Category Archives: Thoughts

Here you’ll find posts about a lot of different stuff – stuff that’s isn’t nerdy :-)

David Garfield, Steve Ferrone, Soren Reiff & Will Lee in the studio recording Funky Mama - for Soren Reiffs Miss You album

Writing music – Funky Mama

Here’s the story about how I was writing music without being aware of it – unfortunately I think it happens often for a lot of people who writes music. As a little “bonus” you can read why the title “Funky Mama” is appropriate for this specific song I’ll use for this story. It’s always tricky to find titles for instrumental tunes 🙂

Writing music – writing Funky Mama

I was visiting my parents, staying at their house for the weekend. As I’ve written earlier I always bring my guitar for holidays. When I arrived we had some nice food, some good wine and talked a lot. The day after we all sat in the living room, doing whatever we liked to relax. Mom was reading a book in her favorite chair, dad was looking thru some art books. I was just jamming around on my guitar.

After a while I decided to make some coffee. Dad was still reading and mom was doing their laundries. While I was in the kitchen I heard her whistle a catchy phrase. I thought I knew it from somewhere but couldn’t decide from where. After a while it started to annoy me that I couldn’t name or categorise her tune. I went to her and asked – “what’s that you’re whistling … it sounds familiar?”. My mom laughed and told me that it was what I have been playing in the living room a little earlier.

Back in the living room I picked up my guitar. Within seconds I realised that she was right – it was the “theme” I’ve been jamming around for some time. I decided to record a memo in my phone. Good decision. Just a few weeks later the tune was added to my bands setlist.

When I was jamming in my parents living room I wasn't aware of I was writing music ... and didn't knew I would be recording the tune shortly after with some outstanding musicians. Here we are - David Garfield, Steve Ferrone, me & Will Lee in the studio recording Funky Mama, for the Miss you album

From the session for my second album Miss You – David Garfield, Steve Ferrone, me & Will Lee recording Funky Mama.

Writing music without being aware of it

I had been writing music and composed a complete song without being aware of it. It would have been forgotten, if my mom hadn’t started to whistle the theme. After this experience I record almost everything I jam over for more than a few minuttes. Therefore I’ll suggest that you also remember to record whatever you’re jamming around with. You’ll never know when something interesting is showing up.

And a little fun fact: neither my mom or I was aware of the odd meter within the song. There’s a 5/4 bar in the middle of the A-part. I realised that when I introduced the tune to the band, and the drummer had to hear it twice to figure out what was going on 🙂

From the recording of Funky Mama to the US Tv Show Studio Jams

From the recording of Funky Mama to the US Tv Show Studio Jams

Later on I have even recorded the song on my second album. I also ended up jamming the tune on the American TV-show Studio Jams – you can see that part from the episode here. All this just because my mama caught the riff and started to whistle while she walking around fixing some things.

Have a wonderful day

Soren

You can read about how we recorded that tune for the TV-show Studio Jams here and watch that part from the episode here.

Close up Soren Reiff pedal board

Problems with hum in my board

Problems with hum

First of all: let’s make something VERY clear – I’m no technician … I don’t know much about what’s going on inside my amps, pedals and stuff. I’m a pro guitar player who is really serious about how my set-up sounds. And even though I have many years experience with this, I still get surprised. Here are some experiences that might save you some problems with hum.

I’ve written about my pedals, boards and my power supplies. I’ve also written about my many learning experiences from setting everything up correctly, so it should be quite easy to make everything work.

I was ready to mount everything to my board. I will describe all my pedals as average or above. The power supply – the Ciokolate is awesome. I had the order of the pedals and had decided what outputs I should use on the Ciokolate. The pedals got the right voltage and the right current. I used the right cables so the polarity was ok and they all were on an isolated outputs. It should be working – and it did!!

But I noticed some seriously hum from my Plexi Drive deluxe.

sr-pedalboard-overview

Some of the pedals in my board … I love the sound of my Plexi and Euphoria – awesome pedals 🙂

Continue reading

David Garfield & Soren Reiff

How I met David Garfield

It’s more than 10 years ago since I played with David Garfield for the first time – and I still remember clearly how it felt like “home” when he started playing the intro to the very first tune we played together. 

This is the story about how I met David Garfield and Henrik Enqvist

Garfield and I were hired by the Danish drummer Henrik Engqvist for a tour playing a mix of Engqvist’s repetoire and Garfield’s songs. I hadn’t met neither Henrik nor David before and I felt very honored to be asked to play this tour since Henrik had used Robben Ford and Frank Gambale for earlier tours with his band. And to play with David Garfield, who had the bands Los Lobotomys, Karizma and worked as M.D. for George Benson and Natalie Cole, would be awesome. Henrik knew Garfield from L.A. where they had met a couple of years earlier. Henrik often is in L.A. to work with a lot of A-listers over there.

David Garfield, Soren Reiff together with Henrik Engqvist orc, Kenneth Bremer and Niels Estrup

David Garfield, Soren Reiff together with Henrik Engqvist orc, Kenneth Bremer and Niels Estrup

The first time we all met was around noon to rehearse for the first show the same night. Henrik had just picked David up at the airport. David handled out his music sheets, sat down at the piano and started to play the song “Donna”. I instantly felt like I’ve known David and that song for years. The way David voiced the chords and his groove made me feel so good – I felt like returning back home after a long trip abroad.

That tour ended up being very important to me – I got so inspired from the shows we did. I had so much fun since I was allowed to stretch out during a lot of long solos, and we never played a song the same way twice. David really knows how to inspire.

David Garfield & Soren Reiff during sound check with Henrik Engqvist and bass player Kim in the back

David Garfield & Soren Reiff during sound check with Henrik Engqvist and bass player Kim in the back

During the final concert we played on that tour, I felt so sad about “this was it”. I knew I had to do something about it. So it was actually that night I decided to make an album with my own music. That let me to do the “Funky Flavas” album – and after that the “Miss You” and “Gratitude” album.

Since we met for the first time I have had the pleasure to play with Henrik again several times. We did an episode of “Studiojams” together in Copenhagen some years ago and I’ve also played together with Henrik and Jimmy Haslip, Jeff Richman and Russell Ferrante, when they have been in Scandinavia – always a pleasure and great fun! And I’ve played with Garfield in many different constellations both live and in the studio – always fantastic and very very inspiring.

So – thank you Henrik for asking me back then, I’m very thankful for that!! Henrik has recently released a new album “Engqvisition”- check it out here! And thank you David for your friendship and for always being so inspiring – it’s a blast knowing you and playing with you.

All the very best

Soren

Soren Reiff - album release - Gratitude

Releasing an album

Releasing an album

Yesterday my third album – Gratitude – was released. I’m happy, excited, proud, nervous. I have tons of feelings and thoughts running thru me and I can’t sit still for more than a few minutes, before I have to do something to distract my thoughts – I guess you can imagine how it is.

I’ve been working on this album for several years on and off. Actually did I write some of the tracks many years ago, while some of the tunes are totally new, also to me … at least kind of new, after working with them for some time.

When I make an album a lot of things go around in circles.

Continue reading

Mattias Bylund, Jannik Jensen, Pontus Engborg, Tracy Silverman & Soren Reiff

Guest appearance with a house-band – part 5

I’ve written about the length of the song and the style. I’ve also written about challenges for band members and tempo changes. Now it’s about time to wrap it all up with a few more thoughts about guest appearances. Thes thoughts might be obvious for some … not everybody.

Last but not least

When you do a guest appearance with a house-band it’s important you know the song you’re singing well. The better you you know the song the more you can assist the band by leading and cueing. If something goes wrong during the concert, you’ll be more on top of what happens the more you know the song.

Conversely, if you do not feel particularly well and relaxed about any of the songs you have chosen, my advice would be to go with the simplest. When the band have the possibility to focus on other things rather than just getting thru, surviving the parts that require virtuosity, they will give you much better backing and that will lead you to a good overall performance. A performance where you will appear absolutely the best and seem more convincing.

Mattias Bylund, Jannik Jensen, Pontus Engborg, Tracy Silverman & Soren Reiff, outside Svenska Grammofon Studion, Gothenburg, Sweden

Some years ago I did a guest appearance on the America TV format “Studio jams” … actually we all did – and we all showed up with open minds and a positive attitude

Continue reading

Soren Reiff and Will Lee playing together at the Copehagen Jazz festival

Guest appearance with a house-band – part 4

I’ve written about some thoughts concerning the length of the song and I’ve written about the style and what can happen if the material ask for a lot of virtuosity from a band member, when you do a guest appearance with a house-band. Today I’ll write about tempo changes and how you can prepare your guest appearance.

Tempo changes

Just like some of the other issues I’ve written about, this might not seem like a problem for a person who knows the song well. But it can be … for a whole band, that hasn’t heard your way of going from one part to the other, and who don’t know all their parts by heart, it can be a challenge … Of course everybody will do their best, but if you add eventualities, such as bad monitors, and the fact that the band might have played 10 or 15 songs after your 10 minute rehearsal and before you are playing together again at the concert. Then tempo changes and giant medleys of songs that only you have known for years are a big challenge … At least if you only have one or two play-thru’s at the rehearsals many hours before you do the show.

It was a kind of a guest appearance together with Will Lee, when we played with David Garfield at the Copenhagen Jazz Festvial some years ago ... great fun

I did a kind of guest appearance together with Will Lee, when we played with David Garfield at the Copenhagen Jazz Festvial some years ago … great fun

Continue reading

Julie Berthelsen performing with Soren Reiff and his orchestra

Guest appearance with a house-band – part 3

Other things that can cause problems

Yesterday I wrote about the style of the song you will perform with. What other things can cause problems for the musicians individually or the whole band when you are about to do a guest appearance with a house-band?

Maybe you know a certain song where you will shine brilliantly, but it might not be the right choice if the overall result isn’t top notch. A song that seems simple and straight forward to you, is not necessarily easy for everyone. An Icelandic or Faroese folk song that exists only on a sheet of music without bar-lines and proper notation, since it never has been sung in time, is almost impossible for a Danish or American musician to feel comfortable with within ten minutes, since the style and the sound just isn’t what we have grown up with. Or if the foundation for your entire song a fast harp-run, an advanced pedal-steel-country-guitar, or a super advanced programmed drum groove, you might want to consider having an alternate song as a back up, which could sound great the first time thru, played by a regular combo.

A photo from the rehearsals to a TV show - Julie Berthelsen played with me and my band, when she did a "Guest appearance with a house-band" in the program "Danmarksindsamlingen"

A photo from the rehearsals to a TV show – Julie Berthelsen played with me and my band, when she did a “guest performance with a house-band” in the program “Danmarksindsamlingen”

Continue reading

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

Continue reading

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”

Continue reading

Volume and wah problems

Volume and wah problems

Dear guitar friends – I want to hear your opinion about an issue I’ve just become aware of … an issue that really started to drive me crazy. I’m thinking about volume and wah problems … It is perhaps a bit nerdy but let’s geek out and enjoy it.

Here’s my volume and wah problems

The angle and the action on my wah pedal has always seemed very natural and as it should be. Maybe I needed a bit of time getting used to the new feel, when it was mounted on my board that’s angled, but it felt natural pretty fast.
But the angle and the action on my volume pedal has always seemed a little to big for me. After it was mounted to my board, I think the problem has increased. Many years ago I decided to drop my high-heeled boots and wear something more neutral, but now I miss the high heels when I want to turn the volume all the way down (which the guitarists usually don’t do very often), but it happens every now and then (yes, when somebody place difficult sheets in front of you … or when we need a break).

Soren Reiff volume and wah pedals

Maybe it isn’t that easy to see, but my volume and wah problems comes form the angle on my two pedals, that aren’t the same when they are in “heel-position”

Continue reading