For the 50th Time… / by Marcell Marias

By the time this goes out, we will have had our first studio session with (almost) everyone.  I hope to be able to report good things about that. 

However, before we get there, there’s a teeny thing I needed to do.  Finish up all my instrumental tracks.

One of them just about killed me, I won’t lie.

Funny thing is that it’s really not that difficult a riff.  It’s a repetitive 16-bar guitar hook.  It only happens twice.  So you think it wouldn’t be that hard.  But it’s the dominant part of the song it’s in.  It has to start strong and end stronger.  On a technical side, it also requires a fairly quick alteration between palm muting and picking.  So it’s not just bashing out slop chords, but it’s also not Flight of the Bumblebee.  Should be doable. 

And for the life of me I could NOT get it right.  Something was always missing in the performance.  A missed mute here, a wrong note there.  I added up the time usage while I was taking a frustrated break.  I had tried and failed to get the riff recorded correctly 50 times. 

So what do you do when you’ve blown it for the 50th time?

Play it for the 51st time.  Or however many times you need to so you can get it right. Or maybe even swallow your pride and re-evaluate the part.  Because that’s what it means to be a professional.  The whole is more important than any one part.  Get over yourself that you’re not a hot guitar player and serve the tune, anoN.

In this case, serving the tune was to simplify the riff down to the parts that were cool and iconic and jettison everything else.  6 takes later it was done.  And you will never miss the other notes. They weren’t really required. 

You know what?  Sometimes doing what you love really sucks.  It doesn’t make it any less cool that you get to do it.  But just because you love it doesn’t guarantee pure joy; sometimes it’s just soul-sapping work.  Just because you love it doesn’t immediately make you a master of it.  And it doesn’t always mean it comes out the way you envisioned it. 

That’s not weird.  That’s life. 

For the record, the guitar line that nearly did me in is the main verse hook from “House of Cards”.  That song should be out in the next 6 months.  And yes, you probably could have done it better.