Tag Archives: writing music

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.

Welcome to my blog!

Soren Reiff - Shades

I’m Soren Reiff, a pro guitar player, composer, producer, author who want to share experiences about working in the music business. I hope you will like, share and write comments to my blogposts below this.

You might also want to visit  and hopefully subscribe to my YouTube channels. You’ll find my international channel here and my Danish channel here.

Enjoy – Soren

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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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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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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I normally record my ideas for a song on my phone

Composing music

I go through several different phases when I’m writing music before an idea for a song might end up as a recorded and maybe even released song. Here I’ve written about how I work when I’m composing music. Later on I’ll write about my workflow when I’m arranging music and preparing the song for recording.

The first idea for a song

I get almost all my ideas for my songs when I sit and jam by myself in a time gap between more important stuff – suddenly there’s a small phrase that catches my attention or maybe an interesting chord progression that inspires me for a theme or other chord progressions.

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My creative process, guitars, gear, concerts and sessions

Hello and welcome to my blog – and thank you for being here!

I have been looking forward for launching this blog for quite a while, so It’s great to have you here reading. Some of the many issues that I want to share with you are my creative process, guitars, gear, concerts and sessions.

My creative process

One of my intensions with this blog to invite you into my creative process. I’ll write about the development of a track, from the moment I get the first idea for a song till I continue developing it, arrange it and finally record the song. This also means that I’ll write about the recording sessions and the amazing musicians and creative people who are involved in this, and you will get the possibility to read about some of the things that happens after the recordings, like editing, mixing, mastering and release. I sure hope that I’ll get some comments and feedback from you or other readers that’ll inspire me in this part of my work. So if you come up with some good and constructive ideas or read something you want to comment, please go right ahead whenever you feel for it.

Concerts and sessions

In addition to this, I’ll write about concerts or sessions. This could either be about how I’ll prepare the music I’m going to play, pick the right equipment or let you hear something special about the gigs or the persons involved in the shows.

My guitars and gear

I can’t hide the fact that I’m really fond of guitars and been in love with them since I was about 4 years old, so of cause I’ll also write some stuff about guitars and all the fantastic gadgets you can use together with them like amps, pedals or things for the studio.

Hope to see you here again soon

I’m really looking forward to work on this blog – I hope I can write a new post once a week and reply comments more often. I can’t promise I’ll manage that, but I’ll do my very best, but I also have to use some time on other things like playing and recording, so there is something to write about, I hope you can live with that and I certainly hope that you will visit here again soon.

Have a wonderful day

Soren

Photo credits

Photo on header by Rishi & photo on sidebar by Henrik Delfer