Archive for the ‘Drums and drumming’ Category

quick update >

Wednesday, May 24th, 2017
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soooo lots going on…but you wouldn’t know by my posts! I was recently brought on-board to write a screenplay for a movie contest…how did that come about – you ask? Basically I wrote a short piece of fiction in a comment section of a blog, and it was believable enough for a local movie dude (who has won some awards) to contact me and ask for more … which I did (the subsequent terrific feedback hasn’t hurt either). Screenplays are a bit tricky – you don’t just say >>JANE says “WHAT”<< You say >>Jane looks coldly at Jim, she raises both hands in the sky – the camera pans in quickly while a jungle beat pulsates – Jane says WHAT while storming toward Jim<<....know what I mean?? Also I will be doing the soundtrack and theme song... having a blast with it. It is my first full blown movie project where so many of my interests collide. The movie itself will only be about 8 minutes long - and I will write more as I progress, but it has been a hoot so far.

I have been drumming a lot locally in churches, and am working with a few different music projects. I recently picked up a vintage 60’s era Rogers Holiday drum kit and some very sweet Zildjian K’s – Imma say it loud and proud – this kit sounds so buttery, focused and fine…(as they say) kid you not…I’ve got drool marks all over the place and I haven’t even got it all set up yet…it has been said Ludwig has it and Gretsch has it – but Rogers Holiday IS IT! One new addition is a 24″ Zildjian K Light Ride – puttin the OOh in my LALA 🙂 Further I am revamping a whole bunch of music studio stuff, new trigger configurations, new mic implementations, new software, new synths, lots of new music / songs… I really should post more knowhatimean? I know, Instagram and such – right? Photos – right? And to think I’ve been a professional photographer with work @ Disney Epcot and Kodak Gallery Award blah blah blah – can’t even get Instagram off the ground… LOL!

Let’s see – I am on letter 815 of Vincent Van Gogh… and that too has been an eye popper. He is basically in an insane asylum in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence France ATM… he recently cut off his ear… the whole story is so heartbreaking, and to think as he sits in the asylum he says;

“However, melancholy very often overtakes me with great force, and besides, the more my health returns to normal the more my mind is capable of reasoning very coldly, the more to do painting that costs us so much and doesn’t bring in anything, not even the cost of producing them, seems madness to me, a thing completely against reason. Then I feel utterly sad, and the bad thing is that at my age it’s darned difficult to start again with something else.”

Not realizing his paintings would eventually command the highest prices in the history of art – and today – even his tiniest scribbles sell for a cool million. Yet there he was October 1889, alone, semi-motivated, fighting for his sanity, ignored (generally) by the art community, and utterly broke / broken. I am in the last months of his life – it is roughly a 9 months from today (in the letters) that he commits suicide. In Holland (where he is from) and in the art world in general he is a hero and a genius. The dichotomy is breathtaking.

I have been offered an exclusive deal with Jingle Punks which is cool…. dunno if I even mentioned this before. Anyway – that’s it for now – catch ya’ll on the flip-side!

a joyful noise

Saturday, May 23rd, 2015
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hola amigos! I do hope you all are having a great Spring! Myself – I have been busy on several fronts and thought it a good idea to say hey…or hola…or whazhappenin. First up> I have been working my way through Psalms and have been so utterly inspired in so many ways it is difficult to summarize in a single post, but I will say this; reading Psalms makes me want to make a joyful noise! Psalm 98 is where I currently reside and the poem resonates with sacred energy…some interesting points include the fact that it was written about 1,000 years before Christ, but stretches all the way past his birth to the judgement of the earth (that’s some staying power in relevance), David instructs us to sing a NEW song, and includes such details as “make a loud noise / rejoice / sing praise / let the sea roar / let the floods clap their hands” one interesting thing of note is the “noise” element. As a drummer I’m going to say many a joke is had at our expense…our implied lack of musicality if you will…in the sense that drums are rarely “in tune” to the song…even when a pitch is found – it’s sharp on attack, and we cannot tune specifically to every song. Anyway – a joyful noise is more of a victory shout (and less of a sung note)… furthermore – have you ever been by the roar of an ocean wave? Lemme tell you it’s big my friend. Overwhelming even. In your face loud and noisy. I’m thinking the idea here is to go big or go home. Wall o’ Spirit infused sound! The Hebrew lexicon lists various meanings for noise in this psalm including “to break out / break forth / shout / raise a sound / cry out / give a blast / shout a war cry / shout in triumph.” And yes, the triumph piece becomes important as we look to the end of the psalm we see the Lord coming to judge the people of the world with righteousness and equity. Holy good from our Lord Christ will triumph over skulking defeated evil… I’m thinking a day of some joyful noise sounds quite pleasant thanks.

On other news fronts (more…)

can I get an amen…umm…break beat?

Monday, January 5th, 2015
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absolutely, and you will soon see why…but first let me explain. In case you did not know,  the “amen break” is a drum solo / groove of about 6 seconds long. It was performed in 1969 by Gregory Cylvestor GC Coleman. The song he did this drumming on was called “Amen Brother” and it was performed by the Winstons. Although the song itself did not get much attention – the drum groove became a staple in sample based break beat music, and inspired several subcultures of music, largely derived from permutations of this one beat. If you want a fascinating insight into the history – you can see this very interesting video for more information (it’s about 18 minutes long but worth it). Old news, right? A tired overused sample of drums, already cliche and boring 10 years ago, right? To some, maybe – but not to me. To me, as a drummer, it’s another word in my musical vocabulary, it’s another tool in my musical toolbox. I mean, this sample of 6 second drumming may be the most sampled drum beat of all time…why not learn it? So I did. And then – why not record it? So I did. After recording it I thought it might be fun to embellish it. So I ended up with what you hear below. Since the original is 6 seconds long – I basically duplicated the original sample for about 3 minutes in length in my DAW and played the whole thing live with the sample as the reference. I did check the tempo and it is about 138.9 beats a minute straight / unedited.  Below you will find the original 6 second sample. Then you will find my version +/- 3 minutes long. Then you will find my experimental blush at adding the music direction (bass etc.)… you will hear some variety on the beat, extra kicks, fills etc for the simple reasons that 3 minutes of this groove straight and my mind wanders, plus it is still an interpretation – knowhatimean? Anyway – I pictured a somewhat relentless, fervent, musical drum, percussion bombardment… I know it is kind of spazzy, but I hope the energy translates in a positive way…can I get an AMEN?

amen brother original sample

here is my extended version redo

amen brother drh version

here I am just messing around with some sounds (percussion, bass / synth effects etc)

amen brother drh2 version

2 nice music documentaries worth watching >

Friday, October 3rd, 2014
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sound city covermssI know these have been out for a while – but I just watched them this week…Sound City and Muscle Shoals. Both documentaries have a lot of amazing talent and artists represented, but the conclusions about what makes great music remain mysterious at best. The Sound City documentary was spearheaded by Dave Grohl, ex-Nirvana drummer, and Foo Fighters renaissance man. His view is basically that the Neve 8078 sound board was what was largely responsible for creating the magical Sound City sound. Sound City also had a famous recording room ambiance, that was somehow ideal for the right drum sound among other things. People talked about what a dirty mess the studio was with shag carpet on the walls and no real sound treatments to the main recording area…but all agreed the songs and music recorded there were raw and honest in a very desirable way. Some of the featured artists in Sound City were Tom Petty, Rick Rubin, Trent Reznor, Rick Springfield and Stevie Nicks (among many others). Muscle Shoals goes off into a different direction talking about the songs coming from the location…”songs coming from the mud”. Along the Tennesse River in Alabama ( “In the middle of nowhere”) you have some of the most important R&B of the time being created…by musicians called the “Swampers”, Alabamas “Wrecking Crew”. You have Bono, Keith Richards, Mick Jagger, Percy Sledge, Wilson Pickett and others sharing their stories about how the songs, musicians, location and times all influenced their musical adventures in unforgettable ways. Rick Hall is the man of the hour in this documentary, since he was the one who was having the obsession to create Fame Studios and the Muscle Shoals sound. Of personal interest and influence (I always dug Land of 1,000 Dances) was the drummer in the Swampers, Roger Hawkins he has been on a few hits, and he is so down to earth…as a drummer I enjoyed his input, and the Swampers made some of the greasiest R&B in the day! Both documentaries were very entertaining and a joy to watch!

20 reasons you won’t finish that song…

Thursday, May 1st, 2014
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…or learn that instrument, write that book, complete that screenplay make that drawing or climb that mountain of passion in whatever form it may be. Here’s the deal, this is largely confessional. When I look at what kinds of impediments get in the way of my creative urges, I see patterns. Where I fail and learn, maybe you can benefit. There are probably more than 20 reasons, and these are not all my own, but feel free to have a look and see if you notice anything familiar here that inhibits your invention / destiny. After all, if we compare notes and can learn from one another, maybe we can both defeat these hostiles below with greater efficiency.

1) No time.
Really? Last time I checked we all have 24 hours in the day. Almost everybody I know that is productive finds ways to be despite their circumstances and schedule. If days go by and you are not setting time aside for your song / instrument / goal – you will obviously not make any progress. It is usually the hardest in the beginning, but as you develop new habits and experience growth you will find inertia setting in and real milestones taking place. You ain’t gonna shine if you don’t do take the time. There is no magic boat ride to songwriting Saturday. Make time now, carve out that sanctuary of study, fight for your right to write… even if it is only a few minutes every day.

2) Composing, practicing, writing (your passion) is W-O-R-K.
So does that mean a person is not carried along on a non-stop dose of perpetual inspiration? Surely you know that writing is a blissful state of unadulterated enjoyment. It seems to me one of the writer clichés is someone sitting by a piano – dreamily looking out the window as dewy winged notes flit down from heaven. Ahhhhhh. Right. Well – maybe sometimes there is inspiration, but mostly it is an act of discipline to sit down and “work” on music. While I enjoy writing as a rule…sometimes it can be downright unpleasant. Some days it’s fun. Some days it’s harder, but still satisfying. Some days it’s sweat and sting and willpower with little else. Songs are elusive little creatures. Music is an art with a science. We were told way back in the garden our work would sweat our brows – so roll up your sleeves and get to it…WORK that is! It really is a relentless work ethic that prospers. (more…)

so…whatzhappenin?

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2013
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I have been reading a lot of George Macdonald lately. He is my favorite author by far. I am really inspired by his poetry as well – even though I am closer to what he would have called a rhymester… 🙂

There has been a lot of writing activity behind the scenes…I just finished another 15 pieces of music for JP, I have been into some classic electro and heavy rhythmic stuff lately – I might post some of it here later. My latest BMI statement had a nice chunk of change coming from MTV which is cool. You know – I would highly recommend getting into licensing if you are a musician, even as a solo instrumentalist. The streaming payouts are a joke1 joke2 for the most part…but in the interest of diverse opinions I have included another good article here. I make more from a single short piece on the Logo network than entire bands with thousands of streams. Granted – it is absolutely not only about the money – but as an income “stream” it is a viable and reliable way forward… It seems to me in this current environment musicians have to diversify. Writing, recording, giving lessons, playing live, getting endorsements, exploiting online distribution possibilities etc etc all need to be added to the hustle of earning an income.
I have also been doing some online studies @ Lynda.com you can do a trial for free for 1 week, so have a look and see if they feature something you are interested in. I am collaborating on another tune which is looks to rock quite allright – if it goes as I hope it will be a pretty fierce tune. That’s all I got for now – catch you all later.

thoughts on music…

Thursday, April 26th, 2012
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someone came up to me the other day and said “I wish I could play the drums like you”. Oh I said – you grab a stick and hit a drum for starters – do you want me to show you how? “Nooooo”, they responded “I was just sayin”…and there, my friends, lies the rub. (more…)

pulse

Thursday, March 22nd, 2012
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I like to get my heart going in a cardio workout a few times a week. I type my information into a treadmill module and out comes the suggested heart rate. I shoot for about 40 minutes of elevated heart rate, about 140. I don’t run, I basically powerwalk – and the treadmill itself elevates quite a bit (as if I am going uphill etc) so I am sufficiently tired when everything is said and done. Funny thing is, when you do a workout of 140 beats a minute you have a heightened sense of tempo. I happen to be working on a new song which is about 80 BPM (beats per minute). Often, when working on tracks I will burn “sketch” cds, or put work in progress versions into my iPod. This allows me to drive and listen to the sketch, and also tweak aspects of the song while I am going about other tasks (BTW did you know you theoretically can re-burn RW cd’s up to 1000 times?) What is my point I hear you ask? Well this week after walking for 40@140 I popped the sketch cd in and lamented the sloooooow tempo. It got me thinking about pulse (human) as well as pulse (song) or more commonly beats per minute, and how we (in a physiological sense) are influenced by these little subdivisions in time. Why do certain tempos (100BPM, 112-118BPM,etc) usually connote dance speeds? Why do faster tempos urge us into action? It is an interesting question. Obviously there are so many different kinds of dance, just determining proper dance tempos or sweet spots for the variety alone is a challenge Disco / Club / Waltz / Swing / House / Jazz / Funk / R&B / Soul / Rhumba / Tribal Fire – ya get the idea. But common to all of these pulse urges is the human organisms desire to respond. Our feet tap when we meet a pleasing dance tempo / groove. No doubt, there are aspects of the music style as well that will urge some more than others…being a truly funky drummer in the sense of being able to generate dancers is paramount in the dance clubs or weddings where they want folks interacting. DJs (perhaps unfortunately) to a large degree are replacing bands for the simple reason they can often better command a dance floor with dance music (and are cheaper?!) I have never consciously sat down to make a dance track – but I probably will now. It will be a fun learning experience, and will also be an interesting venture into “giving folks what they want”. One more thing, I am debating a song or tune of absolutely blistering skin stretching tempo. Why not? I suppose a very high energy tempo with cruncy guitars, and a drum track of aggressive single stroke style drumming would probably imply some kind of sport…jet skiing or whatever. Who knows?Call it a study….talk soon.

hollowed one piece snare drum

Wednesday, September 7th, 2011
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drum before afterdrum above

as you can see – the single piece maple snare drum is coming right along…I have hit a bit of a snag on the interior, as I had a grinder to even it out and it was too fast, and it burnt the wood so I stopped immediately. Part of this project taking so long is I am curing it as I go, with no instructions or clear idea of time frames involved – only looking and working with the drum. I have had some wood experts express surprise that the wood is not cracking and unworkable (as well as surprise at my archaic approach)…I will show more as I near the finishing stage and complete (with audio samples as well). The 2 images show a before and after on the size of wood stump I cut the snare from, and an interior shot showing just how much work I have ahead of me to get the shell even and beveled etc. (click images to enlarge) Big fun. 🙂

1 Chronicles 25

Saturday, May 7th, 2011
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Assigning the musicians; I was reading through 1 Chronicles 25 and was struck by some aspects of Gods designs for worship musicians. It was a quickie of a spoken thought – with a washer running in background and people walking upstairs – but I hope you get the idea of why I wanted to share this…about 6 minutes long. The blue arrow streams, or you can download.