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On being LOGICal

For the last couple of years I've been using Logic Pro software to not only record my compositions, but to orchestrate them. Using virtual software instruments, I can create whatever ensemble I want: The sound of a funk band, or a string quartet, or a Broadway pit band. It's all possible. For me, the fun (and challenge) of it all is to use my hands on a keyboard plugged into my computer and to try to think like a different instrument. I always wanted to be a guitarist, and if I play the keys right with the right sounds, I can be Eddie Van Halen or Joe Pass, or a solid rhythm player. The sounds are pre-programmed, but I never use loops or pre-existing patterns. I just pretend that I'm Miles Davis on trumpet or Hendrix on guitar, or Steve Gadd on drums, or myself on piano. That's the trick, and the art. To make this work, I need to listen and study players of varying instruments.

If I listened to a Motown record years ago and just reacted to it, now I listen to every instrument and it's all new. What is the drummer doing? (That's the hardest part for me.) What's the bass player doing? Who is the bass player? I don't want to clone what they do, but rather put it in a sonic blender in my brain so that when the time comes, I'll be able to understand it and play it on the keyboard. If I'm going to write R&B or jazz parts for a horn section, I actually picture the players playing their instruments. Then the right notes happen. Recently I took "Pachelbel's Canon" and created a fun new version. I added backup singers (also software that used real singers). When I put my hands on the keys I picture them standing close around the microphone, feeling the music. This is all a combination of make-believe and drawing on a lifetime of listening to music.

Creating a musical world in a tiny back room recording studio. Being LOGICal.

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