January 25, 2016

Yesterday was a fun day: Football and music. In the morning I did the arrangements for three new tunes and, in the afternoon and evening, watch NFL football. The wife slept – she says it isn’t really football.

On the music thing, it was an interesting process. One tune is an old Eagles number from Urban Cowboy. Ironically enough, I started the arrangement the day before Glen Frey’s passing and finished the day after. He will be missed.

One of the primary rules that I have tried to follow for 40 plus years is to try to never slow down an original tune in order to produce it for square dancing. I am finding, however, that it is becoming more and more difficult to do that. Our modern square dance tempo has slowed significantly over the past 30 years from a standard of 130 – 132 bpm to where it is currently 120 – 126 bpm. I, personally, do not attribute all of that to the rising age of our dance, although it is a major contributor. But, also, the style and type of popular music today lends itself to a more frenetic but slower tempo. I think the disco era began that change.

I know that the Eagles tune that we are doing was originally cut on two different labels but was arranged quite differently from what I have decided to do. The earlier cuts were a decided 2/4 rhythm and, while the tempo of the dance steps were slower, the music was actually faster. I have decided to actually slow the original piece from 134 bpm to 126 bpm and keep the song as original as possible. The problem I face is that, at that tempo and original style rhythm, it is as boring as watching grass grow. What I have decided to do is change the bass and kick drum to an every step lick and keep the rest of the song original. I have no idea if it will work but the piece in my head sounds great. I guess we’ll find out when we ship it in April.

The other two tunes required speeding up which is normally a good thing if the lyric doesn’t move to quickly. One is a love song by Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton and, at all costs, I must avoid making it too busy or it loses the intimate feel. The other is an old R&B tune by Stevie Wonder that we must be careful not to lose the “funk” or it will lose its appeal.

I am excited about these three and, hopefully, our subscribers will as well. Speaking of subscribers, in my next post I hope to talk about the pros and cons of subscription services and single song sales. That should get some interest comments.


In My Own Humble Opinion

January 24, 2016

This is my first Blog  and I really am feeling my way along.  I have no idea whether what I have to say will be of interest to anyone but at least I can vent.  Whether or not anyone else agrees is really irrelevant.  If, however, some of my ideas and thoughts are found useful, then it is doubly worthwhile.

I am a professional square dance caller and music producer.  I have been in the calling business for more than 58 years and producing music for more than 40.  If there is  way to get it wrong, I have found it, although, I feel confidant that there are still many mistakes yet to be made.

I have four children that I have tried, over the years, to keep from making the same mistakes I made during the process of becoming an adult.  Unfortunately, they seem to want to make their own mistakes.  I have never seen the wisdom in that but, that is the way things seem to go.

In the business of square dance calling and in music production,  there are pitfalls, and mental potholes that should be avoided.  It seems, however, that the harder I try to advise (based on my many mistakes) against making certain choices, the more my friends and colleagues want to travel the same treacherous roads.  Again, I fail to see the wisdom in those decisions.  I supposed it could be attributed to a number of reasons:  a) Their massive ego b) a feeling that I have some hidden agenda c) a lack of trust in my knowledge d)  or, and I hate to think this, they could just be dumb.

At any rate, I am going to use this blog as a tool to send out what I feel are words of wisdom based on my successes and failures in the calling and recording business.  I am fortunate to have had many of both of the past 50 years.  Yes, fortunate, because without failures, you will never learn the road to success.

Now, here is the tricky part.  I have no idea how or where to post this.