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Showing posts from March, 2012

"Space is the place!" - Sun Ra

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10 Weeks To Better Drumming - Part 7

Last week we talked about notes, lots of them, all lined up one after another. This week we want to become more aware of the space between those notes. If you look at drums & percussion, most sounds are very short, so short that with say, a quarter note, we only really play the very beginning of the note. The rest of the note is silence/space. So even in a very busy pattern, we are probably playing more space than actual sound. Now if we play notes far apart, the amount of space between them is huge. 


What do we do with that space?
How do we accurately account for it?

When playing drums, percussion, and especially Gongs in a Meditation context, it's absolutely imperative to be aware of the space, as much as the notes.


Feel the space

Let's look at some exercises to help us become more aware of the space between the notes:


#1 - Start with 1 note and 3 equal notes of silence (you can think of these as quarter notes & quarter note rests)


1 2 3 …

Truth and Consequence

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10 Weeks To Better Drumming - Part 6


The truth is, everybody wants to be a better player. The consequence is that often small things or adjustments lead to that improvement. This is one such thing.

This exercise will work for everybody. If you play drums, get a pair of timpani mallets to use. If you play Gongs, get a pair of smaller Wind Gong mallets.

For drums, use a larger Tom, like a floor Tom, because you want to hear the resonance, and the way the longer notes blend into each other (You can actually use any stick/brush/mallet on any drum/cymbal/pad, but I like how it works with a soft mallet on a large drum). For Gongs, use a Chau or Wind gong 20" or larger. 






The idea is to play steady 8th notes with one or the other hand. Start with your right - start playing a steady stream of notes -


RRRRRRRR…

Don't worry how long or how many, just keep playing them. You want to listen to them, feel them, even see them in the strokes you play. Make sure each note is the same. Get into the f…

No Sound Is Innocent

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So here we are in the 5th week of 10 weeks to Improve Your Drumming (or whatever art discipline you practice). I hope you're still with me, and more importantly, I hope you've gotten something out of these blog posts to help improve your art. And it's not just about improving your technique—playing super fast paradiddles does not necessarily make one a better drummer—but I hope you've been able to improve your ideas and your approach/outlook to your drumming (or art).




This week's assignment is to step out of your comfort zone and be creative from your heart & soul. For drummers, I want you to raid your kitchen or kids toy closet, or go to a thrift shop/flea market and get 5 objects that you can make a noise with (you can shake them, hit them, bang them, etc.) There are 2 parts to this exercise:Play something you know, something familiar with these new sound sources. Listen to how the music takes on new shapes, new dimensions, and rewards you with little unexpec…

Don't Ever Apologize for Your Art

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10 Weeks to Better Drumming - Part 4


How many times have you seen someone post a soundclip/MP3 on the web and write something like: 


"Sorry about the quality of this track. I can't afford time in a real studio, so I recorded it in my bedroom on my computer" 

(I actually received this in an e-mail with a link today). 
Or how about seeing someone live in a club: 


"This is a new song we wrote, sorry if it's not that good yet."
What is your initial reaction? Are you persuaded by their statement, thinking it will not be very good? Sure you are! I know that I am.




If something really isn't ready for public consumption, then don't reveal it until it's ready!!! You only do yourself a great disservice by releasing inferior product that you don't believe in.

On the other hand, if something really is good, and you believe in it, then don't ever apologize for it! Yes, it may not be at the same level as  many well established artists in all disciplines, but p…

Truth is No Stranger to Friction

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[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:
Layered rhythms that are separate, but exist in the same musical space.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 patte…