Performing and Proofreading

October 7, 2007

Home. Home. Home. We’re home. We’re soooo tired, but we’re home. Going on an adventure is great fun, and coming home is great relief. There’s lots happening here at home, and I’m way behind in telling you about it.

If you read this in time, and you happen to be in NY tonight, and you happen to be looking for something to do in a few hours, I encourage you to go to Birdland to hear Sam Davis’s evening of songs. Sam is a fantastic composer and he writes with lots of different lyricists. Two of the songs on my album (“Perfect Summer” and “Air”) are the result of that collaboration. His evening is called “All Mixed Up: The Music of Sam Davis,” and he’s featuring performances by Anastasia Barzee, Matt Farnsworth, Santino Fontana, Megan Lawrence, Kelli O’Hara, Megan McGinnis, Matt McGrath, Karen Murphy, Dan Reichard, Benjamin Schrader, Patrick Sullivan, and Will Swenson. My friend Annette Jolles is directing, Sam himself will be at the piano, and the rest of the band is Sean McDaniel (drums), Brad Russell (bass), and my own pal from LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS days, John Benthal (guitar). Concert is tonight, Oct 7th at 7 pm, and Birdland is 315 W. 45th Street (btw 8th and 9th). And if you do go, clap really loudly for my songs!

Next on the agenda, I’ve got a concert of my own coming up in Santa Monica on November 17th, featuring my good friend and long-time collaborator, Susan Egan, and my new collaborator and pal Kevin Earley. It’ll be a bunch of my songs, including several that I’ve not performed in a REALLY long time and even a few that I’m sure you’ve never heard. The thing about this concert, part of the “Under the Radar” series, is that it’s FREE, because we’re kicking off the opening of a new theatre in Los Angeles. It’s called the Madison Theater and it’s attached to Santa Monica College. Click here to check out what’s happening in this new and vibrant space, and better yet, call 310-434-3414 for more info about tickets to my concert. (As soon as there’s a website for tickets, I’ll post it.)

Upon my return home, the most exciting thing waiting for me in the pile of mail on the kitchen table was a stack of proofs for my new songbook, to be published by Hal Leonard in conjunction with Williamson Music. It’s all the music for the songs on my album, “This Ordinary Thursday.” You may be wondering how this all works, and I’ll fill you in. I sent computer files of my songs to the good editors at Hal Leonard, and they’ve taken about two months to create and edit the scores for publication. At first I thought, “What’s to edit? I’ve written everything down; it’s exactly as I want it.” But now that I’ve got the proofs I see some of the changes they’ve made. Editing is a really interesting thing. In some cases, they’ve changed the layout of the pages — meaning the page turns might fall in different places, the lyrics might be less crammed into the space between two barlines, or the separation of two voices on two lines might be consolidated into two voices on one line. None of that affects the music, and often it actually solves some problems and makes the scores easier to read. In other cases, they’ve renamed some of the chords. Sometimes I say, “oh yeah, Ab (add2) is a better choice than Ab2,” and sometimes I say, “No, I actually meant C Maj 9 instead of G/C.” So the proofing is a chance to correct mistakes — both theirs and mine — before this thing goes to print. I think it would be pretty upsetting to go through this process and then have the final product have some glaring and obvious error that we all missed, so I’m gonna take some time and hope to get it right. But the aim is that the songbook will be out in the world by the end of the year. Of course I’ll announce it and make a big deal when that finally happens, and then YOU will go buy it. Right? Right?

While we’re talking about editing, I had another interesting editing story that I thought was worth sharing. Earlier this summer Lauren Kennedy recorded one of my songs for her new album which is to be released on November 4th. I wrote about it here in this blog at the time. We recorded the band and Lauren’s vocals, and I always intended to add backing vocals later in the game. In my mind, the vocals were a part of the orchestration, a layer in the tapestry of sound, just as a bed of strings or a pair of guitars would have been. So about a month after we recorded the inital track, I hired four great singers and we went into a studio and added the backing vocals. As we began mixing the track, there emerged a great number of differing opinions (Lauren, me, record producer, recording engineer, etc.) about whether or not the vocals were working. It was an interesting dilemma. On an album designed to feature Lauren and a collection of songs you probably don’t already know, how do you keep the other voices from grabbing your attention away from the STORY of the song? We tried mixing them down at a very low volume. That didn’t work — then you were straining to hear them and not listening to what Lauren was saying. Next we tried cutting them out except for the spaces in between the lyrics — using them only when they wouldn’t compete with the text of the song. That didn’t work because it felt like a very stop-and-start arrangement. Finally we tried bringing them in only at the end, and then they just felt like they were appearing out of nowhere — more confusing than helpful. The final decision, and it was unanimous among all of us, was that the song worked great as a solo and the addition of the backing vocals in any form was more distraction than illumination. So, we cut them. You may wonder why things get cut, and there ya go.

(Buried deep in my iTunes folder, of course, is the version with the complete BVs. Someday, when Lauren’s album is a huge hit and everyone knows all the words to this song, I’ll pop that baby up on my blog and you’ll all go, “Ohhhhh…. I see.” Until then, it’s Lauren’s and my little secret.)

All right. More later. Go to Sam’s concert if you can. I’m off to throw a birthday party for my two-year-old. Go ahead, envy me.

1 thought on “Performing and Proofreading”

  1. adamhillrocks on said:

    This is actually my husband’s blog I’m signing on through. Please forgive. My name is Lee Ann (Myers) Hill and we went to high school together. Do you remember Tammy Cates? She told me about your site and what you do. Your music is wonderful! It is so great to see such success and fun and adventure.

    Congratulations with all you have done! AND for your 2 year old. My daughter just turned 3 1/2 months. She is amazing!

    Lee Ann Hill

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