Canadian Musician

EXPLORING YOUR SONG ROUTES

Dale Boyle


The “Right” Musicians to Realize Your Songs

As a songwriter, I spend a lot of time “in my head.” I typically work alone to compose music, write lyrics, and establish a working arrangement for my songs. Those steps are lonely! Oftentimes, it is only at the point of being in a recording studio that I work with other musicians to realize my songs. That step can be tricky! If the musicians are not a good musical fit, you may find yourself trying (and perhaps not fully succeeding) to coax out a particular type of performance. That can be both frustrating for the artist/producer, and, at a certain point, really unfair to the musicians on the session. However, pick the “right” musicians and more or less, things can fall into place. And by “right” musicians I mean people who instinctively play in a manner that you admire and that you feel is fitting with your music.

Case in point: A year or so ago I set up a recording session with an incredible rhythm section: drummer Kenny Aronoff and bassist James LoMenzo…and I recently had a second in-studio recording session with Kenny and James. In both instances, the sessions flowed seamlessly. And the reason for this goes beyond them being great professional musicians…That’s important of course, but they were also stylistically the “right” players for how I envisioned the music. Their musical sensibilities resonate with me (which is why I contacted them in the first place), so at most I was a facilitator on those sessions…I just let them do what they do and the end result was even beyond what I envisioned.

While I tend to write alone, I’ve come to see the careful selection of session musicians as such a key aspect of the songwriting process: A final step in documenting and realizing the songs. As a songwriter, it is incredibly gratifying to feel that a song has been well served, or as with Aronoff and LoMenzo, not just well served but elevated!

– Dale

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