The Music Of JC Harris

positively the most intelligent progressive rock on this here planet

positively the most intelligent progressive rock on this here planet


Invent Your Own Language!

While Rog is away, I culled this from the editing floor of our previous rants on ‘Creativity’. I went off on a jag about ‘language’ and improvisation. I don’t think readers understand how much editing he does on each of these little chats. As we all know, even the most interesting conversations can sound pretty crap to the outside world in their ‘raw’ format. Our average conversation lasts fifteen to twenty minutes, but somehow he manages to squeeze them down into the 800 or so word rants you see–blissfully free of my fits of profanity, inanity and ‘like, um and ya know’. I should be a lot more appreciative. But what to give the guy who has everything? 😀

JCHI had this friend back in Detroit I went to votech with. He had this gag when we were studying hard stuff. He’d start acting all (sorry) ‘retarded’. Spastic twitching, etc. And he’d say “Myyyyyyy braaaaaaaain hurts.” You know… like how computers in movies used to actually smoke and flame when they were supposedly “thinking too much”.

RCLike Robbie The Robot.

JCHRight. And then he’d start spewing these nonsense words. Usually “Ork. Gleep. Grobick”. It always slayed me. I connected it with this old Jetson’s episode where the robots fall in love and start acting crazy. I’m a sucker for anything like that. I just think funny noises from machines is a crack up.

RCA man making a machine act like a frustrated man. I can see the ‘therapy’ in there.

JCHSo then my kid and I started watching the new Star Trek and he went NUTS for all the Klingon-talk.

RCYou were into the actual language?

JCHOh Hell, no! That whole Klingon Dictionary thing? Puhlease. Just the noises.

RCHang on. I was googling for some examples as we were talking and it’s all people trying to speak real Klingon. Here’s a guy doing ‘Hamlet’:

JCHThat’s ridiculous. I mean, can you even imagine a Klingon being that introspective? Christ. Now they’ve got me taking that shit seriously. Anyhoo, pretty quickly, I just started making my own nonsense intergalactic language.

RCLike Chaplin with his fake German in The Great Dictator.

JCHExactly! The classics never go out of style. By the way, the really funny part of that is when he salutes the crowd and they go dead silent.

RCLike a noise gate. Now that is power.

JCHIndeed. It’s pretty easy to make your own faux language with nonsense words. The trick is to get the rhythm of it… and of course as I keep saying, to not feel self-conscious. That’s why doing it with kids works. It gives you permission…

RCTo act childish. Come to think of it, I’ve noticed you seem to come up with a lot of fake drug names.

JCHRog. Have you asked YOUR doctor about SILANTROPIX? As long as they have a vaguely ‘Ancient Greek’ sound, yer golden. And then you can throw in other technical terms that having nothing whatever to do with anything. I mean I was working with an eight year old so it’s pretty easy. You just have to act like Worf or Jabba The Hutt…

RC…or John Belushi. But what’s the point? This is the motherlode of all tangents. Even for you.

JCHA couple. First, I’m pretty sure that to yer brain, improv is improv. You can’t practice yer guitar all the time, but you can pretend to be “Kempek Grand Lord Of The Flotarian Empire!” … er… more of the time. It’s like what Lincoln said.

RCAll of the people, some of the time. I get it. So putting in a few hours making nonsense sounds will help my guitar solos?

JCHYes. Improv is improv.

RCWhat it is the Car Guys say? “Bogus”. But whatever. Next.

JCHNo, it’s B-O-O-O-O-O-O-GUS! But seriously. Put in the hours making up anything and it all goes into the same ‘creativity bank’.

RCThe Creativity Bank?

JCHPatent Pending. But feel free to use it. In any case, I think there is a strong connection between talking and singing and playing. So, think of it like scat singing. So many people are impressed by George Benson or Slam Stewart doubling themselves, right?

RCThat is very cool.

JCHWell, the real trick is knowing what to play, right? Not leading with yer fingers. Being intentional. But that’s for another day. For today, let’s get back to Jabba The Hut. When you get off the phone…

RC…the Skype

JCHWhatever… when we ring off, I want you to fire up Return Of The Jedi and go to the scene with Jabba laughing at Luke. And don’t hit pause for the gold lame bikini!

RCWhy am I doing this if I’m not going to pause for the gold lame bikini?

JCHI want you to come up with a guitar solo that matches, as closely as possible, Jabba’s speech. I don’t mean inspired by, I mean that sounds like Jabba.


JCHSeriously. Pretend you have one of those old Talk Boxes. Your job is to make your guitar sound like Jabba. I don’t mean like Steve Vai with a wah, I mean the pitches and the rhythms.

RCCheck out this Spanish language version of Yankee Rose

JCHOh man, thateven better! You can do that over the top, “Most Interesting Man In The World” deal.

RCI don’t see how Jabba works for, say country music.

JCHI assure you it can. But if that doesn’t work for you, I coulda given you this same exercise with a Baptist preacher sermon. Or some speech from Shakespeare would work too. Or even a tobacco auctioneer going to town. But Jabba is cool because he’s abstract. You’re not concerned with meaning because it’s nonsense. So you can just feel free to ham it up.

JCHIf you think about it, speaking is a very subtle form of music. You can get all kinds of good ideas just listening to people. Not to what they’re saying but just to the music. Kids develop this ‘filter’ where they only hear the noise of people lecturing them.

RCLike the teacher in those old Charlie Brown shows.

JCHEXACTLY! That trombone is priceless. That really is how I used to feel when I was a kid. If you can re-learn that skill, like when yer in a doctor’s waiting room or on a bus, you open yourself up to a whole new world of creative inputs. Just by being bored!

RCI’m starting to get a feel for why you’re always so distracted. You’re listening to everything except the person in front of you.


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