Showing posts from January, 2016

The Art of Improvisation Extra: MONA FOMA - Final Thoughts, Part 4 of 4

One More Look Back As a musician who loves to improvise and be thrown off the deep end of things, MOFO was the perfect environment for me. I was really able to both stretch, and be stretched out by the other musicians I performed with.  Having been an improvising musician for many years, I must admit to having my licks/riffs/ideas that I do use over and over (who doesn't?) , so in one sense what I do is not 100% improvised. But, and this is important, even when I play something familiar, the context is always different. Things like the room, the audience, the instruments used, and even my particular mood at the time are always changing.  A good example are my 2 performances in the Barrel Room, on Friday morning and Saturday morning. While there were similarities, each performance was quite different. One factor was that the energy of the 2 audiences was very different. Another factor was the 1st Barrel Room performance was my very 1st performance at the fest, so I didn

The Art of Improvisation Extra: MONA FOMA, Part 3 of 4

Sunday, January 17   Today is all about the duo. I was scheduled to play twice today, at 3pm with trumpeter Scott Tinkler, and at 5:15 possibly with another artist from the fest. But as things went, on Saturday, I ran into Taiko drummer Yyan Ng in the green room. He was excited to meet and we had a great time chatting. He was scheduled to play a short performance Sunday morning and asked if I'd be interested in playing with him. Of course I said, “Yes.” So a call was put out to Shelley to see if we could do it. It was heartily approved and we both went off to our Saturday performances excited about the duo performance tomorrow. Sunday's schedule showing the amazing variety of performances going on. Not shown  are some of the pop up performances and changes, like the Taiko/Gong duo. Yyan and I talked a little, but not really about what we would do. We talked more about who we were and what our backgrounds were. We had both started out as drum set players, before expa

The Art of Improvisation Extra: MONA FOMA, Part 2 of 4

Saturday, January 17, 2016 2 performances scheduled for today (Saturday, January 1 6 , 2016), with a 3rd hastily thrown in. This always makes things even more interesting. The Barrel Room Redux Starting the day off with a 2nd performance in the Barrel Room. The advantage here is knowing how the room sounds. I played very similar to yesterday's performance: lot's of long tones to fill the space, and playing with the beats again. Another very appreciative audience. I could play in here all the time. The Main Stage As sometimes happens at these large festivals, someone canceled, leaving a hole to fill in the scheduling. I had been asked to fill in for something yesterday, but my playing back at the pier in town made it impossible. Today I was walking around the grounds when I came upon the festival's curator, Brian Ritchie, who asked me, “Someone canceled. Do you want to play on the main stage with me and a bass player?” “Sure,” was my reply. I then made my way t

The Art of Improvisation Extra: MONA FOMA, Part 1 of 4

Today I want to take an in depth look at my recent experience at the MONA FOMA festival in Hobart, Tasmania, Australia, where I was the artist in residence . There is a 6-part series about my day to day exploits on my other blog, The Way of the Gong ™. I wasn't sure where to post that, there or here, but the other blog won out for inconsequential reasons. You might want to check that series out first before you continue here. The MOFO blogs . Friday, January 15, 2016 Now back to the fest: In the course of 3 days (Fri-Sun), I performed 8 times, all of these performances were improvised to a great extent. The festival was mostly held at a fantastic museum, MONA (Museum of Old and New Art), with some performances at various venues back in Hobart proper. I played at 5 different venues, each with its own acoustics, which affected how I played. So let's look at my performances based on the rooms I played in. The Barrel Room  A most interesting venue. When I first saw my

While I'm Away, I'm Still Here

Hey, while I'm off in Australia, performing at the MONA FOMA Festival in Hobart, I'm blogging about it on my other blog, The Way of the Gong . Check it out  here   everyday . When I get back next week, I'll pick up with more of The Art Of Improvising . Cheers! ~ MB

Improvisation, Part 8 - Bettine/Brophy/Kern Trio

Part 8 of this series and once again I'm in a trio with Erin Brophy and Daniel Kern. This track take a different path. Erin play flute, with gives things a lighter texture. I start out playing 3 Paiste Bell Cymbals placed upside down on my bass drum. I get a nice long resonance from them, but the hard rubber mallets also give a bright initial attack, so it's both percussive and not. The thing to notice is that I am playing a steady rhythmic motif. With the 3 notes from the cymbals, it's also melodic. Now there's a misconception among some people that playing free , is just that all the time, and that any sort of repeating rhythms/meter are shunned. Playing free is not just playing with some sort of wild abandon.  As you should have learned from this series so far, playing free is a well thought out expression of musical ideas based upon both previous work, and reacting to what is happening in the present moment. This means that, if I was playing a traditional drum