Part 2 of my 7-part series, about Randy Avers (read part 1).  Randy is one half of the fabulous duo, Les Frères Méduses, who are writing and performing the original, live film score for us that will be performed on June 22nd to open our summer series.  Info here.

When the Alamo’s Tim League asked me about creating an original film score for one of his favorite silent films (“The Unknown,” 1927, Dir. Tod Browning), I knew that no other duo on the planet was more perfect for the task than Randy (who is based now in Norway) and his amazing French duo partner Benoît Albert.  Randy and I went to college together and I wanted to share a few stories.


“A-M Journey” (part 2 of 7)

At Oberlin Randy was always coming up with new things.  Writing pieces, improvising things, playing pop tunes in various degrees of manipulation.  When Tuck Andress came out with his Michael Jackson “Man in the Mirror” arrangement (watch now), it instantly became a favorite of Randy’s – one he even played in Austin years later as an encore for a concert he gave at the home of Jeff and Gail Kodosky!

Once in “Robertson”, the Oberlin conservatory practice room building where we spent most of our lives from ’92-’96, I went in to Randy’s practice room on a break.  He told me that the next “big thing” to practice was A-M independence.  “A”, in guitar, means your right-hand ring finger, and “M” means your right-hand middle finger.  If you’re not a guitarist, and you haven’t thought much about it before, take a moment to appreciate that A and M are not terribly independent fingers!  When you move one, the other one wants to move too!  So, naturally, on the guitar, one of the things we try to get good at, is alternating the two back and forth with relative independence.

So there he was playing the guitar’s highest string with “A”, and the guitar’s second highest string with “M” back and forth, repeatedly and rapidly.  Not really all that cool to listen too, but I could see the value in the exercise.

So he’s sitting there, grinning at me, playing the top two strings of the guitar and talking about how important it is to develop A and M.  Then he says: “So I’ve come up with this exercise…”

And he proceeded to add the intro bass line of Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing” underneath the continuous A-M alternation – and proceeded on to play the whole song!  This is how technical practice can be fun!

Read Part 3….