Fun in the UK Part Two: The Busman’s Holiday

I was lucky enough to have a day off in London during the Swingles’ Production trip. So how did I spend it? Recording, of course…

… but this time I was on the other side of the microphone.

Last year, I met world-renowned producer/composer/arranger Dr. Richard Niles through Myspace. After our first face-to-face in London on my first Swingles trip earlier this year, Richard said “next time you come to London, let’s record something”. Sure enough, Richard decided to take one of his tunes and write a 6-part a cappella arrangement.

The song’s called “Tame Thy Pen”, and Richard wrote it while he was a student at Berklee, under the tutelage of Pat Metheny (the song title’s an anagram. Get it?). It’s Richard’s “greatest jazz hit”, and is featured in The Real Book, basically the jazz musican’s Bible. But, it was written for guitar, not voice. Richard asked for some notes on my vocal range, and was kind enough to get me the finished chart the day before the session.

And boy, was I glad he did!

Richard describes the lyrics as “my lament to being told to write less throughout my career”. Well, Richard showed them (and me) by jamming every note he could into this chart! It was, to say the least, quite acrobatic, zany, and a complete gas to sing. By the time I got through four hours of vocal calisthenics, we ended up with this. Take a listen…

TAME THY PEN {audio}Tame Thy Pen.mp3{/audio}

(R Niles, performed by D Bell)

Dylan and Richard Niles

Hope you like it! Thanks to Richard for an amazing opportunity, and to his engineer, Ben Fenner, for putting up with the madness. Richard put up a nice article called “Dylan Sings Niles” about the whole experience on his myspace site : check it out!

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