Butter and Blackberry Jam

Well, hello, what’s this? Certainly not the downer piece I was expecting to write today. Sitting down to the keyboard, I loaded up a lovely Chapman Stick sample, and that opening riff is the first thing that came out of my hands. I recorded it before I noodled it away. The second, higher part was added, and I listened to that for awhile.

  1. Butter and Blackberry Jam Ray Toler 1:54

I wasn’t exactly sure what was going to happen with it. I felt like the first 16 bars were fairly complete, and the center section just seemed like a natural place to go, key-wise. But this is Song-A-Day. It’s time to take off the shackles and try something different. It’s time to do something courageous and stupid.

It’s time to write in 5/4.

I’ve never written in 5/4.

One of the limitations of using loop libraries for drums is that almost everything is in 4/4. Occasionally, you’ll find some 3/4 or 6/8 waltzy stuff, but other time signatures require specialty purchases. But Stylus RMX is not your ordinary loop library. It can remap normal places to stranger places. Places like 5/4.

At the end of the night, I wasn’t 100% happy with the remapping. It’s certainly not what a real drummer would have done, or what I would have programmed by hand, but the deadline requires compromise.

In addition to moving into new and strange (to me) times, I also tried some silly things with the patterns of the Chapman Stick. They sort of worked by themselves, then they stopped working mid-way through writing, then they started sort of working again in the full mix.

Since I was experimenting in the “I have no idea what I’m doing” style, I threw a second loop into the center section, but left it in 4/4. I’ve got it way far back in the mix, so you may not even hear it, but the high-hat patterns did create a nice variation. I’m not sure it worked, but it didn’t not work either.

I repeated the first section and added an ending, then started working on the funky drums. Because things are so repetitive, I spent a little more time with the programming to provide some variety and fun. I also threw in a transition sweep sound moving from the center to the third section, and tossed a pattern gate on it just for fun.

Finally, it was time for the solo bit in the center section. I’m really more of a “rhythm keyboard” player and not much of a soloist. Plus… you know… 5/4. The solo is ok. I’d love to hear what a really proficient jazz player would do there.

Butter and Blackberry Jam is exactly what Song-A-Day has helped me with the most. I might have done something like this in the past, but I probably wouldn’t have recorded it, and I certainly would never have shared it.

Oh, and the title? Well, my last-ditch attempt at procrastination for the evening was to make some toast with… well, you know.


  • All instruments: Omnisphere
  • Drums: Stylus RMX

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