Gibson Les Paul
Fender Precision Bass
Line 6 POD
LM4 Vst Instrument
Model-E Vst Instrument
When a friend of mine asked me to contribute music for his independent film, of course I immediately agreed, but I didn't any idea about the type of material I would need to come with (I still have no idea what the film is about! lol). Well, I went down to his place and improvised this piece on the spot. It took just a few hours, so we worked pretty fast. He runs Cubase in his studio, which has a tremendous amount of useful plug-in tools...most notable, the VST Instruments.
VST Instruments are software based, virtual "instruments" - drums, bass, keys, etc...- that you can play or program, via MIDI, without ever leaving the Cubase environment! Very cool...So I quickly programmed and looped a drum beat with the LSM4 drum module (amazing 32-bit samples...and the ones you hear on this track are the default presets!), and then improvised a simple little funk bass line in the key of C (because I knew I would have to put some keys on there....so why not make it the white keys? lol). The bass line never leaves the general scale sound of the Mixolydian mode, except in the "B" section where it goes from a C7 to an Ab7. The bass was recorded direct into Cubase using his Fender Precision bass. The next step was to improvise some keyboard parts using the Model-E Vst synth instrument (although I probably should have done the rhythm guitar next!)
I then plugged into a Line 6 POD with his Les Paul (very nice!) and proceeded to improvise a rhythm track and then a lead track. The dirty tones in the lead track are actually on the same track as the solo (which is clean) - I just spun the dial on the POD to an overdriven amp model in the middle of recording, and...voila!
The MP3 was created from the rough mix CD I took home with me after the session. I was really suprised when I listened back to it, and the raw sounds were better than I could have ever imagined. The drum sounds were amazingly good (for a drum machine!), and the POD really suprised me (check out the couple of Hendrix-esque overdriven notes in the first "verse")...who knew that you could play funk on a Les Paul?
A few words about the scales and harmony used - as mentioned, the entire piece is C7 except the B section, which is C7 to Ab7. The main rhythm guitar part does not change when the bass goes from C to Ab - it just reharmonizes - which gives that section a nice, floaty, "pedal tone" like quality. If you make it to the guitar solo (about 2 min. in), I actually improvised a pretty interesting single-note solo (mixed with some cool double stops) using the C blues scale, C mixolydian scale, and the C# symmetrical diminished scale (for the more "outside" sounding licks).
In the end, my friend is very happy and I plan to do another session for him soon (maybe by then I will know what the movie is about!). I hope you dig listening to this rough mix, and hopefully it will provide a window into the creative process that sometimes works out in the studio.