Interviews with Music Fans (Part 3 of 3)

3 Hour Tour Group - Interviews with Music Fans

Interviews with Music Fans (photo by Sereyna Avila)

PARTS 1 and 2 of the Series
Interviews with Music Fans-Part I of 3
Interviews with Music Fans-Part 2 of 3

Music brings people together. The photo above is a group shot of musicians and music fans from The 3 Hour Tour.  I’ve interviewed, or will interview soon, many of the musicians above. We were all brought together by Erin who’s included in the interviews today. Music is a very personal and subjective topic to all of us.  It has a deep, powerful and individualized effect on us.  Yet, I believe, the best musical moments are shared musical experiences.  Magical performances that you share with friends or strangers (that may even become friends). I started this series because my experience and perception of musical performances is so different than someone who doesn’t play an instrument.  I, in most cases, know exactly what notes they’re playing, what the chords are and why those chose them, what the rhyme scheme is maybe even what lyric is probably coming up next, why the instruments vary what they play on each section….. maybe even what they could do to make it better.  I have to make myself pull out of and turn off that analytic side and just enjoy and experience the moment.  There’s magic that can happen on stages, in coffeehouses and even on Yachts and you don’t want to miss those moments.  Just last night I was playing with an incredible singer as a duo.  We’ve never played as a duo, never rehearsed and decided what songs to do right on stage.  But something happened and we just locked in together and went to the same places, made the same choices.  It was magical and having played gigs for almost 40 years I know that does not happen every night.  The small but engaged crowd knew and were silent for the set.  We heard from so many people afterwards that they knew something special had just happened.  We all need more magical times in our life and music is a pretty good place to find magic and share it with your friends.

These last 3 people are special to me.  2 of them are at almost every gig I play and sometimes even the rehearsals.  The third organized one of the most memorable music afternoons of my life.  Hope you enjoy this final, for now, episode.  Thanks for being part of this.

Erin (Nashville, TN)

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Our Scattered Words: Have you ever played an instrument?
Erin: I took piano lessons for a number of years, but can’t play much more than Mary Had A Little Lamb, Heart & Soul, When You Wish Upon A Star and Penquins at Play from my Primary lesson book.

Our Scattered Words: How many shows/concerts do you attend a year?
Erin: Back in my mid-20’s (the wild days) I went to 2-3 shows a week.  I think I saw more than 200 performances in a single year at my pinnacle. These days, with life demands getting in the way and less energy in my 30’s I probably get out to 2-3 shows a month if I’m lucky.  Having just moved to Nashville I have a feeling that number is going to spike a bit more again this year!

Our Scattered Words: How does music effect you at an emotional level?
Erin: It takes me back to places and times.  I can remember the day some songs were debuted on stage (i.e. were born).  I can remember where I was when I first heard them on the radio.  Sometimes the lyrics hit me in such powerful ways I just break down (especially worship music) and sometimes when a day is rough I just need to crank up a song with a good beat (preferably old school rap/hip hop) and listen on repeat til my stress goes away.  Music is a very emotional experience for me, and having the opportunity to me and be friends (albeit distant for many) with the people who write and sing them only add to the depth it can tie me to songs emotionally.

Our Scattered Words: Does instrumental music connect as strongly with you as music with lyrics?
Erin: I rarely listen to instrumental music unless it’s something I’m playing in the background to help concentrate (i.e. classical).  I connect much more with music that has lyrics, and moreso lyrics that speak to me.

Our Scattered Words: Does recorded music have the same impact as live music?
Erin: To some extent yes, a song can hit home just as much live as it does when I hear it in my car on the drive home, or when it comes up on my iPod or through Spotify as I’m getting ready in the morning.  However, the experience of live music always adds another dimension to music that can’t be captured in a recording.  The energy of the fans taking in the live music, seeing the performer deliver the song, watching the background music come to life through keys and strings and hits on drums all adds a much fuller sensory experience to listening to music.

Our Scattered Words: Do you have certain songs connected to important moments in your life?
Erin: Absolutely.  Each and every playlist I have takes me to one place or another.  My past, my present, this experience, that memory, those people, this roadtrip, that time in my life.  I even have songs that I imagine dancing to at my wedding (despite the fact that I haven’t even met my husband yet).  Music being able to bind itself to key moments in my life is one of my favorite attributes about it.  Putting the iPod on shuffle is like taking a walk down memory lane.

Our Scattered Words: Have some of the musicians you support become close personal friends?
Erin: I don’t use the term “friends” as loosely as Facebook.  I tend to call them “musician friends” if they are artists that I like to support that I have come to know in going to their shows over the years who know me. If we don’t typically share meals together when we get together, chat on the phone or talk about subjects other than music – I don’t usually define them as a friend.  A handful have definitely become close personal friends, and I’m very blessed to have found them through music.

Our Scattered Words: What could musicians do to help make performances better experiences?
Erin: The best musicians know their fans, cater to their fans, appreciate their fans, and tailor their sets to what makes it the most enjoyable experience.  It really doesn’t matter if they forget lyrics, have a mishap on stage, it’s the realness and vulnerability they bring to their set that makes it fun to be a part of.

Our Scattered Words: What do you wish that music fans who are not as strongly connected as you understood more about music?
Erin: How great of a connection it can be between people, you and your emotions, experiences that will be the most memorable in your life and so much more.

Our Scattered Words: Any other thoughts on why music is important?
Erin: It’s the cheapest therapy you can ever buy!

Cathy (Dallas, TX)

Interviews with music fans

Cathy

Our Scattered Words: How did you first connect with music?
Cathy: When I was about 6 years old, my mom was a big Broadway musical fan. Talent shows and music on the record player filled many days. Then came the Beatles, need I say more?

Our Scattered Words: Have you ever played an instrument?
Cathy: I tried the piano but just did not work..could play a bit by ear, but reading music and making my hands do what the sheet music said was just too frustrating. I resigned myself long ago to let others play the instruments the way they were intended..

Our Scattered Words: How many shows/concerts do you attend a year?
Cathy: I used to do at least 5 or 6 big concerts a year, along with some smaller local ones. The cost of those big shows, a desire to invest my hard-earned dollars where I think they can do the most good, and a desire to have a more personal experience, has me focusing my attention on local talent and smaller venues. I go to quite a few shows doing that!

Our Scattered Words: How does music effect you at an emotional level?
Cathy:  Music speaks to my heart and soul. It revs me up and slows me down, it makes me cry and makes me laugh. It makes me think.

Our Scattered Words: Does instrumental music connect as strongly with you as music with lyrics?
Cathy: Humm, yes I listen to instrumental music almost as much as a song with lyrics. The instrumentals fill your senses with the unspoken passions of the musician(s) and give the music a freedom that reaches beyond words. It amazes me the way some instruments, such as the guitar, sound as if they are speaking words to me, or burrowing the notes in my head and heart.

Our Scattered Words: Does recorded music have the same impact as live music?
Cathy: Depends on my mood, and who I am watching. For the most part, live music is the most fulfilling because I can actually watch it being created, the improvisations, the attachment between the artists and audience. But I love rocking, dancing and singing in the living room too!

Our Scattered Words: Do you have certain songs connected to important moments in your life?
Cathy: Sure, many. Most of the important moments somehow connect to a song, since music is so important in my life.  “All My Lovin’” by the Beatles takes me back to the real beginning, “So Low” by Linda Ronstadt still brings out the tears, and “Dancin’ in the Dark” by Springsteen, well, I will keep that to myself!

Our Scattered Words: Have some of the musicians you support become close personal friends?
Cathy: Yes, I feel a real connection to musicians/artists. Perhaps because I connect to music so strongly, not to mention musicians tend to be more expressive, creative and connected to what life is. I love to watch the creative process. Through these wonderful friendships, I feel the music on an even more personal level than I thought was possible.

Our Scattered Words: What could musicians do to help make performances better experiences?
Cathy: Play your music from that place way down deep in your soul – believe in yourself!

Our Scattered Words: What do you wish that music fans who are not as strongly connected as you understood more about music?
Cathy: I wish more music fans would be appreciative of the time and energy it takes for an artist to create and perform. Music is a gift from, musicians are sharing a part, a moment of their life with us. While not all music appeals to everyone, music is hard work, it has meaning, and importance to the artist that created it.  Respect that if nothing else.

Our Scattered Words: Any other thoughts on why music is important?
Cathy: Music is life.

Netty (Fort Worth, TX)

Interviews with Music Fans

Netty

Our Scattered Words: How did you first connect with music?
Netty: We did not have a tv in our home when I grew up.  We did however have a radio which was almost always turned on to jazz and classical music.  When I was about 5 I asked for my own radio and cassette recorder.  When I moved from The Netherlands to the US I had 2 suitcases with me.  One was filled with cassettes containing music, the other was filled with “stuff.”

Our Scattered Words: How does music effect you at an emotional level?
Netty: Music may give me energy, help me focus, allow me to easily connect to feelings of happiness.  As a child I always listened to music while doing homework.  It was almost always instrumental music, most of the time jazz, sometimes classical.  During difficult times, it helps take the edge off pain, both physically and emotionally.

Our Scattered Words: Does instrumental music connect as strongly with you as music with lyrics?
Netty: Stronger actually. For me it is easier to experience instrumental music.

Our Scattered Words: What do you hear in the instrumental music that draws you in?
Netty:  Brass instruments; phrasing.

Our Scattered Words: Does recorded music have the same impact as live music?
Netty: Live music is what I prefer.  Live music allows for a very different connection to the music, including a physical connection.  I find myself hearing the music differently and believe that’s impacted by the visual experience.  With live music you never know what to expect, especially in jazz.  There is a different level of excitement, in part because of others in the crowd.  There is nothing like being in a room of music lovers and great musicians.  The energy that is created can result is the most amazing musical moments that will last a life time.

Our Scattered Words: Do you have certain songs connected to important moments in your life?
Netty: Absolutely.  Some are connected to travel, while others are directly connected to people, or periods of sadness or joy.

Our Scattered Words: Have some of the musicians you support become close personal friends?
Netty: Yes.

Our Scattered Words: What could musicians do to help make performances better experiences?
Netty: Possibly share more of what is happening on stage for them.  It’s not about whether your performance is technically perfect, it’s about how your interpretation and presentation of the music makes us feel.

Our Scattered Words: What do you wish that music fans who are not as strongly connected as you understood more about music?
Netty:  That listening at a live performance will enhance the experience for everybody 🙂

Our Scattered Words: Any other thoughts on why music is important?
Netty: As a “foreigner” I can attest that music is truly a universal language.  While two people speaking a different language may not be able to “connect” emotionally, music can change that in an instant.  For me personally music has helped me learn, heal, feel at home anywhere, and imagine the impossible.

PARTS 1 and 2 of the Series
Interviews with Music Fans-Part I of 3
Interviews with Music Fans-Part 2 of 3

Thank for for supporting music, creating music, reading about music how ever it is that you’re involved! Please follow the Facebook Page for more updates and songwriting posts. Send us a message on Twitter and tell your friends, neighbors and relatives about us, if you like.

Now go out and listen to some live music with your friends.

Thanks also for spending some time here,
Our Scattered Words

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Adam Levy

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Adam Levy

Adam Levy is a craftsman, in his Guitar playing, in his composition, in his lyric writing and in how he thinks about music. Or maybe Master Craftsman would be more appropriate;

Master Craftsman- An aspiring master would have to pass through the career chain from apprentice to journeyman before he could be elected to become a master craftsman. He would then have to produce a sum of money and a masterpiece before he could actually join the guild……

Adam is an incredible Guitar player in all styles.  He tells interesting stories in his lyrics with a unique perspective. But, he can tell his story much better than I can….

Adam Levy
Current City- Los Angeles, CA
Record Label- Lost Wax Records
Most Recent Release-  Portuguese Subtitles (2013).
Band Affiliation- The Mint Imperials

Brief Intro/Bio
I’m probably best known as “Norah Jones’ guitar player,” though I haven’t played with her since 2007. I was featured on her first three records and toured extensively with Norah from 2002 thru ’07. I’ve also recorded with Amos Lee, Tracy Chapman, and many other fine songwriters.

I started writing my own songs in 2002, sort of on a dare from Norah Jones. (She recorded that first “dared” song I wrote—”In the Morning”—on her second album, ‘Feels Like Home.’) This was a pretty big step sideways for me, having been a jazz-oriented guitar player for the 15 or 20 years prior. I kept on writing and found my own style, and eventually started performing and recording my songs. Since then, I’ve released six song-oriented titles on my own Lost Wax label. I’ve continued to write and release jazzier music as well. (My next release will be an all-instrumental album called ‘Town & Country.’)

What is your songwriting/composing process?
I write lyrics first, always. I’ll usually start with a title, or some kind of phrase that I want to work into the lyric. (I’m collecting titles and interesting phrases all the time, keeping notes on my iPhone.) More often that not, I’ll use a fixed meter and rhyme-scheme. I may borrow a meter and/or rhyme-scheme from a classic song, or make up my own. I try to do something different each time. For example, if the last song I wrote had a four-line verse form with 10 beats (syllables) per line, I’d challenge myself to write in a completely different form the next time. I don’t want to write the same song over and over again.

Once the lyric feels complete, I’ll read it aloud several times and try to hear the melodies inherent in the poetry. When the melodies begin to take shape, then—finally—I’ll pick up my guitar and try to find some chords that feel right.

Now, this how I write on my own. Co-writing is usually quite different from that—the process varying from song to song, co-writer to co-writer.

You do a lot of collaborating.  Do you enjoy writing with someone else?
I do, perhaps because of my background in playing jazz and improvised music. When I’m writing alone, it can feel a little lonely. But when I’m collaborating with someone in real time—bouncing ideas back and forth—that feels kind of like playing jazz.

What are you most proud of?
The fact that other songwriters have recorded and performed some of my songs. That’s something I really never dreamt of when I started writing.

I like that you are open to trying different things in music.  From the Jazz chords of “I Wish I Could Change Your Mind” to simple I-IV-V when needed, you seem comfortable doing whatever is best for the song/story.  How did this develop?
Jazz had been my comfort zone, for many years, well before I ever wrote lyrical songs. When I started writing songs, around 2002 or so, I made an effort to write with mostly I-IV-V sorts of progressions. I really wanted to develop my lyric-writing skills, and I didn’t want to use my knowledge of jazz harmony as a crutch. And, of course, I-IV-V was the harmonic language of most of my favorite songs— from blues to Bob Dylan to the Beatles. Little by little, I learned to use the chords as a kind of underscoring—setting them behind a lyric in a way that helps tell the story. I don’t have a formula for that. I just experiment until it feels right.

Anyway, I think we’ll always find new ways to put words together. Chords, on the other hand, tend to follow patterns and routines. I don’t fight the chords’ natural tendencies, and I’m not afraid to borrow chordal ideas from songs I love.

Do lyrics come quickly or do you revise them over a period of time?
Lyrics tend to come quickly for me. If they get revised, it’s not by sitting down to intentionally revise them but rather via incremental changes that happen naturally over time as the song gets sung again and again.

Is rhyming still important to lyric writing?
It is to me—if only as a mnemonic device to help me remember the lyrics when I’m singing! Seriously, though, there’s magnetic power in rhyming. Then there’s Lucinda Williams’ “Lake Charles”—which doesn’t rhyme at all (except in the middle 8)—and is a thing of beauty.

What is your favorite songwriting lyric?

I want to have fun, I want to shine like the sun
Want to be the one that you want to see
I want to knit you a sweater, want to write you a love letter
I want to make you feel better, want to make you feel free

(Joni Mitchell’s “All I Want”—from her 1971 album, ‘Blue.’)

What advice would you give to young songwriters/composers?
Write a lot of songs! Write and write and write. And read a lot—fiction, non-fiction, poetry, whatever. The big idea is to go as deep as you can into the world of words.

You must have some favorite songs—classics, current hits, or anything at all. Take one of your favorite songs apart to see what makes it tick. What’s the structure? What’s the rhyme scheme? What’s the meter? What’s the chord progression? Learn to sing and play the song, then try to write something of your own using a similar form. Repeat this process as many times as you like.

If you could go back and be part of any album session what would it be?
Talk Talk’s ‘Laughing Stock,’ from 1991. This record is an utter enigma to me. So beautiful! I don’t know what I would have added, but I wish I could’ve at least been a fly on the wall.

If you could sit down and talk about songwriting with anyone, who would it be and why?
Tom Petty. He seems to have figured out many the mysteries of songwriting, yet he still sounds so down-to-earth when he sings his songs. That’s hard to do—to be so fussy, yet deliver the goods in an unfussy way. I’d like to talk about that, and about his writing process in general.

Adam on the Web

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Bonus Materials
To view Adam’s selected playlist and other bonus items, please go to;

http://www.ourscattereddreams.com/songwriting-blog.html

All interviews and Bonus Materials will be archived alphabetically HERE for easy access in the future.

I truly appreciate everyone that has stopped by, talked about this blog and/or shared with friends. Please continue to share this page and site with fellow music lovers. Next time you’re out at a venue watching music, ask the performer(s) about songwriting, music, lyrics etc. You’ll enjoy it.

 

 

 

 

 


 

 


Dan Haerle

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Now for something (or someone) completely different…..

Dan Haerle is a legendary Jazz musician and educator.  He’s one of the primary reasons that myself, and many other musicians, came to Denton, Texas to attend North Texas State University (now known as UNT).  I’ve had the honor of working with him as a colleague that past few years also.

Dan Haerle currently resides in Denton.  His most recent release, “Live at Luminous Sound” was released by Seagull Recordings and featured his group, The Dan Haerle Quartet.

BIO
Dan Haerle was a faculty member in the Jazz Studies Division of the College of Music at the University of North Texas for 34 years. He has recorded many Jamey Aebersold play-alongs, has several jazz text books published, is an active jazz clinician nationally and internationally. Dan has performed with artists such as Dave Liebman and Pat Metheny and, in 1975, he toured the U. S. and Europe with the Clark Terry Quintet.  Dan was inducted into the IAJE “Hall of Fame” In 2003, He was awarded a LeJENd of Jazz Education distinction in 2012.

What is your songwriting/composing process?
No set approach. Sometimes I start with a melody and add chords later, sometimes I write a chord progression and add the melody later. Sometimes I find myself playing a piece at the piano and then write it down.

What are you most proud of?
My daughter. And a 40 minute piece I wrote under a National Endowment for the Arts grant in 1976 for piano and symphony orchestra.

What is your favorite songwriting lyric?
Lorenz Hart’s lyrics with Richard Rodgers music like Mountain Greenery, “There’s no keener reception in this greenery…”

How do you decide on Chords to match your melody?
Any chord root can go with any melody note and generally I pick chords with strong functions that establish keys like II-V-I progressions, etc. Also, I like stepwise progressions, either rising or falling by 1/2 steps.

What advice would you give to young songwriters/composers?
Write a lot of music but have a big wastebasket! Every note you write is not going to be sacred! Also, if you are not sure about what to do with a work in progress, put it aside and return to it days, weeks, months, even years later!

Dan on the web
http://www.DanHaerle.com

Bonus Materials

To view Dan’s selected playlist and other bonus items, please go to;

http://www.ourscattereddreams.com/songwriting-blog.html

All interviews and Bonus Materials will be archived alphabetically HERE for easy access in the future.

Thanks for stopping by.  Please share this page and site with fellow music lovers.

See you back soon,

Mike