11th rehearsal

Between our first show and our (upcoming) second show, we have had very few rehearsals. One of them, a Saturday morning marathon rehearsal, we learned a new song.

I asked for something a bit more upbeat, something that I could dance to. John wrote a song about pornography. (womp womp)

It’s really quite wonderful. And complex. He composed it all in advance, so that those of us who read music could learn our parts more easily.

“I didn’t expect the score to be 25 pages! The whole song fits on this one sheet in my notebook!”

It was fairly comical to watch us shuffling with all those pages. At one point we considered taping them end to end and building a conveyor belt for our music stands. (Instead, that idea was filed away for future music videos.)

(Another idea for future music video: Wes live-drawing the song, since his notes are all pictures, no words.)

We closed out the rehearsal with a few arrangements of Christmas songs. It was super fun, and I’m trying to convince everyone that we should wear tacky Christmas sweaters. Wish me luck!

and then this happened

WoePony-1478

On Friday night, before our sound check, we were warming up in the lobby of The Haven. All we had was John’s guitar. He started playing the intro to A Song for Ab. Michael began stomping out his drum beat. Wes, Austin, and Ben joined in, singing their instrumental parts. And at the end of the song, we all just stood there, giddy, loving the ways that music can fill a space, the ways that a song can sound so different with parts removed, and loving that we are all creating this together.

After the show, we recruited a friend to record it on their smartphone.

Check it out.

For kicks, count how many times the look on my face is all, “I can not BELIEVE I am doing this! How did this happen?”

fourth rehearsal

We had two 2-hour sessions with different variations of the band (scheduling has been tough), and were working on different songs in each session. This rehearsal might count for double, but that only matters if I actually think I’ll be able to keep count over the next few weeks.

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I have been given another new definition: songwriter. The look of shock and terror in my eyes…well, I guess my friends get used to this sort of thing from me, because Wes didn’t even slow down.
“If we keep calling her that, she’ll eventually start believing it.”
Truth.

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me: This song needs to have a different structure from that other, which starts small, builds up, swells to a clamor, then cuts to voices alone. I think we should start this with something MAJOR! (gesturing for emphasis)
J: You mean…a major key?
me: Oh no. I mean, like, epic! “Major!” It’s something Victoria Beckham always says. She’s…obviously…erm…one of my major musical influences!
W: What!? Posh Spice? You’re out of the band!

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third rehearsal

“Hey, can you come over sometime tonight? I have a new song I want you to listen to.”

A notebook filled with chicken scratch. A piano and a guitar. He plays the piano part, asks what I think. I can’t say without hearing how it pairs with other pieces. So he sings the song. It’s terribly depressing, but the melody is catchy. Once through, and he’s like, “Okay, your turn.” “No way! I don’t know it yet! You have to sing with me.” So we sing the first verse over and over and over again until I mostly have it.

Then, motives are revealed. I’m not just here to learn a song. I’m hear to learn how to be indie. He asks me to sing with more attitude. To accent certain words. To forget about proper phrasing. “You should sound desperate. And despairing.” He plays a few clips of other songs, voices he likes. And I realize that he wants me to sound rough. And ragged.

Maybe I should start smoking.

“I’ve spent a lot of time un-training proper choir singers.” I spend a lot of time laughing at what he’s asking me to do. Every time my voice cracks, I start giggling. One week after admiring his ability to sing even when his voice cracks, and to make that sound awesome, I’m being asked to do the same.

So we start coming up with a back story. I can’t just put on a sad voice. That doesn’t work. “Pretend you’re in a musical, and you’ve just put your child to sleep, and you’re expressing all of your fears, perhaps about the child, and even though you aren’t singing a lullaby to the child anymore, and you don’t want to wake the child, you’re still singing, because it’s a musical.” “So…I’m stage whispering?” “Maybe.”

“Okay, that’s good. But now sing louder. Not stronger, but louder.”

Then, I’m trying to exhale, fully, on every single word. By the end of the song, I feel like I’m going to pass out. After a few more attempts, I’m exhausted. The effort required to sing so differently, and so counter-intuitively, has me furrowing my brow and hunching over. I look totally belabored. Which, I’m beginning to suspect, is part of the plan. If I don’t look sad and defeated naturally, we have to trick me into looking that way.

“Could you sing with less vibrato?” “I’m not sure I can really control that.” “You know, I always used to think that people sang vibrato because they couldn’t find the right note, so they would just warble back and forth between the two best options.” (withering glare) “…not that I think that anymore! You sound lovely!”