Showing posts from January, 2014

The Myth of Technique For Technique's Sake

We see it everywhere today: bigger, better, faster. These are the goals so many people are striving for. This especially carries over to music. I was reading an article last week about how many speed/extreme metal bands are now recording with a drum machine, all because real drummers can't play the parts fast enough! WTF?!  In Speed Metal, Fastest Drummers Take a Beating Even if you look back just 20 or 30 years ago, the technical capabilities of today's drummers is astounding. They are playing things thought impossible back then. Now before you think this is an anti-technique rant, I want to assure you that I believe in technique. In fact, technique is necessary in order to convey our ideas across to others through the music we make. I'm not some grumpy old drummer sitting here complaining about technique. But what I find fascinating is the pursuit of technique just for technique's sake. I don't really care what or how someone plays their music. What I care abo

Painting with Sound

I'm a visual person, a visual thinker. So for me music is a very visual activity. When I'm working with sounds, I'm thinking of them as much as colours as anything. To me, both time, and the air, are my canvas. Sounds are colours to paint with. It's a type of painting that moves and changes, rather than being confined to one location (like a canvas or wall).  And I see (or is it hear ) mixing sounds like mixing colours to create different shades: a Gong and a bell, a drum and a cymbal, etc. In fact, my current fascination is combining sounds to create new and different sounds. I spend a lot of time working with different combinations to see what works, what type of shades I get. I also try out different sticks, mallets, implements, to experiment with different textures and gradients of sound. For me, a sound is never just a sound. Different sounds & textures I've always worked this way. I remember back in my early band days being as concerned about th

The Sound of Standing

In 1952, dancer/choreographer Merce Cunningham, long time partner of composer John Cage, had this to say: "For me, it seems enough that dancing is a spiritual exercise in physical form, and that what is seen, is what it is. And I do not believe it is possible to be 'too simple.' What the dancer does is the most realistic of all possible things, and to pretend that a man standing on a hill could be doing everything except just standing is simply divorce—divorce from life…Dancing is a visible action of life." Merce Cunningham just standing, yet full of motion. This all goes back to my feeling about sounds . Sometimes sounds can be just,  sounds . It is enough just to make the sound and release it into the air. Percussion is so perfect for that: hit a cymbal and let the sound go out, fade, and then disappear. The same with a snare drum, Gong, or timpani. The sound is enough as it is. “I love sounds. Just as they are. And I have no need for them to be anythin

Year End Review - Thanks

I'd like to take the time to thank some people who helped make 2013 particularly memorable: Barry Paul Clark, Devon Drobka, Dave Schoepke,  Nick Lang, and Timothy Dries (Unrehearsed) for musical mayhem and inspiration. You allowed me to really push things past the creative boundaries. Tim Shahady, Andrew Shreve, and all at Paiste for your continued support. Mike Balter of Mike Balter Mallets for your continued support and great mallets. Victor Salazar and all at Vic's Drum Shop for being the great folks you are. Ebay for helping me find all those weird things I like so much. Mode, ECM, and Cantaloupe Records for producing amazing music that both pushes and inspires me. All the people who came out to my concerts, Gong sessions, clinics and workshops. You made things happen and were all part of the magic! All the people and places that hosted my musical events. Let's all do it again in 2014. All my friends around the country, and around the