Category Archives: Making music

I’ll write about my creative process – how a riff or chord progression can develop into a song and how I’ll arrange the music. I’ll write about the the recording and mixing sessions and all the related work that is needed before it’s ready for release.

Guest appearance with a house-band – part 2

Thoughts about the style

The other day I wrote about the length of a song if you are going to do guest appearance with a house-band – today I’ll write some thoughts considering the style … Should it be country, rock, jazz or classical? Fortunately, there are no definitive answers. Basically, it is only your good taste that determines the type of song you should choose.

The style in combination with the type of band

You will never get a four-piece band to sound like either a symphony orchestra or big band – just like you will never get a four-piece live band to sound exactly like a programmed Lady Gaga production. At least not if you only have little rehearsal time. It’s another story if you have budget and time … then almost everything is possible, with sequencers and stuff, but with a tight schedule and budget you have to consider things thoroughly.

A super Big Band track that you think is cool to sing, can often be rearranged so that the development, intensity and energy is conserved. Themes previously played by a huge sax group, may also work as a simple vibraphone, guitar or piano line. If the musicians aren’t stuck to lots of pre-defined roles, and instead can contribute with personal things, you will often get a great result and get more energy across from the stage.

Some time ago I did a guest appearance with a house-band ... or more correctly with a big band - Soren Reiff with Trelleborg Big band

Some time ago I did a guest appearance with a house-band … or more correctly with a big band … Here I did it the other way around, I arranged some funky tracks from my Funky Flavas album for this jazz line up – great fun!! Soren Reiff with Trelleborg Big band

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Soren Reiff as Musical director. Hush did a guest appearance with the house-band on the TV-show "Danmarks indsamlingen"

Guest appearance with a house-band

Guest appearance with a house-band … What should you be aware of?

You probably sing because you love singing. If you sing a lot, you might end up singing in different constellations and for different purposes. Perhaps you might appear as a guest singer with a house-band you do not know. I’ve worked as Musical Director for house-bands on TV and live shows for many years. I think there are several things you should be aware of when you do such a guest performance with a house-band – so here and in some following blog-posts, are some thoughts from a M.D.’s view.

Of course, if you’re on tour promoting you latest single, you don’t have to consider which song to perform with the local house bands. But if you’re going to some sort of audition or examination, or performing as the icing on the cake at a venue with a house-band, there are things you should consider. Whether you sing only to please yourself or others, the result will be better and more memorable the fewer elements that can distract the judges or audience and remove focus from the overall impression and your performance. The more everyone on stage work as a unit, focusing on energy, dynamics and interpretation, the stronger the result will be. Therefore it’s wise to also think about the style, arrangement, duration and so on.

“But if the band is a group of serious and professional musicians, who even had opportunity to prepare your song, shouldn’t everything be possible?” In theory, yes… In practice, not necessarily.

guest appearance with a house-band

Soren Reiff as Musical director. Hush did a guest appearance with the house-band on the TV-show “Danmarks indsamlingen”

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I have always thought it was fun practicing - but it's paying off when I remember my best advice ... always pracitce something you can't play. Copyright @ Rishi

My best advice

The other day a student from Berklee College of Music asked me if I could give him an advice. Not just any advice – but my best advice to a young guitar player, who wanted to “live my life” and play the type of jobs I’ve done.

That was a tough one. There’s so many things I can think of depending on what you’re focusing at – I mean should it be concerning networking, education, playing gigs, recording sessions, getting the right guitar or practicing … well “practicing” – that’s a god place to start. So here it is … at least one of them 🙂

Practicing

Everyone who is thinking of being a professionel (musician) knows that you have to practice/study (hard). Personally I was told this the very first time by my brother when I was around ten years old. From that day I started to practice a bit more seriously. Later on I practiced many hours every day.

Sometimes Soren Reiff has  been practicing picking technic for hours. In this post you'll get my best advice. Copyright @ Rishi

Often I’ve been practicing picking technic for hours. Copyright @ Rishi

Did it pay off? Yes … my playing improved – and that motivated me to practice even harder.

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A couple of weeks ago I wrote about my first appearance on the TV-show “Studio Jams”, episode #34Today I’ll write about my second Studio Jams experience – episode #47.

As I wrote in my first post about Studio Jams I was very happy to be invited to participate – and being invited back was an even bigger pleasure. So when Producer Tom Emmi asked me if I wanted to do a Swedish show, I agreed instantly.

The line up for Studio Jams #47: Mattias Bylund, Jannik Jensen, Pontus Engborg, Tracy Silverman & Soren Reiff, outside Svenska Grammofon Studion, Gothenburg, Sweden

The line up for Studio Jams #47: Mattias Bylund, Jannik Jensen, Pontus Engborg, Tracy Silverman & Soren Reiff, outside Svenska Grammofon Studion, Gothenburg, Sweden

The musicians for Studio Jams #47

Tom told me that he would bring violin virtuoso Tracy Silverman, but wanted me to find the rest of the musicians. I hadn’t been living in Sweden for that long, so my network of Swedish musicians wasn’t that big. But I had connected to a Swedish drummer, Pontus Engborg on Myspace and Facebook. Pontus and I have a lot of friends in common from the L.A. scene.

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My first “Studio Jams”

The other day I shared a link on my Facebook profile to a track I did for the american tv-show “Studio Jams”. I’ve played in two full episodes of Studio Jams. This is the story about the first international version of the show I did – recorded in Copenhagen, Denmark. 

Several years ago I was contacted by TV-producer Tom Emmi – he was planning a trip to Europe and Scandinavia. Tom had heard about me through keyboard player David Garfield, and Tom wanted to invite me to participate in the first international version of the program Studio Jams.

He described the formular. I saw some samples from earlier Studio Jams and I was totally blown away – it’s some really great shows Tom is doing. Basically it’s a documentary about how musicians work and comunicate when they meet and jam without anything planed in advance. The episodes are shot in a recording studio, so you get the original sound from the instruments thru samples from the rehearsals, but also the recorded and mixed version of the final take of the jammed tune.

Soren Reiff in Studiojams #34

Soren Reiff in Studiojams #34

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Kim S. Hansen’s keys on Let’s Play

Now it’s time for keyboards … today I’ll let you have a sneak preview of Kim S. Hansen’s keys on Let’s Play from my Gratitude album. When I started to work on this song the working title was Saturday Brunch, so don’t get confused 🙂

I introduced Kim earlier on this blog – we have know each other for more than twenty years now. But since he moved to L.A: and I didn’t, we haven’t seen each other that much. Maybe we have had a beer or barbecue when I’ve been in L.A. but that’s unfortunately not that often.  And Kim and I haven’t been playing together for ages, even thou I definitely miss that.

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Soren Reiff and Michito Sanchez hanging in L.A.

Michito Sanchez and his percussion for Let’s Play

If you have read my former posts concerning the development of my tracks, you know I’m going to write about Michito Sanchez and his percussion for Let’s Play today. If you haven’t read my former posts concerning this tune, I’ll suggest you listen to the samples I placed in those post before you continue … I think it’ll make this post much more interesting … but on the other hand … go ahead, read and listen – you can always return to the others posts later. And don’t get confused about the title – when I started the working title for the track was Saturday Brunch … sorry about that 🙂

Soren Reiff together with Michito Sanchez

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Adding real drums and bass

Today I’ll write a little about the next stage in the development of Saturday Brunch. Today you’ll hear what happened when Gary Novak and Jimmy Haslip added their golden touch to my song, by adding real drums and bass, instead of my scratch programming.

I introduced Jimmy Haslip and Gary Novak earlier on this blog. If you haven’t read that post, I can easily sum it up: They are outstanding musicians who have played with almost every artist imaginable within the modern and groovy jazz world. I guess no matter what track you find them on, you won’t be disappointed with their playing.

I’ve also described my workflow around my demo’s and how I prepare my demo’s for the real sessions in an earlier post, so I won’t waste time with that here. Let’s move straight to the cut of this track.

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Soren Reiff's right hand

Programming a demo track

When I returned to the hastily recorded idea of “Saturday Brunch”, a couple of days later, I still liked the chord progression and the theme – so I started arranging the music and programming a demo track of the song.

In a situation like this, 9 out of 10 times I’ll start with the drums. I have a few kits that I always aim for when making neutral sounding demo’s. By “neutral”, I mean that it’s going to sound like a standard drum kit, not too fancy, not too artificial and not dictating a certain style … kind of open for “everything”.

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From idea to recorded demo

Ok, today I’m going to post the first samples from the making of my next album – samples showing how a tune develops from idea to recorded demo. After this, I’ll write more about how the demo develops and what I do before the track is ready for real musicians. This is the first post of a series about the development from the very first demo until the final song is there, and later on I’ll also write about other songs.

Saturday Brunch

The working title of this song is “Saturday Brunch”, guess why … Yes, it was on a Saturday and I had been eating brunch with my family – actually we were still eating, when one of the kids spilled milk on her clothes and the other one needed a dry diaper. My sweet wife said she would take care of it, and that I should enjoy one more cup of coffee – nice. While my wife and kids went upstairs, I sat and enjoyed the morning atmosphere. I picked up my guitar from a chair nearby and started jamming. Shortly after, I had a little groove going on. Two bluesy chords with a tail, some imaginary drums and bass, and I started humming an idea for a theme. I kind of liked this groovy little vamp, but couldn’t find my phone to record the idea like I normally do.

Normally I record my ideas for a son into my phone.
BTW: this is a sreen dump from my phone, so you’re not supposed to play anything by pressing the play button.

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