. Steve and I played together in the show band “Sweet Taste of Sin”.

It took a minute or two to work up an appropriate bass line for that beat. The part of the break that took time was coming back in with the drums after the two-measure break. Ken asked if I could come up with a fill to bring the body and patterns of the song back. Ken said “Think of a woman stripping out of her clothes; not a stripper but a woman taking off her clothes to a 'snake' type of beat.”

I used the studio's Ibanez bass on the bass line with a little compression/limiting to even out the signal. We played with some distortion on the bass line but it made it sound to “70's-ish.”

Next I played the rhythm guitar part with my Strat into my Roland GR-33 channeled thru a ZOOM 2000 processor, kind of a 'swamp guitar' thang. I put in a harmonics pad over the 'snake' break. Next came the single note part over the hook. After I laid it I told Ken, “I've been wanting to use a two-guitar harmony line in something; this is going to be it!”

Ken wanted a lead guitar solo in the song but I felt a lead guitar 'part' would work instead. Well, as we tried a few things, we ended up with the solo intro and the lead solo 'part' during the half-time break: not really a solo per se, but it served the purpose.

Ken said he thought that Amplitude had some great sounds to use when I wanted the Lead guitar sections to 'pop-out' as far as presence: as usual, Ken's idea was right on the money!

Total time from beginning to completion was about five hours. All of this was created at WaterFall Recording Studio while it was based in Detroit, MI. Ken has relocated to Dafter, MI
Take care,
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