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Showing posts from November, 2012

Defying Gravity - Part 2

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Grip. It's all about the grip. 
Having played percussion most of my life, I've played all the different instruments and all musical styles. Since delving heavily into the Gongs, I've noticed I've had to adjust my grip and playing techniques. As I detailed in Part 1, I've moved from a horizontal playing surface to a mostly vertical one. This brings about some fundamental changes in the physics & motion of the stick/mallet movement.


First, let's look at my standard mallet grip:



My grip changes somewhat depending on the diameter of the mallet shaft I'm using. With a larger diameter, sort of 5A drumstick or larger (like the Balter Wind Gong Mallet in the photos), I almost always keep my thumb past my forefinger. This gives me some leverage and helps to keep the mallet from moving too far back. The thumb and forefinger are still the pivot point for the mallet (it's a thumbs up grip). The remaining 3 fingers are the ones that activate the mallet, pulling it …

Defying Gravity - Part 1

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[The next 3 posts will be for Gong players, just so you know]

This post comes as a result of my Gong session at PASIC earlier this month. I ended up talking to people about grip and mallet technique. 1st, let me say that these are my ideas developed over years of playing. While I do have a lot of formal percussion training, playing Gongs is a whole other realm (BTW, I suck at mallet playing, like vibes, marimba, etc, so what I did at university in this area, besides the basic 4-mallet grip ideas, had very little affect on how I approached the Gongs). I've developed my grips with trial and error over time, and they are always fluid—things can change, so I remain flexible. 

Those of you who are highly trained mallet players may look at this and say, "Big deal." Well, since a lot of people who are taking up Gongs have little or no formal percussion training, this IS a big deal to them. As with everything I do, I don't claim to be an expert or the last word. I just do what…

PASIC - Part 3: Lessons Learned

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I remember going to some PASIC conventions in the past (mostly the 1990s) and coming away thinking many of the clinics were just wankfests.

Big name metal and fusion drummers, playing big drum kits, just wanking off in all manner of over the top technique. These big name artists drew in the crowds, but what they played was a lot like fast food, in that it filled you up, but didn't really last. If any lesson was learned by me, it was to try and be musical in my own playing.

I'm happy to say that for drum set, 2012's PASIC was all about the groove. Artists like Ndugu, Steve Gadd, Stanton Moore, Tony Smith, and Mark Walker all showed the beauty of the groove. Sure they all have great chops, but they also showed great restraint and taste in using them. And the grooves were infectious. You could just feel the whole room lock into Ndugu laying down Michael Jackson's Billie Jean. Bass drum on 1&3, snare on 2&4, 8th notes on the hi-hat. You can't play simpler than th…

PASIC - Part 2: Cymbals & Gongs

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One of the big things about PASIC is the manufacturer's exhibition. There you can play all types of cymbals, drums, mallet instruments, timpani, and percussion. You can also find all types of crazy little gadgets. All the publishers are there too, so if you need a book or DVD, it's probably there.

Cymbals—I got to play so many amazing ones. We live in the most amazing time to be a drummer, as there are literally thousands and thousands of different cymbals out there. This year's exhibit had a lot of amazing sounding ones.

Paiste's new 602 stuff was impressive. The new 602 Vinnie cymbals totally blue me away! The 24" 602 ride is an absolute joy to play—dark, full, yet with that 602 shimmer, and very responsive. I'm not one for big cymbals, but I could make an exception for this one. I know I'm PAISTE prejudiced, but this is one of the best ride cymbals I've ever heard (I am a big 602 fan and have a lot of old ones in my arsenal). The 22" Thin Crash w…

Post PASIC Report - Part 1

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I've finally seemed to catch up from my 4 days at PASIC in Austin, Texas. It was fun, intense, and seemed to go by extremely fast. Austin itself was a great town. The weather was warm, the people friendly, and the food excellent. My main reason for going was to present a session on Friday on The Healing Sounds of Gongs & Singing Bowls.

Yes, a Health & Wellness clinic
My session was 50 minutes long—how do you begin to even scratch the surface of something like Gongs & Singing Bowls in that amount of time? But I did my best to give an overview of my philosophy, what I do, and to take some questions. When you do a session like mine, under the heading of "Health & Wellness," you never know how many people will show up. You could have a room of 3 people, or hundreds (mine was somewhere in the middle). And the rooms don't fill up until the very last minute before they start because people are coming from other sessions scattered throughout the convention cen…