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Ssor Music Productions

Working Thru a Song

Big Butt and a Smile

By Michael Stevenson

This is a short narrative of how a song happened to happen. Almost every song starts a different way. Some songs start as a rhythm idea, a few begins life as a title or a first lyrical line or maybe a chorus. It could be a melody line that germinates into a fully blossoming song. This is about the birth of Big Butt and a Smile.

Ken sat down and played a partial progression he'd been working on. I kept it in the key he used.

First I worked out a pattern of the full progression and then put together some drum patterns on the Boss Dr. Rhythm. I laid a bass line and played it to the drums. While working on that I tried a line that went with the body of the song but would cause a very funky feel with the Intro.

I built the drums to start with the bass drum only; hitting on the four, building up with some hi-hat and lifting to break into the full-out tempo of the body of the song.

Ken and I had been talking about putting a break in the song so I told him that I had a half-time pattern inspired by a drum pattern that saxophonist Steve Davis of Omaha, Nebraska came up with to audition potential drummers. Steve and I played together in the show band “Sweet Taste of Sin”.

It took a minute or two to work up an appropriate bass line for that beat. The part that took time was coming back in with the drums after the two-measure break. Ken asked if I could come up with a fill to bring the body and patterns of the song back. Ken said “Think of a woman stripping out of her clothes; not a stripper but a woman taking off her clothes to a 'snake' type of beat.”

I used the studio's Ibanez bass on the bass line with a little compression/limiting to even out the signal. We played with some distortion on the bass line but it made it sound to “70's-ish.”

Next I played the rhythm guitar part with my Strat into my Roland GR-33 channeled thru a ZOOM 2000 processor, kind of a 'swamp guitar' thang. I put in a harmonics pad over the 'snake' break. Next came the single note part over the hook. After I laid it I told Ken, “I've been wanting to use a two-guitar harmony line in something; this is going to be it!”

Ken wanted a lead guitar solo in the song but I felt a lead guitar 'part' would work instead. Well, as we tried a few things, we ended up with the solo intro and the lead solo 'part' during the half-time break: not really a solo per se, but it served the purpose.

Ken said he thought that Amplitude had some great sounds to use when I wanted the Lead guitar sections to 'pop-out' as far as presence: as usual, Ken's idea was right on the money!


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Michael R. Stevenson of Stevenson Enterprises
Web Design by Stevenson Enterprises