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Showing posts from March, 2013

PERCUSSION DECONSTRUCTION the book!

Coming this summer: PERCUSSION DECONSTRUCTION the book!

Yes, that's right. The best of the blog, along with new and expanded material just for your pleasure. Now you can bring PD to your gigs, on vacation, or read it with hot chocolate late at night in your living room. I'll keep you up to date here, on twitter, and facebook. Now I've got to get back to work…

~ MB

Breaking In Your Metals

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You've probably heard the same stories I have, about Elvin Jones (or maybe some other famous jazz drummer), who when he got new cymbals, reportedly would spend hours rolling on them with timpani mallets in order to break them in. The theory is that by vibrating the metal excessively, the molecules settle and the sound ages and improves. This is a great story, but is it true? Does this really work?

I must say that from personal experience that there is something to this. But I think it's a two-fold experience.


Yes, by vibrating a newly made cymbal or Gong, you help the metal settle and will find the sound changing over time. This happens normally as we play the same cymbal/Gong over the years. Musical instruments are meant to be played, and to have their sound released. Now can you speed up this process by playing a new instrument for hours & hours? Some. But in my experience, it also takes time for these sonic changes to occur. That's perhaps why old, vintage instruments…

Timbre, the Lost Art

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timbre[ˈtɪmbə ˈtæmbə (French) tɛ̃brə]
n1. (Linguistics / Phonetics & Phonology) Phonetics the distinctive tone quality differentiating one vowel or sonant from another2. (Music, other) Music tone colour or quality of sound, esp a specific type of tone colour[from French: note of a bell, from Old French: drum, from Medieval Greek timbanon, from Greek tumpanon drum]
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If we look at the definition above, timbre has to do with the tone color of the sound we make. You can hit a snare drum in the very center of the head with a 5B stick, note after note, and have just one sound, one color. Or, you can change various parameters and have a world of sound colors available. I have to admit that in this homogenized musical world, the idea of different timbres often seems to have been lost. With the advent of digital recording and Pro-Tools, producers are able to make sure each drum note played is exactly like the one before it. Sterility rules!
OK, so you play live and aren't in a multi-mi…

That Old Fashioned Work Ethic

It always amazes me when people think they can just be a drummer, or be a guitarist, or be a painter, or be a dancer. "Here, give me those sticks, I can play drums!" 


BOOM-BAM-BOOM-BOOM-CRASH-CLATTER… 
Yeah, right.

There's also the people who put in a little effort and wonder why they haven't made it yet??? What do they expect? Everyone wants to be discovered, wants to be the new media idol, but no one wants to put in the work!


NOTHING REPLACES A GREAT WORK ETHIC
I remember when I was a teen and just starting out on my musical career. I really did practice 4-8 hours a day. All my spare time was consumed with practicing (practising for my Brit & Canadian friends). In fact, my parents had to tell me to stop! And when I wasn't practicing, I was listening to music, trying to figure it out. When I got older and had to work, then got married and raised a family, I didn't have the luxury of that much time to practice, but I still put my time in, as much as I could. S…

Never Stop Learning

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It's easy to get to a certain point in both your life and your art/career, and feel like you've gone as far as you need to. Yeah, things can become comfy, easy, routine. You are able to go out there and just do it without thinking about it. But what's the point? Why stop there?

I'm always amazed, and inspired, by people I look up to, who are at the top of their game, yet keep learning and striving for more. 2 good examples are Neil Peart and Steve Smith. They are 2 of the top drummers in the world. Both have achieved a great degree of technical proficiency, and are majors stars. As different as they may be musically, they have one thing in common: they both have kept studying drums and taking lessons. 

Peart is well known for his studying with the late Freddy Gruber (as were many other well known drummers). He has written articles about how Freddy helped him play more fluidly. He's also studied with his contemporary, Peter Erskine. Neil will be the first person to te…