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Showing posts from April, 2012

Sound, Texture, Options & Imagination

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Welcome to the final installment of 10 Weeks to Better Drumming. I hope these thoughts and ideas have helped you see both your music and drumming in a new perspective, and possibly opened up some new ideas.

What does this sound like?

I'm more about sound & texture than I am about technique. Whereas It seems most people are chasing technique on a daily basis. To me, technique is merely a means to an end. That's not to say technique isn't necessary, but that playing paradiddles at 280BPM isn't the end all, be all, of drumming. I would rather have reasonable technique with a good sound, than astounding technique with a poor sound. But then, that's just me.

What does this sound like?

I tend to obsess over sound & texture the way most drummers do over technique. No matter what instrument I'm playing, I am always looking for both a good sound from it, and possible new sounds. Texture is another world entirely. I have bags full of different sticks/brushes/mallets/…

Life Beyond the Drums

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10 Weeks to Better Drumming - Part 9


OK, so you play drums and have your stuff together. You can swing just like Tony & Buddy, rock just like Neil & Lars, and groove just like ?uestlove & Ndugu. And to prove it, you posted drum karaoke videos of you all over the web playing to your favorite tracks. We're all suitably impressed and I'm sure Jeff Beck, or somebody, will be phoning you shortly to offer you a gig.


But seriously, so many of us are stuck in a box—stuck in a box of drums only. We listen to drums, watch drum DVDs & videos, go to concerts to see the drummers, but we miss out on all the other stuff going around us because we are too focused on just the drums!


I love drums. I listen to a lot of drum recordings, but I also listen to a lot of other music, even stuff without any drums/percussion. As much as I've been influenced by various drummers over the years, I must say that I've been equally influenced by singers, saxophonists, violinists, etc. In …

Tam Tam vs Gong

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I can't tell you how many times this argument of "A tam tam is not a Gong" comes up. It came my way no less than 3 different times this week.


Actually, 'tam tam' (also tam-tam) was 1st used in symphonic music back in the 1800s to differentiate a flat faced Gong from a Gong with a raised center 'boss.' (There is no definitive answer as to where the term tam tam originated - some say it's Chinese, some say it's Hindi, still others say it's something else…) To add to the confusion, 'tam-tam' is a term often used for either anAfrican djembe or talking drum.

When a score calls for a 'tam tam' (like Messiaen’s 'Et exspecto resurrectionem mortuorum' or various works of Richard Wagner), then a flat faced Gong, like a Chinese Chau, is used.



Flat Faced Chinese Chau Gong/Tam Tam


When a score calls for a 'Gong' (like Puccini’s 'Madame Butterfly', or 'Turandot'), then a bossed Gong, either tuned or untun…

Where We Live

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10 Weeks to Better Drumming - Part 8


After the past 2 weeks of looking at both notes and spaces, this week we look at the present, the moment, the now. Too often we seem to be preoccupied by something other than what is happening right now. The best musicians are thinking about and playing the notes as they happen, in the moment. They are living things as they happen, not living in the future, or the past.


Where I used to live…

Don't think ahead, live in the moment/the note you are playing. Too often we are thinking ahead, worried about the next note, the next phrase, the next song. We might also be troubled by "Monkey Mind," where we are thinking of anything but the task at hand. We might be in the middle of a song and suddenly think about a TV show we watched, or the bills we have to pay, or a million other things beside the music.



Where I now live, in the moment…
Or we might even be thinking too much, trying to achieve some sort of perfection, but missing being in the mome…