27. This Is Rest (Cello Improvisation No. 1)

TOTALLY SHAMELESS SHOW PLUG: Thursday, February 4 @ Knitting Factory w/ KELLI RUDICK, 8 PM, $10 (Playing some songs from the 365. yay!)


Boom, boom, boom… shoo, shoo, shoo (I’m singing you a song.  It is 10:31 pm, and I still haven’t written a song.)

Amazing and fascinating elements which have occurred that I wanted to tell you about:

1. Collaborations have a whole new meaning for me.  For a moment there, I thought feelings of success with collaborations was only a sign that the songs I’ve been doing alone have been mediocre.  In talking about it with a friend yesterday, I see how selfish this thought was, and I realize the saying that “No Man is an Island” is totally true.  I so look forward to working with others, connecting with them, and creating something unexpected.  Because two, three or four minds are working together, the end result is bound to have a totally new kind of energy you just can’t get alone.

Also, it’s incredible to me the kind of memories I’m creating (listening to Emilyn and Anthony banter back and forth about lyrics the night we created You Don’t Know What You’re Doing, dinner with Franz and Marie listening to Ukrainian music, breakfast with Pam and Guy in Portsmouth, eating peanut butter and banana sandwiches at Hog Farm with with Lady Lamb the Beekeeper in Maine, a live performance for dear friends of our song A Thousand Thousands with Sam before PatB  left tour… the list goes on…)

2.  Yesterday was a rough day for me, but it was important and defining in that I realized how my thinking is being changed.  When I first started this project, the first thing Emilyn said to me was, “This is going to change your brain.”  Just as exercising makes muscles stronger, you know it’s working because it’s accompanied by some pain.  I think that’s what’s happening.  I can be okay with that as long as it doesn’t last.  Another point my dear friend made which I am clinging to:  Almost every artist releases a 12-15 song LP.  What we never think about is that those people had to go through numerous bad versions and poorly written songs to find those gems that make it to the final cut.  He said, “You happen to be showing us all the warts as you go instead of just the final product.”

3. I’ve realized the things about myself that have annoyed me all my life have been some of the strongest assets in this project as I’ve continued along these past few weeks.  I am, by nature or nurture, a procrastinator.  I spent so much of my education, in every field: academia and music practice, procrastinating.  I would find myself cramming the day before every test or totally faking the weekly advanced placement practice essay.  I’m not at all saying that preparing  earlier wouldn’t have resulted in a better product, no.  But I am saying that kind of adrenaline and stress can affect output.  This whole project is basically 365 of those “assignment is due tomorrow!” days in a row for me, and whether you like the product or not, they’re being created.  Reminding myself of that simplicity is important on the days that are harder.

I’ve had a lot of support, but also a lot of realistic responses like, “This is a lot to expect from yourself.  I wouldn’t think less of you if you quit.” or “It’s like one day deciding you’re going to lose weight, and just cut your calories one day to 100 a day… ”  I agree, but I’ve had so many kind people showing me they believe in what I’m doing, and that keeps me going, makes it easier, no matter how stupid I might feel on a given day.

So, basically, in closing: Thank you.  Thank you to those who have written to me in support and love and to those who have expressed a very calm, realistic perspective of support.  Thank you to those silent listeners who keep coming back.  And thank you to those collaborators with whom I’m gleaning so much from.  Experiences with you are invaluable, and I am so grateful.  I know I’m only just short of a month in, but I just wanted you to know.





This Is Rest (Cello Improvisation No. 1)

This is dedicated to those who cannot sleep tonight (mostly likely my dad and me, too, I guess, as it is now 2:07 am).

About this track: DAMN THE HISS ON THIS MIC ! Lame!!!  Anyway…Thanks to Guy Capecelatro III for suggesting a song today!

(Side note: The working title for this in garageband was “Joan Jett is My Mom”.) Because it was 12:30 am when I recorded this, I had to use a practice mute (My mute dampens the sound of my cello so I can practice early or late without pissing off people in the building- most of the time; this is why it sounds a bit fuzzy all over.  I used my rubber one only because I couldn’t find my metal mute.  The metal one is awesome.  It produces such a cool sound that I’ve always wanted to record.)  Cello pizz recorded first.  Improvisation.  Took first take.  Tried about 4 improvised arco tracks.  Taking the latter, though I cut it up a bit to over lap with parts added later.  Tried a tiny bit of improvisation with the voice.  Some of it is still there, though faint.  Added another layer of arco cello for color and texture at the bottom and as a response in some cases to the upper voice.

I used to do similar kinds of pieces as exercises all the time living in Salt Lake City.  I would improvise a line, recording it,  finish it, then immediately go back and improvise another line using the take I had just done as a marker, helping me to respond instantly to something that had just passed.  It was a good exercise, a freeing one at that.  This posting is kind of the same idea, though a little more stylized due to editing and mixing, obviously.

(My dog Lacey shook her head and her collar jingled towards the end.  She is laying on the floor next to my chair.)

Composition time: 30 minutes (not including mixing)

Feeling a lot better than yesterday.  All is well tonight.

Talk to you soon.

I love my Mom and Dad (No picture is safe!)

9 thoughts on “27. This Is Rest (Cello Improvisation No. 1)

  1. Firstly, the hiss adds a ye-oldy record player style spin to the song making it almost a soundtrack to a horror film or a black and white film noir piece. The audible counting intro adds a hauntingly dark and atmosphere setting burst of energy and the cello is a mixture between sad and strong, supportive and subtle. I absolutely love this, and I love you for pursuing with the project, for producing so much new material for me to listen to and for genuinely giving this your all. I wouldn’t be surprised if you were to say it was impossible because giving up would be, in a sense, the logical and easiest way out, but I am so much more impressed and surprised that you are able to persist this way, and it is a true indication of your ability as a musician, to make songs that I want to listen to time and time again.
    The mixture of lighthearted and heavy music is a true pleasure.

  2. This is great Emily – again, I love it. Improv is so neat … wish I was better at it. Keep your chin up girl, this is an awe inspiring project. Soak up all the positiveness (is that a word?). Until tomorrow, cheers.

  3. Hey Emily!

    I found this through another friend’s blog. What a fun project! I’m really excited to see how it evolves! I’ll be touring in NY this summer (at NDCA, in fact) and I’d love to get together. It’s been too long.

    Cheers from Ireland!


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