At the bottom of last week's post (here), I mentioned that I'd recently lost my friend Cory to a tragic accident. The day after I found out he was gone, I sat down and wrote a fiddle tune that channels some of my favorite memories of Cory. In remembrance of him, I thought I'd share it here.
A fiddle tune I wrote last week called "Pig Roast with Cory." (solo banjo)
Cory was the bass player for my band down in VA. Several years back the band made the collective decision to turn our profits from gigs into Pig Roasts for all of our friends (i.e. parties we threw at which, you guessed it...we roasted a pig). Rather than writing a mournful tune after hearing he'd passed on, I decided to try to capture those weekends with Cory, which are memories I'll always cherish. I made a lot of decisions while writing the melody that were intended to tie the tune directly to Cory; I'll outline the writing process below so that when you hear (or play) the tune, you can hear him in it.
The first phrase of the A part (which ends ~ 8 sec into the above recording) was rattling around in my head while I was making coffee and thinking about Cory the morning after he passed away. In my mind this phrase is the musical representation of our first effort at roasting a whole pig, which was a bit primitive in comparison to where our pig roasts ended up with Cory's help. Though the sight of a whole cooked pig was quite the spectacle for our friends, it was clear to those involved in the first pig roast that the process could stand some improvement the next go round. Cory, an Engineer, was of course up for the task; soon he took the reins as pit master....which is an impressive title for a Midwesterner at a Southern BBQ! As Pig Roasts continued, Cory's extended family even started making a pilgrimage to join in the fun - the rest of us got to sit back and drank his fantastic home-brew : ) To capture Cory's quest for Pig Roast perfection, the rest of the A part is spent repeating that first phrase with an interesting tweak (a slightly-unexpected D major chord) and a cool tag added on the end....both of which definitely improve the basic theme to my ears.
Like many fiddle tunes, "Pig Roast with Cory" has an AABB structure and the B part mirrors the A part with just a few deviations. First, there is a quick succession of 1/8th notes (i.e. "A, G, A, G, A, G, A, G, A, G") that begins the B part (~29 sec into the above recording) and occurs again in the middle (~36 sec). These phrases were intended to represent Cory's natural inclination to tinker (in fact I silently sing "tin-ker, tin-ker, tin-ker, tin-ker tinker" along to these notes)....in this case, Cory was tinkering with the fire. Cory didn't sit still for long during the Pig Roasts (or in general). He would frequently open the door to the pit and use his infrared thermometer (that guy was full of gadgets) to take the temperature of the walls of the roaster then adjust the fire accordingly. Secondly, I decided to end the first phrase in the B part on an E chord (~33 sec into the above recording; I play a "power chord" but I think an E major would work there), which sticks out a bit. Here I was imagining Cory playing bass on this tune with me - I just think he would have enjoyed getting to take a few beats on his lowest note. A couple of times, I talked with Cory about installing a C extension on his bass which would have allowed him to go even lower (and would have saved him a bit of right-hand effort on C tunes); given a couple more years, I have to guess that he would have built his own from parts he found sitting beside a dumpster : )
As I said last week, to see Cory at a pig roast was to see a guy in his element. I'd encourage anyone reading to pick out "Pig Roast with Cory," pass the tune around to your friends, and think of Cory while you play it.
About this blog
I have lots of ideas about banjo playing and music in general - this blog allows me to get them all out of my head and see what you think.