Andrew and I have been working on getting a new band together, and of course that means making charts! Our first rehearsal will be this weekend, so we set a deadline of today to have charts and mp3s ready for all our band members. Taking a bunch of songs off the record and making accurate charts within the space of a few days is pretty tough, especially with all the other stuff we’re doing. But Andrew and I found a way to make the job much easier…by each contributing our strong points to the project!
Andrew, a percussionist, has an extremely well-developed sense of rhythm and time. My sense of rhythm is, err, sorta OK…but I am good at hearing pitches and spelling out chords. On top of this, he’s a night owl, while I’m a morning person. So, he’d sit late at night and tap out all the rhythms for every instrument. Then, I’d wake up in the morning and plug in the pitches. We ended up burning through the process much faster than we thought we would–our 1st two tunes were done in under 2 days. And, with each tune we do, our pace gets even quicker.
Talk about symbiosis! Dictionary.com has 2 definitions of the word that apply very well to Andrew and I: “the living together of two dissimilar organisms,” and “any interdependent or mutually beneficial relationship between two persons, groups, etc.” There are some things about us that are completely opposite, like our sleep cycles and our musical comfort zones. But these fit together SO well! I thought the chart-writing process would be a royal drag…but it’s quite a lot of fun when you have a great partner to work with.
Writing charts is a great way to practice a new style of music from the inside out, as well. In transcribing horn lines for different songs, I’ve started to pick up on the types of harmonies and textural devices typically used in this style of music, and the rhythms are getting much more familiar as well. It’s cool, because writing these charts is helping me learn the language of a new style of music. And once you have a working knowledge of a stylistic language, you can start saying your OWN things in that language!