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Showing posts from February, 2013

Break All The Rules

For percussionists (and artists of all genres), these are the rules:
1) There are no rules.
That is all. 

Learn it. 

Remember it. 

Live it.













Now to be serious. 

I am serious about the above. How often do we let what we think are rules get in the way of what we really want to do? Let's face it, we live in what is often a very harsh and fickle society today. Do something wrong, and it's posted on the internet for all to see. Your mistakes could go viral! No wonder people play it safe, follow trends, and don't do what they really want to do. It's not easy taking a chance and being a rebel. It's not easy breaking whatever rules you believe are there, even if they are only in your own mind.

A favorite quote of mine is by the great poet, Rainer Maria Rilke: 
No great art has ever been made without  the artisthavingknown danger.
Think about it. Painter Pablo Picasso decided to paint people as disproportionate geometric shapes. Jackson Pollock decided to drip paint over the canvas he…

Beyond the Event Horizon

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As drummers/percussionists, we often find it so easy to practice and play the same things. Work on your rudiments, scales, beats, fills, etc. This is fine to a point. But what if that sort of practice becomes a box that we put ourselves in, a box where we trap ourselves to always playing the same things, over & over? How do we find new inspiration, new ways of seeing & hearing our music? Let's look at a few simple ideas:

1) Find a recording, in any style of music, that doesn't have any percussion on it, and create a percussion part. If possible, find a style of music you usually don't play. This way you have to work outside of your comfort zone and stretch yourself. First do it with your usual instrument, like drum set, marimba, etc. Next, do it with a different set up/instrument. Also, don't necessarily try to adopt the typical style of the music you choose, but rather see if you can make your style/s work within the context of the different music. Example: if …

A Steven Schick lecture/performance

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I really think this is too valuable not to share. Professor & percussionist, Steven Schick, recently offered a lecture/performance at UC-San Diego, where he is the head of the percussion department, as part of a series of talks on music & sound. Now the music that Steven plays can be classified as avant-garde/classical percussion, but don't let that put you off. He is such an amazing player who creates music. I was fortunate to see him at last November's PASIC performing some of John Cage's iconic percussion music and he is an impeccable musician. So whether you play jazz, Salsa, or heavy metal, this is so worth watching, because the information pertains to all of us. Set aside 90 minutes when you won't be disturbed and watch this! You'll be glad you did.

A note to all you drum set guys who think you have your shit down: Just because you can play double bass triplets at 280BPM only scratches the surface of what you can do with percussion. Try to play the com…

Don't Be Afraid of Your Own Work

Like most musicians, I don't sit around and listen to my own recordings. Why should I? I lived through the creation of them and then move on to the next project. The only time I really listen to something is if I have to relearn a piece that isn't written down, or if I'm looking for some sort of musical reference to use for something else. 

So tonight I was looking for a file on my computer and ended up reading the extended liner notes from one of my recordings. After reading my own words, I was curious to hear the music again, so I played the CD (I'm actually listening to it as I write this). I always find it interesting to listen to my own music because it's something so close to me. There's always the possibility that I will cringe at how things turned out back then and think about things I should've done. But I've been pleasantly surprised at the music I'm hearing. Given the perspective of a few years, these tracks sound fresh, and in many ways, …