Beyond the Event Horizon

As drummers/percussionists, we often find it so easy to practice and play the same things. Work on your rudiments, scales, beats, fills, etc. This is fine to a point. But what if that sort of practice becomes a box that we put ourselves in, a box where we trap ourselves to always playing the same things, over & over? How do we find new inspiration, new ways of seeing & hearing our music? Let's look at a few simple ideas:

1) Find a recording, in any style of music, that doesn't have any percussion on it, and create a percussion part. If possible, find a style of music you usually don't play. This way you have to work outside of your comfort zone and stretch yourself. First do it with your usual instrument, like drum set, marimba, etc. Next, do it with a different set up/instrument. Also, don't necessarily try to adopt the typical style of the music you choose, but rather see if you can make your style/s work within the context of the different music. Example: if you play fusion drum set and are playing along to a string quartet, don't just play snare drum press  rolls—play fusion drums.

The hills are alive with Percussion…

2) Find a piece of visual art (a painting, sculpture, film, etc.) and play your impression of that piece. What does it mean to you? What does it tell you? Create a percussive soundtrack that expresses your impression of the art work.

What does this sound like?

3) Take something portable, like a hand drum, shakers, bells, etc., go out into the environment, and play along with what you hear: construction, traffic, birds, children, etc. 

What does this sound like?

4) If you play drums/percussion (not mallets), take some sheet music of any melodic instrument, and play it. Pay attention to the phrasing and sense of melody & harmony. Try to think like someone who plays that instrument and interpret that on your drums/percussion.

How can you interpret this?

Stepping outside of your usual routines can often give you a different perspective and fresh inspiration.

~ MB


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