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May 12, 2018

Comments

This is a great collection of practice (and performance!) thoughts, russell. Thanks.

-- If you're thinking about what you're doing, you're not doing it

Certainly was true for me when I was trying to play basketball over the years. It was so very clear that I understood a lot about the game "rationally," but that the signals did not get processed quickly enough, or sent from my brain to my body quickly enough, for me to be really good at the game. It didn't help that I only started learning as an adult, and wasn't all that well-endowed athletically to begin with.

My daughter got her athletic genes from the other parent. The way it looked to me, as she played basketball, baseball, softball, and soccer, was that her body "knew" what to do in a way that mine didn't.

-- Take your tempo from the vocalist.

As someone who did a lot of choir accompaniment on the piano in my younger years (and played the organ in church for a few years as well), I find this an interesting one. Never having played the drums or been in a band that had drums, I would have thought the drummer was responsible for the tempo. Learn something new! Of course, with the high school choir there was a conductor.

Among the fiddlers I used to hang out with when I played the fiddle, the piano and guitar were kind of scornfully called "the rhythm instruments." I never got the point, because in fact the context was playing music for contra dances, where setting the tempo is really the main thing you're there for.

-- Breathe

Truer words......


Oh, and this one:

--Start with the simplest thing that works

reminds me of Gall's law, which maybe you have run across in your other life (as a techie), or even here at ObWi:

A complex system that works is invariably found to have evolved from a simple system that worked. A complex system designed from scratch never works and cannot be patched up to make it work. You have to start over with a working simple system.

good stuff, russell.

i wish i had the temperament to practice as much as it would take to be as good as i want to be. but i just don't, in anything.

i've been watching a lot of YouTube vids from a guy named Adam Neely. he's a bassist in NYC who does vids about the life of a working bassist, about music theory, music in general. all interesting stuff to me. and i'm learning a lot about all of that (though i don't play bass and don't live in NYC - he's just a good presenter). but what i've really learned is that, even though i would love to be, i am not a musician. i don't have that mental connection to the core of rhythm and harmony and intervals that actual musicians do. and i'm so jealous of those who do.

If you're thinking about what you're doing, you're not doing it

My favorite of the list. Being a teacher of something one loves to do is difficult for this reason, I think. So easy to show, so hard to explain. So hard not to just jump in and take over.

It is part of the reason there are so few great teachers. I think you have to be able to step back and see the multiple logical steps that you took, subconsciously, in what looked like an intuitive leap. At least, that's what I find I have to do in explaining things.

That's the connection to "to play something fast, practice by playing it slowly many many many many times." Only after numerous iterations of the same analysis do you reach the point where you can bounce thru a dozen screens too fast for others to read them, and then pronounce: "The problem is here."

Great post!

“Everything is really in three”

Ok here’s a strictly non-technical perspective on this: you express
a musical intuition (which I realize is also evident as a mathematical fact) that will keep you on your toes...You deftly balance the other “slow everything down” intuitions on the list.

If you're thinking about what you're doing, you're not doing it

Relates to one of the things I tell my students in my writing class. Start writing before you think you are ready to write your paper. You think you know what you are going to say, but when you start trying to say it you will find that you either aren't able to say it the way you thought or that it doesn't really work the way you thought. An idea that's not written out in actual words is just a phantom.

Start with the simplest thing that works

Also good writing advice, along with "start writing the part you are ready to write - the beginning usually is the last thing to appear."

Record yourself whenever you can and listen back. What you hear in real time on the gig is not what's really happening.

Why I tell my students not to wait until the day before something is due. If you "finish" early it gives you a chance to walk away and forget long enough that when you come back to it one more time and read it out loud you can hear more clearly the parts that still need revision.
-----------
As far as music goes, I think in the last year I have picked up an instrument more than in any previous year. I've had guitars for a long time and enjoyed messing with them and learning some songs, but it wasn't until I picked up a bass in the last couple years that I felt like I had found something that I could play that makes sense to me and puts rhythm and tonality to work the ways that I have always felt them and heard them in my head. It's like my hands are finding their voice.

thanks everyone for your replies!

Janie, the drummer is largely responsible for articulating the tempo, but not necessarily for setting it. If there's a vocalist on the gig, I defer to them, because otherwise they're trying to spit out words as fast as they can (if tempo is too fast), or they're getting dizzy trying to stretch their last breath out long enough until the next word comes along (if too slow).

In ballroom dance, there is a concept of dance frame. The guy (usually) is responsible for structuring a space within which the woman (usually) can move more freely. In most popular styles, the drummer's job is to provide dance frame for the rest of the ensemble. It's an act, and a role, of service.

I like Gall's Law.

cleek, the Adam Neely thing is pretty cool. I clicked through, the first video that popped up discussed "what is the slowest possible tempo for music". Neely argues for 33 bpm, which seems about right.

There's a great, kind of legendary drum teacher who used to live near Toronto named Jim Blackley. He just passed away sometime in the last year, but he was, not famous, but almost universally known among drummers. A key part of his approach was to practice at 40 bpm.

If you try that, you will find it very, very hard. You have to change the speed of your brain, it's almost like practice as a form of meditation.

wj, I hadn't made the "many many times" connection that you make. That is an interesting insight, I am going to ponder it for a while.

b9n10t, I am still trying to get my head inside the "everything is in 3" thing. I got that from a guy I studied Afro-Cuban drumming with. He had worked for many years with Harry Belafonte, and that insight was something that Belafonte's bass player dropped on him.

He didn't really complete get it, I certainly don't. I recognize it as being true, but I don't know how it is true.

The African legacy is a very amazing thing, and part of it has to do with the way patterns retain their identity across different expressions. For a lot of those styles, the distinction between (for instance) 3/4 and 4/4 time is not that important, you can kind of weave between them, or even lay them on top of each other. A rhythm that we would think of as being analogous in the two time signatures, are kind of considered to be the same.

Which reminds me that I owe LJ a post about clave.

The preference for 3/4 (i.e., why "everything in 3" rather than "everything in 4") seems, maybe, perhaps, to have to do with thinking of things as cycles.

That's all I got on the topic. If I had another three lifetimes, I'm sure I could tease a little more out of it.

Nous, I suspect you are a good writing teacher. And, if I were to do it all over again, I'd probably play bass.

Bass is, really, where it's at. It's the motherlode.

It's an act, and a role, of service.

That’s interesting. I don’t play drums, but I kind of can play drums. I’ve played casually with friends when there wasn’t a real drummer available.

I remember very distinctly playing with a guitarist friend many years ago. I sat behind the crappy, cobled-together kit he had in his house for horsing around. I started playing the beginning of “The Rover” by Zeppelin, and he just jumped on the guitar part right away, so off we went.

We were really in the groove, and it was a particularly good drumming session for non-drummer me. I got to feeling like I was playing for him. Everything I did was in support of his guitar playing, as though I was giving him things when I would hit the snare or the crash cymbal.

It was like I was thinking, but really feeling, “Sean needs me to do this now,” and that’s what I would do.

It was like I was thinking, but really feeling, “Sean needs me to do this now,” and that’s what I would do.

Nice framing, hsh.

It's an act, and a role, of service.

As is being an accompanist, or playing music at contra dances. My willingness to take that role was exploited in unpleasant ways in high school, until I got sick of it and rebelled.

But playing in a little neighborhood band, mostly at contra dances, was one of the most fun things I've ever done. My favorite part was just watching people dance. I never danced myself, because I have a vertigo problem and there can be a lot of spinning. But I loved playing my favorite music while watching people have a great time dancing to it.

Also, playing at dances was just about right for my dilettantish semi-commitment to the fiddle. (So many of russell's precepts honored in the breach and not the observance.....) Concert playing would have required far more practice and dedication. At dances, it's the "rhythm instruments" that are key, and the fiddle is just icing. (IMO.) I do have a good ear, and dances mostly aren't played wildly fast, so I was just about good enough.

I have no interest in being any sort of musician, but drum specific details aside, this is good advice for life in general.

Now I just have to follow it.

Russell: Record yourself whenever you can and listen back. What you hear in real time on the gig is not what's really happening.

Nous: Why I tell my students not to wait until the day before something is due. If you "finish" early it gives you a chance to walk away and forget long enough that when you come back to it one more time and read it out loud you can hear more clearly the parts that still need revision.

This latter seems like a way to accomplish the same end as "Have another pair of eyes run over it" -- adapted to situations were there are no other eyes available/permitted. But it's good advice for a lot of fields.

wj, I hadn't made the "many many times" connection that you make. That is an interesting insight, I am going to ponder it for a while.

Russell, I think I came to it via martial arts. I spent a lot of years doing medieval European broadsword fighting. And one of the critical teaching techniques was "slow work": take something that happens in the blink of an eye (i.e. too fast to follow) and slow it down so it take more like 10-15 seconds. That's long enough to see, and talk about, the details. Including what you are doing with your legs and hips, not just your hand and arm. Makes for great warm-ups, too.

Well, the fiddle is required. If you want to play in Texas. Nothing drives a reel better.

Not sure about anywhere else in the world but square dancing was required part of PE curriculum when I was growing up. Fiddles and callers.

The unique relationship between bass players and drummers has intrigued me for decades. Their roles are so codependent it seems to drive great respect or complete inability to function, pretty yes or no.

Just my experience.

WJ - It is like having another pair of eyes run over it, but with two important distinctions. First, it's a way of teaching yourself to see your own writing and writing process more clearly. And it's a way of learning to be "another." If we cannot put ourselves in another's place, we aren't actually communicating.

Secondly, unlike another pair of eyes, the writer understands their own intentions and is not as susceptible to being swept along to a wrong conclusion if a word or phrase goes awry.

Second readers are most important for seeing the seams we are wallpapering over or the missed opportunities to engage, or the writing foibles we are personally blind to. Also very important things, but in service to a different sort of improvement.

unlike another pair of eyes, the writer understands their own intentions and is not as susceptible to being swept along to a wrong conclusion if a word or phrase goes awry.

It seems to me that that's one of the benefits of a second pair of eyes: someone who doesn't know what is intended is someone who can spot where the author has been unclear. Too much knowledge is actually a handicap. Isn't that part of what a formal editor does?

The knowledge of the intention is important, though. Many times I find that the second readers don't see a wrong turn as the writer being unclear, but rather as the writer supporting a point, not knowing that the writer intends to support a different (or opposite) point.

An accomplished second reader can tease out the inconsistencies and harry the writer down the correct paths, but those sorts of readers are few and far between. Treasure them when you find them.

"I spent a lot of years doing medieval European broadsword fighting."

second only to "I'm thinking of acquiring a hog splitter"

as the best casual toss-off in OBWI commenting history.

As my aunt used to say: "Well, that's a conversation stopper."

This is a great post and thread, particularly about music and writing (Nous).

The type of post I miss from the old OBWI.

I've realized that I'm good at baseball because I've put thousands and thousands of hours in since I was roughly five years old doing it, in slo-on, medium-mo and all out-mo, but I've never transferred these insights to other pursuits, namely music and writing, expecting instead, like a fool, that exquisite product would emerge like Pallas Athene from my forehead at the last minute fully formed with residual checks arriving soon after.

Soon, I will begin living my life backwards and applying these lessons.

When the Beatles went to Hamburg, they definitely had "something", but they were lousy musicians.

When asked how they became so good, one or all of them said, in so many words "Well, you put in thousands of hours of playing while screaming Germanic humans throw half-full beer bottles at you all night, and you too can become good at what you do."

TOUCH the guitar, you say.

I might try that today.

This is a great post and thread, particularly about music and writing (Nous).

The type of post I miss from the old OBWI.

And we all owe Russell for kicking it off.

And we all owe Russell for kicking it off.

Indeed.

I've been thinking a lot about listening recently, especially as it relates to teaching writing. One of my go-to metaphors for argumentative writing for years has been to compare it to the martial arts and then to filter writing advice through bits of Bruce Lee. This thread has me thinking about music as a less oppositional example of the importance of communication.

So what good examples do we have of musicians really listening to each other in ways that develop something like a conversation? What would you play for someone to help them grok the importance of listening and of responding in ways that add to the meaning?

I plan to steal shamelessly and share widely.

It was like I was thinking, but really feeling, “Sean needs me to do this now,” and that’s what I would do.

this.

"slow work": take something that happens in the blink of an eye (i.e. too fast to follow) and slow it down so it take more like 10-15 seconds. That's long enough to see, and talk about, the details. .

also, this.

Well, the fiddle is required. If you want to play in Texas. Nothing drives a reel better.

also, this.

rhythm section lays the fire. fiddle lights the match.

This latter seems like a way to accomplish the same end as "Have another pair of eyes run over it"

The recording yourself thing is, specifically, about hearing if your intent is making its way through your hands, into the instrument, and thus into the room.

The tendency is to intend something and assume that's what happened. If you're not listening really really carefully the feedback loop may not be completed. And, you don't want to FUBAR the live thing by paying exquisite attention to what you yourself are doing, see also "if you're thinking about it, you're not doing it".

So, record yourself, listen back, and see how close you got. Then, adjust. Lather rinse and repeat. For 10,000 hours. :)

So what good examples do we have of musicians really listening to each other in ways that develop something like a conversation?

Off the top of my head, I recommend the interplay of Paul Desmond and Jim Hall on pretty much anything they were both on. Both guys play modestly enough that you can follow their thought process as they work through ideas. Hall's accompaniment behind Desmond is just brilliant comping work - supportive, creative, present but not in the way.

There is a lot of classical solo voice stuff where the accompaniment is just brilliant. Like a pas de deux.

Let me think about this some more.

We are officially way above my pay grade, and anyhow I think I've shared this link before, because I love it so much. But...

Even though I don't think it's quite what you-all are now talking about, this performance came immediately to mind when I read nous's question and russell's answer: Apollo's Fire playing Brandenburg concerto #3.

Not only is it a wonderful rendition, but the camera work captures the expressions and interactions of the musicians, plus Jeannette Sorell's conducting, and most fun of all, how they all just seem to be having such a great time.

A conversation:

https://youtu.be/NWzoHwP4T4g

Not sure about anywhere else in the world but square dancing was required part of PE curriculum when I was growing up.

we had many square dancing units in my elementary school PE classes (mid-70s), in upstate NY. maybe it was in fashion at the time, like wearing an onion on your belt.

A better link:

https://youtu.be/dnIFxKTxP5s

Take your tempo from the vocalist.

unless you're the Rolling Stones. in that case, you follow Keith.

unless you're the Rolling Stones. in that case, you follow Keith.

damned straight

I may not be able to take part much at the moment, but I too want to register my appreciation for this thread (and others like it). I am not particularly musical, and have never played an instrument (after a disastrously boring early try with the piano), but russell's maxims make sense to me in other ways, and Nous's comments make perfect sense to me on their own terms.

JanieM, that Apollo's Fire performance is wonderful. I don't remember seeing it before (could be my memory going, if you have posted it here), but I'm glad I have now!

I know even less about music.

It's Bloomseason and my annual decision has been made. Not gonna read it again this year, remember too much.

In Joycean spirit, reading Charles Rosen, The Classical style. This is hilarious, cause don't play an instrument, barely know what a chord is or circle of fifths, and wonder what all those funny marks are. Couldn't pick out an e flat by sight or sound. So understanding maybe 20% of what I read. I like this.

Reason I moved toward music theory, besides gentle but complicated music being good for old stoners, so Haydn and Bach partitas and John Williams guitar...was Alvin Lee.

Playing Cricklewood Green, I decided that what made the Love Like a Man solo so widely acclaimed was also in the even more acclaimed and near contemporaneous solo by Duane on the Boz Scaggs Brother Can You Spare a Dime. Both seemed to strongly punctuate their solos with stops (cadences?), starting from same note, going wild, and then dropping down to a hard note at the end and restarting, with phrases shorter, maybe two measures. In neither case is there global development, the individual phrases don't go anywhere which may increase excitement and tension.

IOW, were they doing classic development stuff, stating a tonic, developing or exposition, and then forcefully returning to the tonic, and is this why it sounds good. Also, jazz solos. I just want a clue.

Hall and Desmond are too tame for me, not a fan of West Coast cool. I am listening to a lot of third rank 55-65 jazz (1st rank:Trane, Rollins, Gordon, Pepper. 2nd rank: Desmond, Stitt, Mobley.) Third Rank?: Don Byas, Bill Perkins, Harold Land. I am trying to pick out, by listening to the mediocre, what makes the great great. I can hear it but not say it. Doing the same with Boccherini and Salieri, but they may be too good right now.

Listening to classical and rock, I am bothered by the lack of (obbligato?) accompaniement. Why don't the horns comp each other, let along doing the polyphony, counterpoint harmony, all the multipart stuff that the 18th century perfected.

I can't get over the 4:53. Just amazing, but I am so glad I can't do that stuff. Everybody is just so goddamn wunnerful wunnerful, ain't they?

Too long

Way too long.

Sound system? Contemptible. Some weird looking 75 dollar altecs connected to a self-built altec desktop.

I wonder if the amount of body movement seen in that Apollo's Fire video would have been frowned upon, say, a hundred years ago or earlier.

Bach was the Elvis of his day, but only above the waist.

Corsets and stays were thrown:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KmmJCeps8MY

All best toward ends.

50k Beneath My Brain

Side one has "a" standard type guitar solo, start slow and low, speed up and go high. I liked this more as a kid, cause dynamics.

Love Like a Man

Maybe the band is doing the dynamics and development here in which case is our pleasure misdirected to the soloist?

Loan Me a Dime

Lee is great. But what does that make Duane? The blues makes this a little easier. I fault Allman for his limited repertoire, he could do so much more than Whipping Post.

What I was talking about isn't so clear as I thought. Duane is mostly doing a phrase, theme in unison with the band, with embellishments. Not as punctuated as Lee.

I wonder if the amount of body movement seen in that Apollo's Fire video would have been frowned upon, say, a hundred years ago or earlier.

"Classical," 18thc music is dance music

And/Or background. Don't really know how constant, but if I were Esterhazy paying a fortune for my personal orchestra, I would have a few players in a corner 24/7, with sitdown concerts for evenings. Followed by more personal stuff for a smaller crowd.

Picked up a book about an 18thc schlub pickup violinist, played in like 8 countries in thirty years. Curious about how good sight reading was, since they never rehearsed.

We have devolved.

Says something that I prefer Haydn to M & B.

Hall and Desmond are too tame for me

Could be, but I figured "Ghosts" and "Unit Structures" were probably not the places to start.

Between Lee and Allman, I'll take Allman. Lee plays guitar, Allman plays melodies. To each his or her own.

Oh, Allman's better, and any criticism is like Rosen claiming the last movement of B's 9th is a relative musical failure. nipping at heels here.

After Authenticity

"Has it occurred to you that nobody talks about sellouts anymore?"

"But I haven’t heard about anyone selling out in a long while. Sometime between 2008 and 2018, capitalizing on your success as an artist to build a skate brand went from being reprehensible to being the thing that everyone is doing.'

2008, huh. hoocudanode? It was perfectly clear after the financial crisis that Obama (and Clinton) were all about the cashing in on public service. We all knew that Obama was going to get very very fucking rich, and that was his intention and purpose.

Set the tone for the whole country and culture.

Scroll down, The mag cover is funny. "Brooklyn and Bailey explain how you can make millions on Youtube just by being yourself." Cause your body is a treasure, price beyond pearls. Why aren't people throwing money at you?

Ain't no guys on the cover of "Teen Boss," but there are a couple of blacks, because teen bosses ain't racists.

I was a drummer, and love to watch good drummers.

Here's my observation:

To strike, on must first lift the stick away from the drum.
Rebound from the last note forms the first part of the stroke that will deliver the next note. Great drummers have great recovery: they're always on their way, and never in a hurry.

Marty skrev

Not sure about anywhere else in the world but square dancing was required part of PE curriculum when I was growing up.

I think it was pretty much nationwide during the early sixties. Like JFK's fitness push, but much less obviously a campaign. But it was a deliberate campaign.

As this is a non-political thread, I'll leave researching the politics of that campaign as an exercise for the reader.

In addition to all the other wonderfulness going on, in the second half of this video you can see that the drummer is really having big fun :
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z7s9A3s8iv8

yes indeed, to joel haynes, at 12:35.

You can see what I mean by the recovery being part of the stroke in Sonny Greer's short solo starting at 2:25
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gOlpcJhNyDI

Wow! Just wow!

Last One, then I am hitting the spoon and reading about Henri Lefebvre. "Why Read Old Philosophy" or why read Marx instead of 150 years of Marxism, or listen to Haydn. Says something about translation.

Just finished a book about translation, one of the subjects I read in, and got a story.

The early 20th century Japanese art-writers, being naturalists (like Dreiser, Norris, Gorky), hated Genji monogatari. Less than 20% ever picked it up at all.

There was a critic who just hated Genji, thought it was one of the worst written books ever. He went to Europe in the 20s and kept encountering Euros who mentioned Genji with raves.

So, what the hell, he went and bought the Arthur Waley translation. In translation, this Japanese critic determined suddenly that Genji was a world masterpiece, and wrote Japanese articles saying so, which inspired people to look at a 1910 or so excellent modernization and soon inspired Tanizaki to do his masterpiece translation work.

Point being, Genji was a world masterpiece before it was a national one.

Great drummers have great recovery: they're always on their way, and never in a hurry.

That's something I could never understand about Neil Peart. (And I think russell and I have discussed this before.) Seeing video of his play, it seems his wrists are very stiff. He doesn't let the bounce of the sticks do much of the work for him. He uses his whole arm like a wind-up toy.

Meanwhile, I've seen death metal drummers playing ridiculously fast stuff, and they barely move other than laterally when going from one side of the hit to another.

Neil Peart

Peart is obviously a very accomplished guy, but he is not a good example of proper drumming ergonomics. I'm surprised he has been / was able to keep doing it for as long as he has.

Another kind of drumming excellence
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JHXNaYoguNU

Meanwhile, I've seen death metal drummers playing ridiculously fast stuff, and they barely move other than laterally when going from one side of the hit to another.

Case in point, Thomas Haake - not death metal, but extreme metal with insanely complex grooves that he executes with amazing efficiency.

Or Sean Reinert, ex-drummer from Cynic, who helped define the bridge between jazz and death metal.

But I can't let mention of Cynic go without giving recognition to their bassist, Sean Malone, playing technical jazz/death fusion on a fretless bass and making it groove and sing.

Listening and communication wise, I remember an old VHS with Mark Knopfler giving a guitar masterclass where he was listening to three students showing him their approach to the instrument and then engaging with them to try to get them thinking and feeling their own music in a new way. I was struck by what a good listener and teacher Knopfler was, which is not always the case with highly skilled musicians. He was completely engaged with what the other player was doing and not just waiting to say what he had to say or show what he had to show.

Case in point, Thomas Haake

As soon as I saw this (the text, not the video at the link), I knew it was going to be the "Clockworks" play-through video.

This guy's pretty smooth, too:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vUs1_OKQRwI

GftNC:

If that wow was for St. Paul :
I like this one the best of all, although the drumming is very simple indeed --

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4ZFhnzTriqU

Very fine stuff, that band.

Thanks, Joel.

For the Walker Percy readers among us:

http://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/walker-percys-funny-and-frightening-prophecy/

What I really appreciate about Percy is that his idiosyncratically syncopated rhythms can lay down a bed underneath most any partisan political noise.

Carry on with the music.

The wow was for the Duke Ellington piece, as well as its drumming, but I loved the St Paul as well. Thanks, Joel Hanes, for bright spots in dark times.

OI have to admit that whenever I listen to Jazz (especially live) and the drum (or bass) solo comes on, I think "that's really lovely and you're totally awesome, but let's get on with it", so I think of drums as supporting role - that's unfair, unjust and I'm not very knowledgeable, but there you go.

One big exception: Art Blakey! - he's so incredibly energetic and relaxed at the same time, and he knows how to integrate the drums into the larger context of the piece (he was a bandleader for a reason I guess).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V6exnwztPK8

Check out the duo work done by Bill Bruford and Tony Levin sometime. Bruford is extending the palette for drumming with drum triggers that allow him to play sampled chords and Levin is playing both bass and Chapman Stick (though not at the same time, that would be too sick even for him).

And here's a video of Michael Manring on solo fretless bass showing what a bass is capable of in some very talented hands: Red Right Returning. It astounds me every time I watch it with it's mix of extreme technicality and expressiveness.

drumming with drum triggers

a while back - like, 30+ years ago, i realize with some alarm - i saw notable boston drummer syd smart do a solo drum set performance at kresge auditorium, on the mit campus.

the drum kit was all drum triggers, which would trigger a recording of a person speaking a single word. as syd played, he picked which triggers to hit to compose a sentence of his choosing.

and, as he did this, some mit tech dude would swap out the vocal sample for some other word. the vocubalry shifted under his feet, or sticks, as he played.

so, a duo improvisation.

geeky but hip.

syd smart is a great freaking drummer, i wish more folks knew of him. i think these days he's mostly teaching in the public school system.

a different while back, more like 6 or 8 years ago, my niece's then-husband was working as a tour manager for nitzer ebb. he comped me a ticket to check out a show in a medium sized club in boston.

all, or at least mostly, electronic triggers for the drum set(s).

that drummer as a freaking machine. metronomic in that relentless krautrock way.

unfortunately, the bass volume was so loud i thought it was gonna make me puke. it was, literally, so loud that it was difficult to think, so, i had to bail.

i'm really an acoustic sound guy, but folks do some really interesting things with the electronics.

I listen to a lot of mussic, not everything, but a lot, but know little about it, and certainly not enough to know a good drummer from a bad one, or even have preferences as to drummers. For the most part, I barely hear them, and believe that is how it maybe should be. Like a film editor. Certain particular songs, but it would be embarrassing...og, Greg Lake on KC's second*, Keif Hartley, Fleetwood, Buford...Colin Walcott, Krautrock of course. Prefer alap to jhala.

Funny, without really understanding why, Tony Williams has been scrupulously avoided over the decades, although I have tried. The 2nd Miles quintet, the Lifetime...I can't seem to hear it, it makes no impression. Too busy?

*I swear Lake's the lead (?) on the title cut.

Is this a music thread, drummer thread, or kata/do thread?

New to me music last night:

Buffalo Rose, Soil and Seed: light bluegrass, softer Americana, maybe a little more dramatic than the Adcocks, Robin & Linda Williams, Yarn, Waifs, Wailin Jennys. Good stuff.

Otis Taylor, mean mandolin blues, but nowhere as mean as purported, not as mean as Johnny Dowd, very personal music. Closer to above blgr artists maybe.

Tallis Taverner, Crown of Thorns Mass: strangle a soprano and create an angel, dude? Challenging intense shit here, the top voices an octave+ above the rest and very very active. Sopranos not disconnected exactly as pushing pushing pulling at the harmonies skywards. Music of the Spheres here, egress to paradise.

No drums above.

Collins, Wildflowers, one of my favorites, picked up a high-def. Collins hit genius and perfection in the three albums. Arranger Rifkin, an early music guy, provide continuo on Both Sides Now*. Like I have said, I am interested in following the harmonies and structure of stuff like this, but read a guy who said it took him three days to do a score for a song.

Oh, Children's Children's Children for nostalgia, Dollar Brand, I forget. Currently:Trane, Blue Train,Blue Train.

*just...so defiant challenging even hard on "Something gained" gentling down into tough and strong on "in living every day" she's extraordinarily acting emoting projecting but i am unclear as to what she is using to do it. Timbre?

For the most part, I barely hear them, and believe that is how it maybe should be.

speaking as a drummer, I agree.

without really understanding why, Tony Williams has been scrupulously avoided over the decades, although I have tried. The 2nd Miles quintet, the Lifetime...I can't seem to hear it, it makes no impression. Too busy?

Drummers generally love Tony, because judging by categories drummers generally dig he is a nearly perfect player. Just a freaking brilliant, prodigiously gifted player. Utterly flawless.

He was also an incredibly strong player, irrepressibly so. Both in terms of technique, and ideas, and personal attitude and on-stage deportment. Tony could kick your ass, and would do so. Not necessarily loud or overplaying, he just could and would come the hell at you. Come at you, run you over, bury you, push you right off the stage. Maybe because he thought the music needed it, maybe because he wanted to see what you had, maybe because you had an argument backstage before the show, maybe because he didn't like your shirt, maybe just because he couldn't hold it in. Mostly because he thought the music needed it and/or he couldn't hold it in.

So, not a lay-back and blend in guy. Don't get on stage with him if that's what you wanted, because it was not on offer.

He was capable of incredible subtlety, see his work on (frex) Nefertiti, or anything he did with Sam Rivers ever, but later in his career he mostly played really loud and fairly aggressively. Because he wanted to, and he was Anthony Tillmon Freaking Williams.

In some ways, it's kind of like a Keith Moon thing (ish), but that analogy only goes so far, because Tony really was just an amazing player and musician. A once in a lifetime event. There may never be anyone that good again - that naturally gifted, that hard-working on the instrument, that technically accomplished, that relentlessly interactive.

If you want to blow your mind, consider that the work he did with Sam Rivers, he did when he was 14 and 15 and 16. He started playing with Jackie McLean when he was 16, and his tenure with Miles began when he was 17.

Some of the absolutely best playing in the jazz style - really, a pinnacle in the history of the music - and he was 17 and 18 and 19 years old.

Just an amazing, amazing player, hard to overstate it. But, that doesn't necessarily translate to something everyone will want to listen to, and that is fine.

RIP Tony Williams.

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