Looking at Percussion through a radical eye, while shaking off the cliches of our instruments, and seeking the danger within all things…
"No great art has ever been made without the artist having known danger."
~ Rainer Maria Rilke
Working With Gongs: Part 5 - Gongs as Hand Drums
Here it is, Part 5 of my Gong video series. This time I look at using Gongs as Hand Drums. Pretty cool stuff.
I've been hanging out in California for almost 2 weeks. In that time I've been to the ocean, I've been to the mountains, and I've been to the city. In each case, I've spent a lot of time listening to the sounds around me and absorbing the rhythms. There is so much we can learn from our surroundings just by paying attention. How often do we just go through our day giving little regard to the natural things happening around us?
Oceans of rhythm I spent this afternoon at the beach, walking in the surf, listening to the waves crashing, paying attention to everything going on around me. I heard new and different rhythms. I felt new and different impulses in my nervous system. I learned from the wind and waves things that I can bring back to my music. I learned things you can never find in books.
Wherever you live: ocean, desert, forest, or city, take the time to listen to the world around you and absorb the sounds and rhythms.
I'm sure we've all had those moments, the moments when we've played 8 beats, or even a whole song/composition, that sounds amazing, wonderful, beautiful. And that moment is transformative, because it feels so good. And we sit back later, going, “Oh, that was great!” But then we look at the rest of our playing and start feeling terrible, because we see those moments as some sort of black hole that we seem to exist in: “If only I could play great all of the time…”
Playing great is, well, great. Playing great is, well, great. But it's not everything. Yes, we should all strive to play the best we can, to make the best sounds, keep the best time, and just be the best we are capable of—but that can cause us to lose sight of the music. After all, we are here for the music. We are here to create something that comes together and becomes music. And sometimes music, and our performance of it, is less than great. But that doesn't mean it isn't worthwhile.
Life as an artist in any capacity is really a life of decisions. There are the every moment decisions: what step/color/sound do I take next? My recent blog series on concept/gesture/texture took a close look at those types of decisions that I take every day as a percussionist. But there are also a series of bigger decisions that affect the direction, or arc, of our life long career: what direction do I go in? Which group do I join? How much time do I devote to this? What is my ultimate goal/s?
Career type decisions are often deciding to be a jazz musician, or a classical musician, or a pop/rock musician. What direction do I go in? Or you can decide to be all of them. For many of us, life is a filter and things change throughout our careers. When were are young, energetic, and hungry for experience, we often take every gig imaginable, in all styles, and in every type of venue. In fact, this is advisable, as experience is the best teacher, and by trying new and different things, we may s…