I've been working on some more tunes on piano.
I'm not sure that anyone's interested in how I got into this but to slightly quote Lesley Gore, "It's my Blog and I'll be boring and self-serving if I want to!"
I have been working on learning the melodies and forms to Jazz tunes (but not dealing with the chords at all) for a long time. This is helped me immensely. I feel that I can contribute on a very musical level to any compositions I'm involved with. After a point however, starting in the last 10 years or so, I was starting to feel I had gotten as much as I could from this approach. There is also very "harmonic" music I play with people where playing off of melodies and forms just really doesn't represent the music. In short, I wanted to be involved in all the music.
Then about 2 years ago I experienced a fairly significant professional set back. I wasn't feeling great about it so I decided that one of the things I would do with some of the extra time I had would be to start learning tunes. learning all the chords, work on decent voicings, work on blowing on the changes etc.
I can tell you that this far down this road ( and I'm aware that I haven't begun to even scratch the surface of this stuff) that I am becoming a completely different musician than I was before.
I hear so much more, I understand so much more. Recordings and tunes I have heard countless times over the years have taken on whole new meanings.
Currently, much time, press, and effort is given to musics of the world. That's awesome, but one side effect of this I believe is the tendency of a lot of drummers who have so much rhythmically together to not really deal with the harmony at all. Now most ethnic musics (at least in their purest forms) don't have much in the way of chordal structure. There's nothing wrong with this. It's still great music. Just as a lot of the music of the Classical, Romantic, and Baroque periods in Europe isn't particularly rhythmic, but is great music and well worth studying.
I now believe though, that if one is going to play Jazz, you need to deal with the Harmony as an active participant. This is actually an opinion I would have not agreed with in the past, so I certainly don't expect other drummers to necessarily agree with me.
I understand how difficult and time consuming it feels to take on this huge part of the music. It's something I've struggled with ever since I started studying music in university.
I really believe though, that without this third crucial element of music (along with rhythm and melody), that we will be experiencing music in black and white.
So let's all play piano or guitar, sing or play a horn, and experience the music in the glorious technicolor it's mean to be in!