Archive for Jamming

Shadows: An Improvised Film Score

Posted in Film Music, Playing Live with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 17, 2015 by Gideon K


This was a really fun project to do. A few of us were discussing the idea of doing an improvised score for a silent film or something like that. We wanted to do something experimental. Luckily, our filmmaker friend Fraser Watson was really up for the idea. I like working with Fraser because apart from being very easy to get along with, anytime you throw out a weird idea at him, something that could potentially be really fucked up, he gets quite enthusiastic about it – which I find both amusement and enjoyment from.

We ‘commissioned’ Fraser to make a 3-act 15 minute silent short film, which he did with customary aplomb and speed. Then we got together a few times to ‘rehearse’, which was essentially jamming along as we watched the footage, talking about what worked, what didn’t, and deciding in advance a few parameters to put limitations on so that we could have a starting point. To quote Charles Mingus – “You can’t improvise on nothin’, man”.

I say jamming, which it was, but it was jamming with a purpose. We had the image to guide the feeling and tone we should have been trying to create.


The music on the film was recorded at a screening of the film at New River Studios with the 6 of us improvising along with the moving image. Andy Watzik recorded the whole thing on his laptop and after a little mixing, the music was synced to the film.

We were all excited by how it turned out, partly because it was quick and relatively painless to put the whole thing together, but also partly because it was an interesting surprise to see how it turned out. As far as I am aware, none of us had done anything quite like it before

We’re currently looking for more projects to do another improvisation to, so if anyone is interested in collaborating with us, get in touch.


The other musicians involved were (and still are presumably):

Stephan Barrett – Piano
Danny Conroy – Keys
Dan Strange – Saxophone
Andy Watts – Trumpet
Andy Watzik – Guitar

And me on bass.



Songwriting Challenge Week 11

Posted in Songwriting, Songwriting Challenge 2012 with tags , , , , , , , , , , on May 14, 2012 by Gideon K
Ajax the dog - Photo courtesy of

Ajax the dog – Photo courtesy of

I tried a ‘new’ approach I’d been meaning to have a go at for ages. Start with a riff or anything and play it into the computer, then listen back, sing over it, or add another bit – let it all unfold piece by piece.

One advantage to this is that my conscious capacity is not burdened with trying to remember all the various ideas I had for it of where it could go and so on, I just lay them all down, react to them, rearrange them and play with them, put new ones down, adding and subtracting as I go – jamming with the software program essentially.

Another advantage is in the case of editing, speed and immediacy of cut n paste, instant arranging etc – far easier to work with in this capacity than tape. With this method I felt like I was working with an army of me as I could instantly react and come up with new parts and ideas.

What started as a 2 chord thing, got twisted into a weird bunch of rock riffs and lyrics about labs, pavlovian dogs, and ghosts. I still don’t really know what the song means exactly, or if it means anything at all, but there was a sort of insistent rhythm to how it came out.

I seem to recall something Bob Dylan said about songs being strange gifts of the spirits – they come and give you these songs, and then they go, and you don’t know what the songs mean, but there they are. I was trying to respect that aspect and feel that. It seemed to resonate. I didn’t want to feel like I was killing that mystical side off by trying to pin down all these words that just came, by insisting they made sense to me. I think that may have been a mark of restraint on my part.

Time will tell.

As I said I had avoided this approach, partially because I’ve always tried to avoid going anywhere near recording a song until it was ‘finished’. But part of this challenge, and my general quest is to find out where things work and don’t work, by trying things out for myself.

In a way I can’t believe I’d never used this process for actually writing songs until now, given that I often use similar trial and error processes for arranging song demos at home.

Whenever I ran out of juice I just stopped and picked it up again later or the next day. This approach seems a lot more fun, and rewarding for me than sitting down with an acoustic guitar alone to write a song – which I often find quite boring. My ‘successful’ attempts at that have all started long before I actually pick up the guitar itself.

Anyway, the train keeps rolling…