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Showing posts from November, 2014

The Importance Of A Strong Foundation

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Recently my son Aiden and I attended a musical performance. We both came to the conclusion that the performers seemed to lack any sort of technique, and that they often did things to look good more than sound good, or fit into things musically. This got me thinking about the importance of having a strong musical and technical foundation if you are serious about being a musician.

In my career as a writer, I've interviewed a lot of great musicians, and most of them stressed the importance of knowing your fundamentals, because that gives you a strong foundation on which to create your music. Even the people who play free jazz, or free improv said the same thing. My friend, Swiss drummer Fredy Studer, who is well known as an improvising drummer, said something to the affect of, “There's a right way and a wrong way to improvise. You have to know what you are doing before you can play free.” So many drummers stressed working out of books like Stick Control (George Lawrence Stone) and…

A Look At improvisation

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Improvisation. The word has a lot of connotations and implications. For most people, it means making things up in the moment. But is that really what happens? I do a lot of work in what is popularly called free music, or free improvisation. 

“The term “free improvisation,” to me, means nothing. When we play, we are not free. It is impossible to be free. Because the moment you start a sound, a musical gesture, a movement, the memory starts and I try to give a sense of organization, texture, form, repetition, variation. Even if it’s just noise, you have to organize. I am an improviser who composes. That’s why, for me, improvisation is a chamber music.”
Bassist/composer Joëlle Léandre (from this wonderful Interview)

I agree with what Joëlle says: “It is impossible to be free.” I find that in my own work, when I'm improvising, I always impose rules and structure on what I'm playing. As a trained musician, I have years of music and ideas in my head. When I improvise, I draw upon those…

Stop The Hating

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This post is in response to some recent Facebook postings I read that were unnecessary in the hate they directed towards particular drummers. With the rise of the internet, there has also been an unfortunate rise in people saying hateful things about other musicians. 



There are drummers and other musicians whose music and/or playing style I don't particularly like. But I realize that many other people do like them. For me to say things like, "They suck," or, "They don't deserve their success," really says more about me than anything. That's not constructive in anyway. Better to say something like, "I really don't care for what they do," or, "It's just not my type of music." 

It's a big world out there, and not everyone will like the same thing (thankfully). There's room for everybody and their idea of making music (or dance, film, writing, photography, painting, etc.). There's especially room for people to do their …