The Master Sauce

The defining characteristic of a master sauce is that after initial use, it is not thrown away.  Instead, the remnants or juices are reused for future dishes. With each use, the ingredients absorb the sauce’s flavour while imparting their own back into the stock. In this way, over time, flavour accumulates in the stock, making it richer and more complex, while subsequent dishes absorb these flavours and likewise become better, more intense and tastier. So, there you have it!

I’m a fan of The Master Sauce. Not just in the kitchen where each addition has to be carefully stored, covered and not left to infuse the entire fridge, but also in the studio where building onto a previous incarnation is often impossible to avoid.

I have found myself writing a jingle or TV track which more than likely gets used as requested or commissioned.  But then follows the very likely chance that the next few tracks have similar qualities or melodic structures as to frustrate and beg the question; “Why didn’t I submit this version instead?”

But under the sub heading ‘Nothing should be wasted’, I have found other uses and equally ‘tasty’ reactions to these audio accumulators.

What you do have to be careful of is nicking other people’s ‘Master Sauce’.

It’s an easy thing to hear something subliminally on TV, radio, anywhere and immediately think: ‘That’s one of mine!!, I think I’ll develop that idea!”

There lies the path to ‘Lawyers at dawn’ and potentially very large bills.

With the relative confines of only twelve notes, it’s staggering that there are so many variations. From songs to symphonies, new ideas spring forth on a biblical basis. It’s not surprising therefore that lines get crossed and ideas, inspirations, riffs, hooks and sometimes entire products get copied, poached or indeed stolen.

I’ve just finished two tracks ably assisted by the lovely Terl Bryant playing drums and percussion. He sent me some drum tracks set to a specific BPM and I decided that I’d write something jazzy and laid back. I think it turned out OK but then I thought I’d use the exact same drum track and write something moodier and more atmospheric. Again, a completely different idea based on the same ‘master sauce’ with the drums.

So often a song can morph into another idea that at the time you think is too close to the original. It’s only when you step back and listen objectively you hear different things and more than likely notice stuff in there you actually prefer.

Never waste anything! You can be creating a track that simply isn’t working for you. Leave it, have a break, make a cuppa or take a walk. Coming back to it can re-energize and produce better and different thought processes, adding something new to an existing ‘master-sauce’.

Equally, when trying out various ideas, you come across something embedded in a loop or sound that immediately inspires for another track. Start working on that too. It’s all part of the journey. And then, as if by magic, you end up with several tracks that started out as one; All based on the same initial bit of inspiration but strangely and tantalizingly becoming a new table of dishes and tastes.

Test out the master sauce next time you need inspiring or you have a blank session. It’s a tasty treat that keeps on giving.