Does the music really need me? Three counter examples…

My last upload (also called ‘remix’) on Wikiloops was the 99th, so my next one will be number #100 – and like most people do, I’m thinking about that a bit, contemplating about which song to choose to play upon.

And that also brings me back to an interesting thread and discussion we had on the ‘loops lately (or rather, which we’re still having), with the initial question from Wade “What type of player are you?“. I answered that one already, lengthily going on about how I found the loops and so on and so forth, but in general agree with what Klaudia (‘jamlady’) wrote short after that: something along the lines of “the music comes first” and/or “serve the music”. Well said, Klaudi! 🙂

So while thinking about my #100 I also found something incredibe, first on an album by my friend from Paris, Mr. OliVBee (and Ms Anne from sunny California), and now again from user ‘Filo974’ from Reunion: a fretless guitar (I think Filo even has more than one of these?). Listen:

On this lovely track which Filo played for his grandson Hector, there are two more uploads already – some keys by Mario (another very good bass player from Spain), and a violin by Jean-Paul whose tone I also love.

But does that track need me, or leave a bit of space for a bass? Tho it has another remix by a German bass player already, I’m not sure of that. Yes, I could ornament it all a bit – but in my opinion and in my understanding, music needs some breaks and some space to take a breath as well, just before the next one gets in with his or her awesome solo or melody. Filling these gaps would possibly do a disservice to the music rather than improving it. So while I love love love this track, with a heavy heart I gave up upon the thought of playing, took it out of my ‘watchlist’ and put it into my ‘hit list’ instead, to join dozens of other tracks which can’t be improved in my opinion (at least, not by me).

And the same is true and was done to Oliv’s and Anne’s “Shadowplay”. Listen to my first ever experience of a fretless guitar, played so masterfully by Oliv himself (between Anne’s great lines):

Well if this ain’t awesome then I don’t know what is. And no, it doesn’t have a bass (yet), and tho 5 people tried already, I didn’t even listen to one of them. Why not, if I don’t want to play? Maybe because of the same reason Oliv took exactly *this* version onto his album with Anne: the track has some certain kind of ‘airiness’, it feels light like a feather (tho it’s deep, dark, and blue) – playing a bass would probably rob the song of this light and airy feeling. So no, I had it in my ‘hit list’ already, and took it out of my ‘watchlist’ just like the one from Filo (and company).

And while these two examples stand for fretless guitar tracks (and I still would love to play on one), they also reminded me of another and much older track with just a singer and a piano. Listen to one of my all time favs from the loops:

Hurzel’s and Shi’s “When the lights go out” has 155 thumbs and 26 remixes, 11 of which are from bass players (as the first added instrument) alone. But does this track need a bass?

I doubt that, really. Maybe, just maybe if *I* would happen to be a producer and had to come out with making this the hit it deserves to be, I would possibly re-record it on a real stage and with a real piano in an empty ballroom (or with a dead quiet audience which wouldn’t be hard to get on this level), just a Grand Piano and that voice (taken with the best vintage tube mike I could find or rent). Would I add a bass? I don’t know. Charles Mingus isn’t around anymore, and I don’t know if Christian McBride or another great double bass player could improve this – but certainly not me (first, I don’t have a double bass, second, can’t play it on this level).

So this track will forever stay in my heart and in my ‘hit list’, but I’m really not sure if some day I’ll come back and play on it. ‘Serving the music’ can sometimes mean: leave it all alone, it’s great as it is. Such as these three examples.

So a big thank you to my friends over at the loops for their wonderful music – but none of these will be my next track to play on; they’re just too precious for me to ruin them.

As always, thanks for reading.

One Reply to “Does the music really need me? Three counter examples…”

  1. It’s heartening to hear from Wolfgang and others who also hear tracks as “finished” or where an add would just be egoistic clutter.

    Wikiloops doesn’t discriminate and allows any and all of us to add, distort, or do whatever we want, and lets the listeners decide what works for them.

    Indeed, it’s about being “IN” the music and a part of it, but how do we know if this works? Is it still just ego? I guess if the intent is to always put the music first, then hopefully, if done with honest intent, it will work.

    Another bigger debate in the arts is whether self expression is valid even if nobody gets or understands what you’re doing. There’s plenty of examples of artists who weren’t understood in their time, but this can also be a convenient excuse. For me the question must arise with myself. What is my intent in making art or music? Is it to just stand up and try to have some recognition?

    My simple question needs an honest answer from within. There needs to be a desire to communicate through or within a medium and give others a pictorial or emotional experience. Sincerity is the key. Does it always work? No, but that’s just the nature of communication, we can’t live in others perceptions, we can only try to communicate within our limitations.

    Wikiloops gives us an opportunity to hone our skills, but possibly more importantly test ourselves within a “safe community” and gauge if we are achieving our musical goals. The social aspects of friends continually giving support doesn’t always help the individual to know if they have been successful, unless you can “read between the lines”. Few venture to say when something doesn’t work. It’s just too easy to say “great”, “fantastic” or whatever.

    I don’t know what the answer is when it comes to desiring constructive critical comments, and it’s possible that Wikiloops will never be a conduit for us to receive that type of assistance. In the meanwhile it’s still the best thing out there.

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