Clocking Out – [a brief commentary]

Clocking Out is a short A-B binary form jazz sketch, featuring live improvised solos on both the piano and overdriven clavinet (with manual wah via a mod wheel). An mp3 download is available to visitors of my BMC profile [clicking here will redirect to the BMC profile on a separate browser window] and it can also be viewed on YouTube from April 16th, 2021.

Clocking Out adopts some stylistic elements from recent tracks posted on YouTube but is not thematically connected and stands on its own. The track is a fusion of influences from my ‘recreational music playlist’, including references to: Steve Vai (building the church), Jeff Beck (blast from the east), Mark Knopfler (private investigations) and generally nods to the music of Jordan Rudess and Joe Satriani.

The introduction [fig. A below] features a looped passage using a Kora [which was the closest artificial sound I could get to a ‘shamisen’ on my edition of NI Komplete]. The passage is doubled by the bass guitar and looped throughout the introduction. The keyboard line was recorded on a Scarbee A-200 using NI Komplete, via Logic. The subdued walking-pace rhythm gives the sensation of seconds passing by whilst the faster juxtaposed kora and bass lines give a sense of urgency and continuation. Essentially, the clock is ticking!

[fig. A – introduction to Clocking Out]

Bar 5 [fig. B] sees the introduction of a syncopated piano backing. Despite the backing of the passage being somewhat repetitious, the piano’s rhythmic syncopation and harmonic dissonance enables variety and suspense while building towards the introduction of the improvised solo passages.

[fig. B – bars 5 – 8]

The backing from bar 15 [fig. C] is reduced to just the piano, bass and drums. This enables enough room for improvised instrumental solos from both a solo piano and an overdriven clavinet. This was my first attempt at recording a clavinet using manual wah via a mod wheel – it took some getting used to as the sustain pedal (a more natural application for wah) would cut the tone and I was reliant on using the mod wheel during rapid passages but I am happy with the overall effect.

[fig. C – B section backing loop]

After the first round of solos, the music returns to it’s A-theme, building towards a second round of live solos which feature arpeggiations, cross-handed playing in the piano line and again frequent wah manipulation using the mod-wheel.

The relatively straightforward AB structure and notated figures in this commentary should help in setting up your own backing if you want to try the track out for yourself. It was good fun to improvise over!

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