Letters From Hamburg: In The Studio

by Kevin Burton

    I had been looking forward to and working toward last Friday, my consultation day in a local music studio.

   So how did it go?

   A reasonable question, but one without a firm answer at this point.  I was pleased with it. It was fun. The time absolutely flew past. But a true assessment of the visit will have to wait. 

   The purpose of the three-hour session was for the producer to hear me play and sing 16 of my original songs.  That much certainly was accomplished.

   He told me he wasn’t going to give me much immediate feedback on the songs to as not to interfere with my musical vibe.  He stayed true to that.  I was watching from the corner of my eye for body language to give something away but I didn’t get much. 

   I was nervous but not disastrously so.  I sang a little worse, but played keyboard a little better than I had expected.  I was very close to perfect on the right hand part of the bridge to my song “Yesterday Hideaway” which never happens.  I just thought that was funny.

   Decoupling my poor playing from my singing greatly improves the singing and slightly improves the playing. 

   The producer recorded my imperfect versions of the songs and said he will go over them in days to come and give me some more detailed feedback. 

   This was not my first visit to a music studio but it was the first time I had performed any of my originals. 

   Every other time I have been recording cover versions of songs. These covers were to be used as demos to get me gigs, not one of which ever materialized. 

   One thing I was not expecting is how tired I would be after the session was over.

    It was a stressful week because of health concerns on my wife’s side of the family. Then I had to go to plan B on my transportation to (and from) the studio and that plan B was 20 minutes late.  I took my keyboard to the session to add to my comfort while playing but I wasn’t sure it was going to fit in the vehicle.  It did, but then I had to stress over whether it would arrive safely in once piece. Again, it did.

   Add to that the stress of performing before a professional music producer who would eventually pass judgment on my work.

   When I got back home it was like a weight lifted off me.  I sort of collapsed.  I went into that mode where I don’t dare attempt anything too complicated.  I completed some simple tasks, but mostly asked Alexa Myers to use her artificial intelligence to play 70s tunes.

   I thank God for what He allowed me to accomplish. I also point to Mark Twain, who said, “I’ve had a lot of worries in my life, most of which never happened.”

    The feedback on my tunes will be interesting to say the least, but there is not a lot at stake right away.  The first step is just to get the songs recorded and copyrighted formally. I hope to do that whether he loves them all or not.

   That would accomplish my very basic goal of allowing those songs to live on beyond my lifetime. 

   After that stage, things could get interesting.  If one or more of the songs is deemed to have commercial value, that begins the process of cracking a notoriously tough market, popular music. 

   The good part there is, it doesn’t even have to be used for a record.  I am an old man now. Having my compositions made into bank commercials is just as good if it helps pay the bills.

   Anyway, in my post-studio “Hamburg” practice sessions, I played a completely different set of 11 songs over the weekend.  Some of those songs are incomplete and that re-started my creative juices.  Mining the capabilities of my Yamaha keyboard, not to mention my own, gave me another surge of musical energy.

   Much as I like many of the songs I have written, I am convinced my best songwriting is ahead of me.  I just hope I can get some other people interested.

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