Laramie/MusicProjects

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Yo! These are all really rough demos/song sketches. You have been warned. If you want to hear more polished stuff, head over here: http://LaramieCrocker.com

Below are projects I'm working on, and some recordings of what I've got so far. I'm working on getting some of my favorite players on the instrumentals and doing the vocals myself.

Read my musings about music and thoughts about the next album here.

Contents

Promotion

Redemption

Click here to listen to the rough mixes of my studio sessions at San Pablo Recorders:
Listen: Laramie/Music/RedemptionCD

  • Band:
    • Todd Sickafoose, bass
    • Ches Smith, drums
    • Gawain Mathews, guitar
    • Laramie Crocker, vocals


Poster from the Berkeley Hillside Club show <img src="http://redemptionopera.com/img/poster-8-sm.jpg" />

Here are the demo tracks, done before the studio session:

Funky / WebVideo

I want to record this song with live musicians, but below are links for drum-machine sketches. After that, I'm hoping to compile a video of local, Bay Area art that fits in with the song, and distribute it as a web video.

  • Perfect Crime
    • The right song form, but a bit slow: Listen
    • The right tempo, but not a song -- just a collection of ideas: Listen

Misc

Early [solo]

  • Why
  • Wanderstomp
  • Brand New Songs
  • The LaLa Song
  • The Last Time I Voted
  • More Songs

Gina H. Price (soundtrack)

Died Again

Nascent

  • The Great Divide


Bla Bla Bla

I'm currently interested in exploring these forces in music:

  • Percussion as a collection of instruments that individually and in combination speak to idioms in our heads that evoke memories and emotions
  • Harmony using choral singing
  • Tempos that breath or change, polyrhythm, and changing time-signatures such that the changes are felt but are smooth and not obvious.

I continue to view music as storytelling -- an art that allows me to express my inner emotions and story directly and vulnerably, without direct speaking. My feelings are often difficult for me to explain with spoken words, and many times, I have no desire to even try. With music and lyrics, I have more desire to emote and tell, and I find that others receive the communication more deeply. I think that I can effect other people more effectively, and with more beauty, with music.

I try to compose melodies and chord changes that play between evoking the known, and plugging into our collective western musical unconscious and pop references that tie to our memories on the one hand, and going to the unexpected to escape the trite on the other hand.

I've been working on soundtracks lately, and playing with the idea of telling story with sounds that are literal, and I've begun to be interested in representational sounds rather than literal sounds. For example, when you listen to Johny Cash and his band playing Folsom Prison Blues, you understand emotionally, and even viscerally, that there is a train involved, without having to have a recorded train. Even though Stevie Ray Vaughan can create the sound of a train with his guitar, and it's great when he does, that level of literalness is not necessary for our brains to feel the implied idea.

I was trained in classical music as a child, in the San Francisco Boy's Chorus, and both my parents are musicians and musical scholars. This gave me an appreciation of how composers can draw on an enormous palette of musical colors. However, as a child of the 60's and 70's, I have the Rock, Blues, and Funk installed in my head. I'm used to driving rhythms and regular time signatures. As a songwriter I've struggled with studio musicians and producers who strive for constant tempo, etc. And I've found musicians who enjoy letting the music breathe. I also find myself seeking out jazz musicians, because the emphasis on improvisation, reaction, and interpretation fits with what I want to create musically. Many artists in jazz also want to stick to steady tempos, but messing with tempo, and certainly odd time signatures is more in the jazz vernacular. In classical western music, we have concepts such as rubatto (litterally, robbing the time from the following beats to give to the current beats), fermata (holding one beat until you are ready to move on) and accelerando (speeding up) and decelerando (slowing down). I've been unwilling to give these items up as a composer/songwriter. And now, more than ever, I'm learning how to use them in ways that feel good to pop-music-trained ears. Two brilliant examples would be Jeff Buckley's "Grace" album, and a lesser known band "Lebanon" from Israel.

I intend my next album, "Redemption", to work these techniques for all they are worth: changing time signatures, tempo that breathes, interpretive percussion, layers of voices, and a mix of acoustic and electric instruments. And, of course, storytelling and emotional expression.

My lover and partner in art, WendiOlson, says Art can be judged by whether it moves us or changes us. I agree. And with music, I've suspected for a while that music is one of the arts that can affect both sides of our brain simultaneously, but in different ways. The Left-Brain can be happily occupied and stimulated by counting time and beats, calculating intervals, deconstructing song form. The Right-Brain can be swept away by emotional content, grooviness/funkiness, holistic blend and disorderly beauty.

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