Saturday, May 23, 2020

Music is a very serious and dour endeavour

Here's more drumming to text, thanks to the brilliance of fellow Canadian Leslie Nielsen ….

Friday, May 15, 2020

You are your own curator

The definition of a curator is a keeper or custodian of a museum or other collection. How does this relate to us as musicians? Well, one can view one's playing elements or style as a collection. We live an an era with a VAST amount of musical materials and ideas to work on. Some of them will be more attractive to us than others. THIS IS NOT A BAD THING! Part of what defines what we are is what we are not. In other words, as the curator, we get to decide what does or doesn't belong in our collection. For example, I have very little together in terms of playing double bass drums. This isn't because I have anything against this particular area of drumming, ( truth be told, I think it can be quite cool ) it's just that I have only so much time to work on material, plus double bass drums isn't really an essential part of most of the music I play. Conversely, my extensive work on the piano over the last 10 years or so might be seen as not the best use of my time by an avid devotee of Speed Metal drumming. But, since I am the curator of my playing, I believe my work on piano has been very valuable indeed.
I played an online solo drums concert a couple of nights ago and it involved a fair amount of specific work towards it ( mainly involving, harp, piano, and performing tracks with myself ). Once I had completed my online gig, I decided i wanted to do something different. I have been fascinated for awhile now with people who drum along to speech patterns. Dan Weiss, for example, has done quite a bit of this.
When I was deciding what to play along with, I realized I wanted something short, but also iconic. I started by looking at a John Lennon quote about how most of the drummers that he met in his early years were idiots, but I found his dry, laconic Liverpudlian delivery wasn't very dramatic, and thus didn't lend that well to the drums. But drama I found, in the form of actor/firearm enthusiast Charlton Heston, in one of his most famous performances. Check it out!

I've already learned a lot around following freer rhythm, and applying drum pitches to match vocal inflections. I also had a lot of fun, so I see myself doing more of this in the near future. Stay safe!

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Monday, May 11, 2020

Avi Granite 6

Hey all, while I'm prepping my hair for my close-up via my solo concert Wednesday May 13th at 5PM EST thanks to the good folks at MusicTogether (see previous post) I'm posting this video of the Avi Granite 6 playing "Knocking at the Door" together at the Yardbird Suite and dreaming of a time I can make music whilst un-distanced from my friends and colleagues….

It also seems as a musician one increasingly is metaphorically outside people's door with a cup in one's hand but the Canadian  government's support to artists may be a fleeting thing.  In this spirit I have started a Patreon page. Please help support me and my projects if you feel so moved, and stay healthy and safe. :)

Thursday, May 7, 2020

Online Concert May 13th 5PM E

Hey all,
Just letting you know I will be giving a performance on Instagram Live this coming Wednesday May the 13th at 5PM. Here's my official blurb and the link….

Doing an online solo concert next Wednesday May 13th at 5pmEST (This show is brought to you by Shopify, Arts & Crafts, and Ontario Live via Ontario Creates) Check out how much I've bitten off, and how I'm doing on the chewing front! #musictogetherON

Sunday, May 3, 2020

RIP Tony Allen

I'm a bit late on this, but I wanted to mention Afro-Beat (and beyond) great Tony Allen's passing earlier this week. Allen was a truly original voice on the drum set, and will be sorely missed.
Among his many other gifts, Allen could come up with these great grooves that were hooks and signatures of whatever tunes he was playing. Super thematic!
Here's a great example of that featuring the jazzier side of Allen's playing….


Saturday, May 2, 2020


One of the good things to come out of social isolation is that the online educational sources for all kinds of music have gone from a Plethora to a Super-Plethora! One of things I had enjoyed is drumming great  Ferenc Nemeth's online Q & As/practice sessions.  I love how he plays metric modulations so seamlessly! It made me realize that often when I do modulations, I tend to modify the original lick to make it easier or more logical to play in relation to the original tempo. For example, I might try to avoid playing the hi-hat in it's exact place in the modulation if it's on the middle triplet or something. So, I'm trying to work on this…..

In the first video, I'm playing only hi-hat, while singing the melody to Dizzy Gillespie's "Ow". I sang the bridge to "I've Got Rhythm" in the B section because either the bridge to "Ow" is just blowing or I've forgotten it. I start in 1/4 time, go to 1/2 time, then playing the time off the dotted quarters, then to the actual tempo, time off the quarter note triplet, and finally (barely) double time!

Note that it's a little loose in spots, but the important thing is I'm keeping the original tempo in my head, so no matter what happens I can find my way back. This principle applies in ALL modulation situations!

Here's the same idea but this time I'm starting by playing the original tempo, I'm spending less time on most of the modulations, and have also included a modulation that's using 2 & 4 as the "phoney" quarter notes. I believe I stole that from Jeff Watts…….

In the next example, I stay in the modulation (or maybe this would be described as just a displacement?) for awhile. I am singing the Mingus tune "Nostalgia In Times Square/Strollin'" and that is the actual part of the bar I'm in. Written out in the crudest manner possible, this is what my RH is doing…..
  …And here's the video
Admittedly, this is a challenging one to keep one's place in. Even now as I'm listening to it, if I don't concentrate very hard, I'll move it back by an 8th note triplet! 

The next few videos show me playing modulated beats while singing tunes. (Sorry that the singing is hard to hear in some cases.) Note I am taking very simple beats that I don't have to think about, AND are very recognizable in their original form. Also, when I modulate them, I am trying to keep the voicing, spaces between notes etc. exactly the same/

Here's the "train beat" while singing "Solar"

Here's "Solar" again with more of a Hip-Hop feel….

Now, in a Mambo

Finally, here's a displaced shuffle (similar to the displaced swing of earlier in the post, again moved by one 8th-note triplet) while I'm warbling a blues head.

Obviously, there's a ton of musical situations these sorts of ideas DON'T belong in. Use sparingly, and always support the music!