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Showing posts from April, 2018

Have Drummer's Lost Control Of Their Sound?

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This is a companion piece to last week's, What Ever Happened To Individuality? post.

Music today has become so homogenized. So much of it sounds the same because the same small group of producers/songwriters are making all the hit tracks. There often seems to be very little individuality left. This is especially true for the musicians playing on all these songs, but specifically drummers. Rather than controlling their own sounds/feel, drummers are increasingly at the mercy of producers. 

Since the advent of digital recording, and software like Pro Tools and Logic, it's possible to completely change a recorded drum track. Individual drum and cymbal notes can be moved in time and retuned. Recorded drums can be easily replaced by samples of other drums. It's to the point where you could do a session, and when the recording comes out, you've been completely replaced and reshaped by the producer. Your actual performance was really nothing more than raw data that was used to s…

What Ever Happened To Individuality?

There was a time when most drum set drummers you heard had their own, identifiable sound. And by sound I mean both the actual sound of their drums and cymbals, and the sound of their playing style. It was easy to hear a new recording and identify the drummer by their sound
Jazz drummers certainly had their own sound. You could tell Tony Williams' ride cymbal from Buddy Rich's, or Gene Krupa's toms from Max Roach's. Rock drummers had their own identities too. Bill Buford's snare drum was always identifiable, as was Phil Collins' concert toms. Mick Fleetwood always had that very muffled drum sound, and no matter what brand of drums Neil Peart decided to play, he always sounded like Neil Peart.
Trending Today
Today, things are much more homogenous. And not just at the major pro level, but at the local level too. There just seems to be a general inclination towards sameness. This is due to multiple trends.
One trend is that young drum students don't seem to have …

The Thing About Endorsements…

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Too many drummers think endorsements are some sort of ‘trophy’ signifying they 'made it.' Well, not quite. I have some endorsements for gear I play, but I don't for others. I 'made it' to a certain point before the endorsements, but the endorsements haven't made me any better as a player, or more famous. That’s all up to me.




Drummers need to know that an endorsement is a ‘two way’ relationship: you need to give back to the company you endorse. I do this various ways:

1) I talk about the gear I use because I really love it and it works for me.
2) I try to feature endorsed gear in promotional photos and mention it in interviews.
3) I always try to play my own gear, unless it’s a situation where I must play rental gear of a different brand.
4) Did I mention that I talk about the gear I use because I really love it?


#1 & 4 are really key. The endorsements that I have are for gear that I had already been playing for years! And I had been promoting on my own because I …

“What Kind Of Music Do You Play?”

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People often ask me how I classify my solo percussion music, or even the music I play in ad hoc groups. I tend to think of it as contemporary classical music. This usually elicits startled looks. “But you improvise a lot. Isn't that jazz?” My response is, “Jazz is based on swing, the ding-ding-a-ding cymbal pattern. I don't swing. My music is based more on hierarchies of energy that I push forward, and different levels of meter & pulse.”

Ding-ding-a-ding

Swing. That brings up ideas of Elvin Jones, Tony Williams, Max Roach, Buddy Rich, and Gene Krupa. The ride cymbal and hi-hats are king. I don't use either. Swing is great. I often play it when I'm using a traditional drum set. But for my own music, I don't.


Gene Krupa, the king of swing
European Echoes
My own style comes more out of the European improvisers, who unlike their American counterparts, didn't use jazz & swing as a basis for their music. People like Jamie Muir, Frank Perry, Eddie Prévost, Le Quan …