Make A Good Sound

One thing I stress to my students is, make a good sound. It's not enough to just play the notes correctly, or to have a lot of feeling, you have to be aware of the sound/s you make. Think of any musician you admire. I bet a big part of what attracted you to them was their sound. You can probably also pick them out from other musicians because their sound is identifiable. 

As a drummer/percussionist, don't just hit your instruments! 

  • Think about what you are doing. 
  • Think about the stroke you make. 
  • Think about how your stick/mallet makes contact with your instrument. 
  • Think about how you release that contact. 
  • Think about the resulting sound.

Stick & mallet selection…

Sound is very important to me. Whenever I play, I always bring a large assortment of sticks/mallets/beaters in order to facilitate getting a wide array of sounds from my instruments. And when I play, I'm always thinking about and listening to my sound. Now what's a good sound in one musical situation may be a bad one in another. Everything changes with the music, with the venue, with the acoustics we have to deal with. So I'm always aware of my sound in the room, the space, the air around me. And I make changes accordingly.

Another part of this is intention. It's not enough to just make the physical motions, you have to intend to get the sound you want. A good example of this is a recent Gong Meditation Session I presented. Afterwards, my wife said, "There were a lot of low tones tonight." This was what I was feeling and working to draw out of the Gongs. My intention was to bring out the lowest tones I could. That is what I did.

And just to clarify things, by good sound I don't always mean pretty sound. If you are playing some beautiful marimba piece, then yes, you may want to produce a beautiful sound. But I also like to play improvised music using sheet metal and scrap metal. The sound there is not beautiful, but I still strive to create a good sound based on both the music and the instruments being played. 

So don't just hit things, make a good sound!

~ Mb

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