Saturday, November 30, 2013

The Sock Thief

The Sock Thief (mp3) (pdf)

I usually find some time over the Thanksgiving weekend to work on music. This year I came up with (among other things) a waltz that I'm calling "The Sock Thief."

This tune is at least partially inspired by the great new book Timeless: the music of John Abercrombie (with commentary by the composer), a collection of original tunes by one of my favorite musicians. I've been a big fan of Abercrombie ever since I bought the first Gateway album (his trio with Dave Holland and Jack DeJohnette) back in the Seventies. I have dozens of recordings of him, either as a leader or a co-conspirator. I especially love the two duo records he made with Ralph Towner (another of my favorite musicians and composers)  and I have a great memory of seeing/hearing the two of them in concert long ago in Louisville. His playing is awesome and his tunes are always interesting. So I love this book.

Time after time in his commentary Abercrombie talks about one of his tunes as being "simple." I have no doubt that he sees these tunes that way but, for me, they are beautifully complex. On Thursday morning I sat down on the bed with my mandolin and, after playing bits of some of the tunes in the Timeless book, I set out to write a simple, but interesting, tune.

Simple is not usually a problem for me and this one started out nicely. I turned off my inner editor ("Oh please, not another A minor arpeggio!") and had a lot of fun. Trouble was that I pretty quickly veered off into multiple sections and lots of notes. Over the course of the next couple of days I whittled most of that away until "The Sock Thief" is now about where I like it. Hope you enjoy it too.

On the technical side, if you sometimes suffer from the "other" MAS (in this case "microphone acquisition syndrome", rather than the more common "mandolin acquisition syndrome") you might be interested to know that I used a brand new MXL 991 mic to record my old Gibson (still with the same Thomastik strings I put on back in September). I purchased it this week as part of holiday special sale, together with the larger MXL 990, from Musician's Friend for only $70 for the pair. They aren't Neumanns but the 991 seems to be a fine mic for only $35. (No commercial interest on my part.) I haven't even plugged the 990 in yet, so I can't vouch for it.

Anyway, give "The Sock Thief" a spin and see what you think.

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