Friday, October 23, 2020

Hear Ye Hear Ye! + More Ranting + KJ

 From henceforth, individuals who  play pads more than drums OR post more than 2 incidences of them playing said pads, they will be hereby referred to as "padders" and the activity they are involved in will be named "padding"……..

Thank you, carry on……..


Okay, this first update is sort of rant-y and slightly negative but I think it will be leavened somewhat by the next one. I wanted to talk about a couple of things I've heard lately. Firstly, it was of a young and very talented drummer filmed playing along to a movement form a Bartok string quartet. I've always loved Bartok's music, especially his string quartets, and actually have played with recordings of it as well, although I wouldn't claim to know any of them nearly as well as this drummer does. That's the good part. What I don't care for so much is that he seems like he's hearing it as a track to play to rather than a piece of music to interact with. He is always playing beats, and even fills I'm pretty sure he's memorized and doesn't deviate from, and the result to my ears sounds like a Prog-Rock duet for string quartet and drums…..

Item 2 that got me thinking is a young instagram drumming star. He has LOTS of velocity on the drums and in the first few videos I've seen of him, most of his concept and vocabulary seems to come from Buddy Rich, including his posture and the faces he makes while playing. In his latest video, he is actually playing along with one of Buddy's solos, note for note.

So, why am I complaining about these to particular items? Well, for one thing, no new content is being created. For another, these types of videos seem to be further evidence of a world where the drums are something that plays along to something else to create context, rather than context coming directly from the drums.

I can't help but feel that some of the great pioneers of the drums, including Buddy, Max Roach, Papa Jo, Tony Williams, Sunny Murray etc., would be disappointed by this turn of events, and at least in popular culture, the drum set feels like it's evolution is going a bit backwards. Of course, this is my opinion and my opinion alone…….


Between writing this post and it being published I found out that the great Keith Jarrett, after suffering a series of strokes has lost the use of his left hand and likely will never play again in public. While the news of this is undeniably devastating, it got me thinking about the act of playing music and how temporary in ultimately is for all of us……

Jarrett was arguably one of the world's greatest improvisors, and like many musicians like Miles Davis, Sonny Rollins (who is also not playing anymore),  and Elvin, seemed indestructible and it felt like he would always be around, playing at the same high level. Of course like all of us, he's human, and in a human body that eventually ages and weakens over time. This, on the quick heels of Eddie Van Halen's passing, is coming at a time when my practice on piano and drums seems at its most productive ever. Please don't get me wrong, I am not comparing myself in any way to the above artists I mentioned. I am, however, feeling like I am still growing and improving as a musician and look forward to every practice session/jam/(occasional)gig etc. I approach. With the events of the last couple of weeks I am also acutely aware that my playing music, and indeed my life, is finite. One of the things that creates beauty is that it is transient. I truly believe that. I have no idea what tomorrow will bring so I will endeavour to make the most of my remaining time as a musician and human, and I would encourage you to do the same. :)

See? First negative, and then positive! :) 

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