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Showing posts from May, 2013

A Beginner's Guide to GONGTOPIA

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A beginner's guide to GONGTOPIA & myself.

If you are new here, or have been reading this blog but never looked any deeper, let me (re)introduce myself:

My name is Michael Bettine. I'm a musician, composer, writer, photographer, educator, and all around percussion geek. My passion is metal percussion: Gongs, Bells, Cymbals, Singing Bowls, etc. My blog here is all about my ideas on percussion, but you can also find me many other places on the web:


Gongtopia is my website.Here is where you can find my percussion music.Here is where you can find my books.Here are my photos.Here is my YouTube channel.Here are videos I did at the Memphis Gong Chamber.Here is my Soundcloud channel.Here is my Facebook.Here is my Twitter.Here is my Paiste bio page.

Art Imitates Life

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Art Imitates Life, or maybe more precisely, Art Imitates Practice.
This post will refer back to my previous one from April 8, 2011: Make Your Own Soundtrack. Currently, I'm having a great, real life example of having to create a musical soundtrack. My wife is the music director, and pianist, for a Middle School production of the musical, Mulan. A few weeks ago, she said that percussion would be great to have, especially since I have all the Gongs. I asked to see the percussion part, which they didn't have. So she called the publisher, who said that there is no percussion part/score for this version. Hmmmmm…

Now this version can be performed with a full score CD of backing tracks (which is full of percussion), or a live piano score. They wanted to do the live music. So the first thing I did was listen to the CD, and it was overwhelming! There must be 5 percussion parts of all sorts: Gongs, drums, mallets, etc. What do I play? Which parts do I pick out? How can I basically create …

No Beat Is Innocent

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We all love to play intricate, complex drum beats like this:


But unless you play in an original music band, or some sort of prog tribute band, this will not get you work!


The most basic beat is essential to master. It's also sold hundreds of millions of recordings. Listen to Charlie Watts. Listen to Levin Helm. Listen to Jim Keltner. Listen to Ndugu. Listen to Andy Newmark. Listen to Steve Jordan. Listen to so many other great drummers who may have massive technique, but choose to serve the song by playing this:


Now if you can't play the above beat and make people dance and groove, you are in trouble! All the technical skills of playing paradiddles at 208BPM, or monster blast beats, won't necessarily get you work, or endear you to other musicians. 

Most other musicians don't want to hear youplay crazy, complicated drum beats—really.
What they want is something they can depend on that makes them feel good, makes them dance and groove. You are there to serve the song. If the …