Truth is No Stranger to Friction


[Apologies again for multi/cross posting, but hey, they are my blogs, so why not…]

This week I was busy working on a new drum set duet. As with most compositions, this one started out with a basic rhythmic idea that I would elaborate on. I was listening to a classical music radio station and one of the tracks played caught my attention. I listened for a bit, jotted down 2 basic rhythms on a piece of paper, then shoved the paper in my pocket for later reference. A few days later, I looked at the paper and started playing around with the rhythmic idea. Example #1 shows the basic rhythmic motif: drum set #1 plays a repeating 3-beat pattern on the snare drum, while drum set #2 plays a repeating 4-beat pattern on the high tom:


click on example to enlarge

The ideas here are:

  1. Layered rhythms that are separate, but exist in the same musical space.
  2. Staggered rhythms (in the example we can see that for every 4 times the pattern in 3 is played, the pattern in 4 is played 3 times, then the 4-bar pattern starts over).
  3. A sense of friction as the 2 rhythms move against each other.
  4. A sense of sameness, leading to the mind to go into a trance, or hypnotic type state, as the 4-bar pattern is repeated throughout the whole composition.


I like friction between rhythms. I like the way 2 different rhythms can move past each other creating a 3rd, larger meta-rhythm. I'm fascinated by how different rhythms interact with each other, and how we perceive those interactions (and also how we physically feel those interactions).

The next idea, in example #2, is to move notes to other drums, but making sure they are random instead of having any discernible pattern:



In many ways I'm treating these as 2 separate drum parts that just happen to be in the same composition. This random movement of the drums hopefully produces more friction, and even more of a sense of randomness.


Finally, in example #3, 2 new ideas are added to the rhythmic layers:



  1. Drum set #1 adds a bass drum playing once every 7 notes played by the hands.
  2. Drum set #2 adds a bass drum playing once every 5 notes played by the hands.
The idea here is to introduce a 3rd & 4th rhythmic layer where both follow a strict pattern, yet because of the rhythmic structure, they appear more random and create more friction between the different rhythmic layers.

So this is one way I think, working with patterns and finding interesting ways to weave different patterns together.

~ MB

Musical examples from Drum Set Duet #13, © 2012 and reprinted with kind permission of Intuitive Arts Media.

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