Tag Archives: creative process

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”

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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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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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My Gibson ES-346 in the studio

My studio workflow

The other day I wrote about how an idea develops into a song, and my approach to arranging the music. Today I’ll write about how I prepare a song for recording and my studio workflow around the recording sessions.

My Gibson ES-346 in the studio

My Gibson ES-346 in the studio

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Will Lee in the studio with the scores to Down at the cafe by Soren Reiff

Arranging the music

If I’ve been returning to an idea for a song and been able to see some potential, and still like the overall feel of the tune, I start to think more seriously about the arranging the music.

Arranging the music

At this point I normally have all the fundamental parts of the song; verse, bridge and chorus … So, it’s time to consider the overall flow of the track – how it builds up and develops.

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