Monday, October 1, 2007
Men In Helicopters String Quartet
men in helicopters string quartet
volume 1 number 12
as with last week's download the string arrangement for men in helicopters was first conceived in my head. I could hear the parts I wanted just as I can hear harmony parts I want to sing. but putting the proper notes on paper requires the help of a trained musician. with big blue sun it was Al Jewer who helped me; with men in helicopters it was the viola player Kristin Wilkinson.
Kristin and I sat at the piano. while I played out the lines I heard in my "head arrangement" she wrote the notes down. being a "trained" string player she was able to inform me of the ranges of the instruments, and certain little helpful details. for example, would this part sound best played on the low end of the violin or the high end of the viola? she took the parts home with her to write them out correctly and even made a little home demo for me to hear.
the recording session was quick. all I needed to do was to set the tempo. the players were easily able to play the parts correctly and within a few passes we were satisfied.
when I worked with frank zappa in 1977 I asked whether or not I should now learn to read music. frank said I already knew it my own way, I just didn't know the terminology. he said it was perhaps even helpful for me not to know the rules. at any rate he recommended not to bother, saying the time it would take would not be worth it for someone at my stage of development.
for the last few years I've been listening intently to my 10-year old daughter Ava
as she practices her piano lessons in the living room on Howard the piano,
reading the notes from books.
(we moved Howard upstairs to the living room for exactly that purpose.)
it seems like she's reading out loud to me.
I can observe her thought processes.
I am more and more amazed as she gets better and better.
frank was correct in saying in effect it was too late for me to start,
but with all the available resources nowadays,
I highly recommend proper training.
first violin: david davidson
second violin: david angell
viola: kristin wilkinson
cello: john catchings
string arrangement by kristin wilkinson and adrian
engineer: ken latchney
recorded at StudioBelew in Mt. Juliet, TN.
on April 17, 1997