Tag Archives: recording a song

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.

Soren Reiff and Michito Sanchez hanging in L.A.

Powerfull percussion by Michito Sanchez

From time to time, I have had the pleasure of playing with Michito Sanchez in different constellations with David Garfield. No matter what repertoire we played, no matter what style, Michito has always lifted the music to another level.

Powerfull percussion by Michito Sanchez on the Gratitude album

Michito is unique – always coming up with tons of great ideas in the studio and always meeting you with a big smile and very positive attitude.

Soren Reiff and Michito Sanchez hanging in L.A.

Soren Reiff and Michito Sanchez hanging in L.A.

I was so lucky to have Michito playing on my second album “Miss you” – actually that was the very first time I worked with him in the studio. Since then I’ve use Michito on soundtracks for TV or commercials. He has a killer pocket and he always has tons of percussion lined up. You are sure to get, not only a tight and groovy shaker, but also the exact type of shaker you need for the specific track. Michito has added so much gold to my music, no matter what style and what weird wishes I had for parts.
Beside his “basic” tracks – for instance congas, shaker or tambourine, I always get him to record a “toy track”. Continue reading

Kim S. Hansen on Soren Reiff Gratitude album

Killer keyboard parts by Kim S. Hansen

I have written about Gary Novak and Jimmy Haslip and how they contributed to the Gratitude album. Today I’ll introduce you to the very talented keyboard player Kim S. Hansen – I’m feel very privileged to have him playing on my album.

Killer keyboard parts by Kim S. Hansen on the Gratitude album

Kim is actually Danish-born but has lived in L.A. since the nineties. He is Musical Director for Patti Austin and has played with Phil Perry, Paul Jackson jr. and many more. (While we did the recordings for the Gratitude album), Kim had to take some weeks off from my sessions to go to South Africa and tour with guitar ace Earl Klugh … cool).

Keyboard player Kim S. Hansen is also playing on the new Soren Reiff album Gratitude

Kim S. Hansen live with Earl Klugh

Back in the nineties Kim and I played together every once I a while, and we did a lot of the same types of gigs and sessions: Playing in different house bands and so on. After many years in that line of work, we both wanted to do something different. Continue reading

Jimmy Haslip is digging deep on Gratitude

Earlier I’ve written about my workflow when developing an idea into a tune or how I work when I’m arranging a song by making demos. This is about recording bass and about the recording session with the awesome Jimmy Haslip for my Gratitude album.

I have had the pleasure to work with many outstanding bass players – Will Lee, John Peña and Mark King, all unique players. Here I’ll tell you about some of my work with Jimmy Haslip – a living legend.

Many years ago I saw Jimmy Haslip’s name for the first time on the album “Mirage a trois” by the band Yellow Jackets. 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”

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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'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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