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Talking While Playing, Sub Division, and Translating Scat

Talking While Playing, Sub Division, and Translating Scat
Mr. P.C. By

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Talking While Playing

Dear Mr. P.C.:

You are in the middle of an improvised solo, eyes closed, really in the flow, when someone walks up and starts talking to you. What do you do? Sure, I can have a conversation while strumming the chords to a pop song or some repetitive part, but while navigating the changes in real-time to a song like "Dolphin Dance," I just don't have the brainpower to have a conversation simultaneously. Challenges of the service industry musician.

—Dan, Atlanta


Dear Dan:

If they're going to intrude on your personal space, you have every right to speak your mind, even at the expense of your playing. Let them know what you're really thinking, starting with "E flat major seventh, Db major seventh over Eb...."

Subdivision

Dear Mr. P.C.:

Here's a timely question for you...

Say you booked a gig a few months ago, but you couldn't get your first call pianist. It's a nice gig that comes around every year, and your first-call player has done it since it started ten years ago. So you line up another pianist, but then—thanks to a shelter-in-place decree—the gig gets cancelled. My question is who are you supposed to use next year? Are you obligated to use your second-choice player because technically he was on the gig that was cancelled? Or does your band's veteran get rewarded for loyalty and longevity?

—Not Playing Favorites
 

Dear Not:

No matter which of them you book, you're just going to make the other feel bad, right? The only way you can completely avoid playing favorites is to book a guitarist. If the gig gets cancelled again, book a vibraphonist, then an organist, and so on. Eventually you'll work your way down to an accordionist; if the gig finally happens at that point you can be pretty sure you'll never get called again, which offers a tidy solution to the whole problem.

Translating Scat

Dear Mr. P.C.:

Does Google have a scat translator?  How are we supposed to know what those singers are trying to say?

—Shoobie Can Actually Translate?
 

Dear SCAT:

I Googled it, of course, and came across a helpful site. While it doesn't literally translate scat, it identifies it and finds the deeper meaning within.

Incidentally, this is how the term came about, because most vocalists, when they scat, sound like scat. They would do well to heed the page's warning on scat and "consider the health hazards associated it."

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