Friday, November 27, 2020

We get mentioned on YouTube sort of

Hey, it looks like one of my posts was a catalyst for a video by a semi well-known opaquely-named YouTuber. He has been the victim of some kind of smear campaign to make his videos seem negative, competition-oriented, and status-obsessed. Which they are, but he wants them not to be thought of that way. 

At least the few I've seen. I tried to “research” this further by watching a couple more videos, but I couldn't hang with it. Clearly I am not the intended audience. Looking at the list of his videos en masse I'm getting a very similar vibe as some YouTube nitwits I've written about previously. Not good. I know he he's had an education, but I'm not seeing any evidence of any depth at all. If it's there I wish he would put it in his videos. But he doesn't. I'm starting to feel cheated for the 15 minutes it costs to watch them.  

Sidebar: If you want to know what substantive, positively-focused content looks like, take a snoop through the archives of fellow bloggers Jon McCaslin and Ted Warren.  

So, this new video is partly a reaction to my post Authenticity, which he quotes and screencaps, but doesn't mention this site by name, or link to the post. Normal etiquette would be to at least identify the subject of your quote, but YouTubing is not really about that. 

My post was partly about my own experiences with the concept of authenticity, as a young white jazz student and musician from the Pacific Northwest; and it was partly about my reaction to his video “DOES AUTHENTICITY MATTER?”, in which goes at great length about authenticity in jazz as being about achieving supreme status, and surviving punishing combat, and people being mean to you— a lot of sturm und drang.   

Anyway, here, because I link to things I talk about, is the new video: 

Noted that it wraps up with a pitch for his method of learning jazz by learning hiphop instead, which I also reviewed in a previous post

So, I feel I'm seeing a strange act of deflection; he argues against himself being perceived as a kind of mean, gatekeeping “music school jazz nerd” drummer, while putting that same criticism onto others, who presumably are guilty of it. 

The opening is pure fear and adversary— the frame is that people are trying embarrass you for being interested in what they're interested in... jazz drumming... to which the natural response is to be scared and aggrieved and run away and give up. 

Marketing adolescent fear is very popular on the internet. People love the idea that there are disapproving, purely ego-motivated jazz snobs who will correct your errors unapologetically, and to punish them by quitting and not listening to them is awesome. Hop over there and look at the comments. It's one big celebration of quitting jazz for the hatred of mythical jazz snobs.      

He claims to be encouraging to newcomers, but saying I am encouraging is not the same thing as being encouraging. Especially when, in the very next sentence, he helplessly reverts to the old crucible of high performance competition business. 

Arguing with that framing is like turning on Fox News and saying “well, at least they put their bias up front.” But it's influencing you in ways you don't even understand. You think “well, I know this is bullshit, so the truth must be the opposite of that.” But you're still living on their terms, while the real truth is in another country and time zone, speaking a language you've never heard of. Like, I'm talking about making wine and you're talking about clawing your way to the top writing an android app. Bringing the mentality of the latter into the former is a recipe for some fucked-up wine. 

I'll close by saying I don't care about the superficial conflict aspect of this— beyond being a little bit irked at not being credited for my quote— none of this is personal, it is about the content of a line of video product, which happens to reflect some very common negative attitudes promoted on the internet. I only comment on it because we can learn something about being musicians, teachers, and media consumers from it. Today the lesson is beware of living in other people's narratives, doing so may mess you up in ways you don't expect or understand. And maybe don't sell fear and ego

[h/t to Anthony Amodeo, an excellent drummer and teacher living in New York, for alerting me to this video]

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

From the zone: ECM feel

Here's something sent in by Ed Stalling of Missoula, Montana. He mentioned being inspired by my ECM feel post from 2012— which definitely needs to be revisited and some links updated— but he's got his own thing happening here. 

I like the idea of notating flam rudiments for two voices this way. Normally on drumset I would write them with two complete rhythms on one set of stems. Here you can ignore some of the notes, and just play the basic sticking pattern, and add the flams to make the more challenging overlapping independent rhythms. It really suggests some interesting possibilities for ways of practicing Stick Control. You could do that with the flam pages from Stone, but I don't find it real inspiring with the flams/unisons in the same place every time.  

Get the pdf

I encourage you to send in your own writings for inclusion in a “FROM THE ZONE” post— seriously, anything scraped off the floor of your practice room, where you wrote something out to figure it out. I don't care how bad it looks. I want it to look bad. Take a picture with your phone and send it to my email link you see in the sidebar. 

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Transcription: Art Blakey fours - Well, You Needn't

Just a couple of solo 4s from Art Blakey, from the 1953 Miles Davis 10-inch release, Vol. 3. You'll most likely find it on a later Blue Note compilation. The tune is Well, You Needn't. Miles and Blakey trade on the first two A sections of the head out, Miles plays the melody on the bridge. The first drum break happens at 4:18. 

He's mostly playing stick shots on the snare drum, as you can see. The normal snare hits are played with the left hand, the shots with the right. He feathers the bass drum throughout. 

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Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Reed method: bass drum with quarter note triplet filler - key

See, this is what I'm talking about— writing/organizing materials a certain way, you get practice ideas you wouldn't have gotten just practicing the books. I could have used this 30 years ago, but it came up yesterday when I was practicing my syncopation exercise with two notes per measure. It's totally impractical and pointless to do this with the regular exercises in Syncopation, and a pretty obvious thing to do with my two-note pages.   

We're playing jazz time, with the exercise melody rhythm on the bass drum, and filling in the remainder of the quarter note triplet, or inverted quarter note triplet, on the snare drum. Creating an Elvin Jones-like texture.  

Play through the examples on this page, then run the method with my two-note, one line exercises, and then yesterday's full page exercise. I left out the hihat for visual clarity— play the hihat on beats 2 and 4, or whatever you want to do with it. 

Get the pdf

Monday, November 16, 2020

Syncopation exercise: two notes per measure - 01

Another syncopation exercise written with a special set of parameters— this one just has two notes per measure, with quarter note or greater spacing. Last year I did a page of one-line exercises that way. This is good for basic jazz comping at faster tempos. I always include a stems-down part in quarter notes just for tradition, out of respect for Ted Reed. I never incorporate them with any of my practice methods. 

And a basic solo method this is good for: Hit the melody notes on a cymbal + bass drum, fill the rest of the grid on the snare drum with 8th notes or triplets, alternating sticking, playing the fill notes as taps or double strokes, or multiple bounce strokes.  

Get the pdf

Sunday, November 15, 2020

Very occasional quote of the day: the point of doing things

“When I was 15, I spent a month working on an archeological dig.  I was talking to one of the archeologists one day during our lunch break and he asked those kinds of “getting to know you” questions you ask young people: Do you play sports?  What’s your favorite subject? And I told him, no I don’t play any sports. I do theater, I’m in choir, I play the violin and piano, I used to take art classes.

And he went WOW. That’s amazing! And I said, “Oh no, but I’m not any good at ANY of them.”

And he said something then that I will never forget and which absolutely blew my mind because no one had ever said anything like it to me before: 

“I don’t think being good at things is the point of doing them.  I think you've got all these wonderful experiences with different skills, and that all teaches you things and makes you an interesting person, no matter how well you do them.”

And that honestly changed my life. Because I went from a failure, someone who hadn’t been talented enough at anything to excel, to someone who did things because I enjoyed them. I had been raised in such an achievement-oriented environment, so inundated with the myth of Talent, that I thought it was only worth doing things if you could “Win” at them.”

— Kurt Vonnegut

Thanks to my former student Karen for sharing this. 

Friday, November 13, 2020

Another set of patterns for improvisation

File this in the same category as the recent “extended shuffle” stickings page— it's a unified set of patterns based on a simple idea, organized to make them easy to improvise with. They're not new patterns, but we haven't seen them collected as a single idea before. 

These are right hand-accented, alternating stickings ending with a RRLL— or a RRL with the odd-numbered patterns. Get a feel for the premise by playing the first pattern on the first five lines— they all lean heavily on the strong beats. The last three patterns are really just inversions of the extended shuffle patterns, but I've included them so you can play them as an extension of this basic idea. 

Practice tips:

  • Play them as 8th notes, 16th notes, or triplets in any time signature. 
  • They are for soloing, for playing texturally, or for playing an ECM-type feel. 
  • It's easy to play them fast, but they're meant for all tempos. 
  • Play the hands on different instruments/sounds, and improvise moving them around the drums.
  • Play with the RH on a cymbal, with the bass drum in unison.
  • Add/vary accents with the left hand.   
  • Try other stickings with the same accents, as in my harmonic coordination method. Best to start with straight alternating, and single-handed. 

Get the pdf

Thursday, November 12, 2020

Listening and loops for jazz students

For my jazz students, here is a list of much loved, mainstream, historically important recordings to listen to in your first few years of learning. 

I'm also in the process of updating the practice loop labels, to group them by genre or interest. So here is a link for all my loops, and a link for just the jazz loops.  

Miles Davis
Round About Midnight - Philly Joe Jones
The New Miles Davis Quintet - Philly Joe Jones
Workin' / Steamin' /Cookin' / Relaxin' - Philly Joe Jones
Milestones - Philly Joe Jones
Kind of Blue - Jimmy Cobb
Bags' Groove - Kenny Clarke
Walkin' - Kenny Clarke

Thelonious Monk
Trio - Max Roach, Art Blakey
Monk's Dream - Frankie Dunlop
It's Monk's Time - Ben Riley
Criss Cross - Frankie Dunlop
Misterioso - Roy Haynes

Sonny Rollins
Saxophone Colossus - Max Roach
Freedom Suite - Max Roach
Newk's Time - Philly Joe Jones

More after the break!

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Three Camps for drum set - inverted - 05

Another page working on normal jazz drumset vocabulary using Three Camps— we're sort of inverting the basic version, except I've taken a few liberties with it to make a normal Elvin-like texture out of it. That's what you hired me for, to know what you're supposed to be learning, and not waste your time with things that are hard and abnormal. 

I really like this whole method, and I think it is really worth your while to learn it, figuring out all the correct form for each version. It's easy when you do it. It's really good for people who like clearly-defined lesson assignments, or for undisciplined people like me who tend to drift into creative practice rather than practice things thoroughly.

Get the pdf