6: RT List Q & A - July
7/6/2007 (updated 7/6/2007)
25. How difficult is it for you to learn/remember lyrics? Any tips for
learning lyrics, apart from constant repetition?
RT: The way we teach kids to remember their multiplication tables, or their
Latin verbs, is to make it into a song. When you set anything to music, it's
easier to remember. Additionally, song lyrics usually have a logical
progression, so one thing leads to another. I keep 'cheat sheets' at my feet
in concerts for new songs, or ones that won't stick, but I know that
crutches slow down the learning process. If you asked me for verse three of
anything, I might be stumped, though - I need to start from the beginning
and work through. Those who resort to the Autocue, once they get used to it,
will probably have a hard time going back.
(PW: I just was musing whether it was easier for you to recall songs you've
written yourself, because they are self-penned; and also whether your
ability to recall older material very quickly has changed. In my case I can
much more easily think of the lyrics of a song I learned 20 years ago but
haven't sung since, than I can those of one I "learned" and performed six
RT: I find old lyrics are OK once I've looked them over - I'm usually OK
with current repertoire, or recent repertoire.
26. Do you read and write standard music notation? If so, do you use it
often in communicating with other musicians? Did you write out the parts
for the string players on "She Sings Angels To Rest"? Would you consider
reading an important skill for young musicians just starting out?
RT: I do read and write standard notation. I did write out parts for the
string players on 'Angels To Rest". You have to choose whether to be
schooled, or be a naive, depending on what you are aiming for. What I say to
my son, a budding bass player, is - do everything, learn everything, it will
all be useful at some point. If you can play orchestral, jazz band, jamming
at the blues club, do it. Learn from everyone and everything.
27. How much input do you give other musicians on your recordings or live
shows as to what their parts will be? When you write a song, do you have an
idea of what the drum part should sound like, for instance? On live shows,
do you tell Pete Zorn which instrument you'd like on a particular song, or
does he come up with that on his own ?
RT: On record, I'll give guidelines if needed. I try to book musicians with
good studio instincts, that don't need too much telling. On the road, we'll
start with recordings of live shows or studio, and take it from there. I'm
not dogmatic about playing the parts too closely - I like the band to feel
free to vary and improvise night to night. I usually suggest an instrument
to Pete for each song...sometimes I'm wrong.
28. I started playing acoustic guitar in my late 40s. Do you have any
recommendations about stretches or exercises for guitarists? I have had some
trouble with my right forearm and elbow (I play right-handed) and also find
that my left hand cramps up sometimes - especially when having to do
something that combines a barre and the use of the pinky.
RT: I do exercises fairly specific to my own problems (mostly tennis elbow)
that are too tricky to convey here, and I think everyone is different in
some respects...generally, stretching everything is good, reaching for the
ceiling, touching your toes, and stretching in a way that is the opposite of
the guitar position. An example of that would be: stand right-side-on to a
wall, arms length away, and put your right palm flat against the wall,
fingers pointing to the right, wrist rotated as far as you can to the right.
Slowly rotate the trunk of your body a few degrees to the left, keeping your
elbow straight, and increasing the tension on your fingers, wrist, elbow and
shoulder. This helps unwind those 'guitar' muscles. For the cramp in your
left hand, you need to massage - you can do this yourself, or find a good
therapist. Is there someone in your area who specialises in musicians, or is
otherwise inspired and intuitive at solving those muscular aches and pains?