Looking Beyond Expectations

I'm writing this post as both a percussionist, and as a composer. To me, these 2 roles are inexorably linked - I can't imagine one without the other. One thing I have learned over all these years is that, for both, to just get out of the way of the music, and let it come through. Hindsight is always a great teacher, and a great revealer. 

For example, I was writing a new percussion solo and had a certain idea in mind for how I wanted things to go. But along the way, the music had a different idea. So instead of being insistent, and forcing things to follow my plan, I let go and followed the music. The thing about this is how the music always leads me to unexplored territory. New realms, new rhythms, new voices. One of the amazing things I have learned with working with Gongs is that they are often the teacher, not only showing me things, but opening me up to allow new elements to emerge. 

Understand that I'm not against planning or predetermined ideas, but I have learned to get out of the way when the music presents something different. Maturity has made this easier (not to mention the music knocking me on my head over and over). On one end of things is improvisation, where everything is a step into the unknown. On the other end is composition, where things are measured out and designed for repetition. This has lead to me all but abandoning traditional drum set playing, as it is meant to restrict itself to a very limited and codified set of rhythms. But don't be afraid to move beyond the drum set, beyond repetitive patterns, as there is a great valley of freedom just over the mountain.

Be aware of opportunities…

~ MB


  1. Michael, I couldn't agree more regarding the conventional drum set configuration. It's taken me a few years, but I've finally broken those chains. Giving up the cozy and familiar is always some difficult business, but the rewards have been instant and without measure. It was gratifying to read someone expressing similar thoughts. Cheers,
    John Orsi

  2. John, thanks for your comment. Yes, moving away from the traditional drum set can be both rewarding & liberating. The day I decided to stand up, and not sit, was a day of immense libration and a new perspective on what I do.

    ~ MB


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