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Showing posts from October, 2016

The Art of Recording Without Stress & Fear

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This question was recently asked on a Facebook Percussion group: What stresses you out most about recording in the studio? Click tracks, perfect editing, etc.

My answer, without meaning to be snarky, was, Paying for it…

And I meant it. Recording time in a quality studio with a good engineer is expensive. What stresses me out the most is having things go wrong, or not being prepared, and having to pay for any time wasted. When the session starts, the dollar clock is running.



Making The Most Of Being In The Studio

I always approach recording just like playing a live show and more. The 3 most important rules are:

1 - Be prepared.
2 - Be Prepared.
3 - Be prepared.

I can't emphasize this enough. Before you get into the studio, rehearse your material and rehearse it some more. There's nothing worse than wasting time trying to figure out something you should have known before you set foot in the studio. Rehearse your material and make sure you know it.

Next, know what you want to get out of y…

This Idea of "Texture" - 3

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If you approach drumming seriously, then everything you put together to make your sound brings you to your own, unique world. — Robyn Schulkowsky
Texture. This is where percussionists can shine. 
texture  /teksCHər/nounnoun: texture; plural noun: textures1.1. the feel, appearance, or consistency of a surface or a substance."skin texture and tone"
Musically, texture is the quality of the sound you make. Think of sound as a surface (as in the definition above), is the sound you are making smooth, rough, rippled, watery, gaseous, solid, etc.? The fact that percussion can be just about anything, means that we not only have unlimited sound, we have unlimited textures. 
Texture as Instrument
We have a lot of instrument choices out there. Percussion is made from:
WoodMetalPlasticStoneSkinBoneStyrofoamRubberWaterEtc.
These instruments can be:
LargeSmallThickThinLongShortEtc.
The playing surface can be:
SmoothRippledGrainyBumpyBentFlexibleHollowEtc.
Now take all the above and throw them in a bl…

This Idea of "Gesture" - 2

This is a companion piece to last week's blog on concept. Percussion/drums are very visual instruments, so gesture is a natural part of performance. There is a lot of movement, both from the arms and, from the whole body itself. Not to mention the movement of the mallets/sticks we play with. Unless you are playing a particular theatrical piece of music, that might have gestures written out, gesture itself is usually given little thought.


ges·ture
ˈjesCHər/nounnoun: gesture; plural noun: gestures1. a movement of part of the body, especially a hand or the head, to express an idea or meaning."Alex made a gesture of apology"
Think of the rock or metal drummer behind their kit, with arms raised and flying away. Or watch a marching band/drum corps, with each movement heavily choreographed for visual effect. This is what most people notice, what most drummers think about, the visual aspect. But what part does gesture play on the sound?

On my first solo percussion album, Stars Show …

This Idea of "Concept" - 1

Concept. Do you have a concept. or do you even know what it means? Merriam-Webster defines concept this way:


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conceptplay noun con·cept  \ˈkän-ˌsept\
1:  something conceived in the mind :thoughtnotion2:  an abstract or generic idea generalized from particular instances
In a general arching definition, a concept is an over reaching idea that covers what you think and do about something. As a drummer/percussionist/musician, let's look at what the great Vinnie Calaiuta said about concept in an interview:

(Concept) That’s my new word. It’s the word that everyone is going to be sick of hearing me use. What does it mean to me? It is the highest understanding of how you experience music. And it is accomplished by total immersion. In a way, it's beyond a cognitive understanding. It is an inner understanding of total immersion. Developing a concept is a long process. It starts by being able to understand what music represents to you as a whole; then, understanding what that music …