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Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Real Thing.

So there we were, in the studio. We were going to record some of the songs we have played for years now, in our bi-weekly rehearsals and our scarce concerts. Record them in order to have a demo in the unlikely case that someone would want to hear us in advance before booking us. Of course, booking us is a big word (two, actually); I must confess that it is more the case that we book an opportunity to play in public rather than that we are booked to play in public. However, all of us - some more than others - hope to play a bit more in public in the future, and hence the demo idea.

So, what to do? I love playing concerts, and I love playing rehearsals. I love playing with the guys I am playing with, because it is fun; and I love playing for an audience, because that is even more fun, given the fact that we have a singer with extraordinary communicative powers.

But I don't specifically love recording. The fun of playing is for me not in the sound product, nor is it in the process of producing the sound product; it is not in the music played or in the way we come to that music. It is only in the moment of playing, in the act of standing there, plucking strings, singing, talking, laughing. No way that can be captured in a recording, so I am not interested in even trying it - and then of course there's the fact that we - no I should say: that I am not very interesting, product- or process-wise; but we - mildly (at least I mildly; others much more so) - are in the moment we play, at least for some of our audience.

So I thought that we should capture that idea by recording ourselves in the studio with one microphone. Semi-live, as it were. Forgetting that that only works if you are at least as good as the Dave Rawlings Machine, or better (if that is at all possible). Which we are not (hybris).

So within minutes, we had convinced ourselves that we would not make it with one mic, or two, but needed one mic for each instrument and one for each voice. And of course, after having played the same song a couple of times with always another one of us making the crucial small mistake so that we had to play it again, we even started to understand why you would record instruments separately - or hire studio-musicians to do that for you - or invent computers to replace the studio musicians - et cetera et cetera. Entering the studio led to a silent power forcing us in the mold of what recording in a studio means. Talking about ideal microphones to record a violin with. Putting the guitar through an equalizer.

All reasons why I disliked the recording idea in the first place. But when I was home, I noticed I had had a good afternoon. After all, the studio session was just another rehearsal. We had fun. We plucked strings, we sang, we laughed. Again I had tasted the sweetness (thanks, Marc) of the momentaneous act of playing music, regardless of the question whether or not the resulting product is good or the process interesting.

So we'll end up with a demo which we will distribute on request. And I hope that it will furnish me, and my mates, with new possibilities to play - new possibilities for me to not having my 15 minutes of fame, to not produce a thing of beauty, to not be creative. And, because some things can't be said without a little sniff of pathos: new possibilities to disappear in the moment.

And: thank you, Dimitri. You were just what we needed!

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