Monday, January 26, 2015

Page o' coordination: Afro 6/8 — “Guiro”

A new POC in 6/8, with a variation on our usual bell pattern, pulled directly from Ed Uribe's excellent, horrifying, massive book, The Essence of Afro-Cuban Percussion and Drum Set. The pattern comes from Guiro, a Cuban folkloric style which I know very little about— we're really just pilfering a rhythm from Cuban religious music and using it for our own ends— to put it in the crassest possible way. Developing ourselves as artists is a legitimate non-theistic, non-liturgical religious practice in its own right, so I don't think what we're doing is quite the moral equivalent of strip-mining Madagascar for minerals to build iPhones.

Personally, it's taking me a few sessions to get this together. Do all of the by-now familiar tom moves once you can play the page straight through without stopping. Because we want to be aware of the 3/4 cross rhythm, take a moment to practice this bell pattern along with quarter notes in the left foot:

The pattern is actually an inversion of our usual so-called “short” bell pattern. If you play the above rhythm starting on beat 2 in the 3/4 example, you'll get the short bell rhythm. It could also be considered a variation on the “long” bell pattern, except they've moved the first note off of the downbeat.

Get the pdf

Note: Here is some actual Guiro music. The bell part, played on a piece of metal here, is something we haven't seen before; it's not the rhythm we're using here. It's kind of difficult to be certain about the beat for awhile here, but you can see some participants clapping Rumba clave— we can assume it's in the 3-2 orientation, since I believe that is normal in folkloric settings. Around 6:20 the lead singer also claps the main pulse while others are clapping clave.

Groove o' the day: Bernard Purdie — Funk Down

Here's a bright proto-disco groove from Bernard Purdie, on the tune Funk Down, from Mongo Santamaria's Afro-Indio record:

The snare drum filler notes on the es happen more regularly, and more emphatically, than notes on the as, which are more random. Phrase transitions happen with a crash on the & of 4— mostly with cymbal and bass drum, occasionally with cymbal and snare.

Drat, I thought this one was on YouTube, but there's nothing but a technoid remix, with a mutilated Purdie track. This dance guy will tell you what's a funky drum part, so shut up, Purdie! I guess you'll just have to buy the record.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Two killer drum sets

I hope I'm not ruining somebody else's bargain by pointing these out, but a couple of really great drum sets turned up on eBay just in the past couple of days, and I would rather my readers got them, than some other non-CSD!-reading, undeserving, rabble...

Sonor Phonic Centennial 10/12/13/14/20 — starting bid $1700, BIN $2500
After playing and recording with some Sonor Phonics in Belgium in 2012, I had being driving myself crazy trying to get a set, and finally found some last year. These are the ones with the fat, 9-ply beech shells. Not many Phonics turn up in usable sizes, like these; you can get them in rock & roll sizes for under $1000, but non-power tom sets with 18 or 20" bass drums tend to be up in the high teen-hundreds or low 2000s. It's not an insane value, but not absolutely ridiculous, either. They are special instruments, though, and, to me, worth the money. I think I paid $1800 for my 12/14/18 bop set, and will probably be spending another $500 to add 10 and 13" toms, if I ever find them, so I think you're getting a pretty darned good deal here. Fortunately the auction doesn't include that goofy snare drum.

Eames 10/12/14/18 —$900-1200, depending on options
I would totally be buying these if I had not just gotten my Phonics. These are right in the sweet spot for quality / size / price / not having anything goofy about them. The toms are a little deeper than standard, but that's cool— it's not some ridiculous-looking power tom set. But this is the type of deal I hold out for when buying new drums; I basically would never pay more than this... except to get my Sonors. The Eames company, custom drum shell manufacturers, have been overshadowed somewhat by Keller with the drum-building crowd, but they're great drums. I just picked up a Craviotto-built (in the 80s) snare drum with a thin Eames shell, and I love the thing. The seller is offering some purchase options— I would be getting these with the snare drum, and without the die-cast hoops (assuming they provide standard hoops instead).

Both sellers are in the US Northeast, and say they'll do pickup only, but maybe you can cajole them into doing something for you. Whatever you do, resolve that before you buy...

Very occasional quote of the day: making In A Silent Way

Guitarist John McLoughlin on recording In A Silent Way with Miles Davis. Classic art can be very instantaneous:

[...] I had gone to New York to play with Tony [Williams] and Larry [Young], and I met Miles the day I arrived. I saw him again the next day and he said, “Come to the studio,” and that was the In a Silent Way recording. The title track is a Joe Zawinul tune and it’s a beautiful piece, only Miles didn’t like the way Joe set it up. So he said to me, “You play it. Everyone will stop and you play it.” Well, I had Joe’s part but there was no guitar part. So I said, “Listen, this is a piano part. Do you want the chords and the melody?” I was sweating so hard my clothes were soaked. That’s when he said, “Play it like you don’t know how to play the guitar.”

h/t to Scott K. Fish

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Daily best music in the world, again: TOM TOMS, MAN

Here's Billy Cobham playing with Ray Barretto in 1973. The tom toms are just outrageous— really exciting:

You never hear that sound any more— Steve Gadd just wiped everybody else out for fusion tom tom sounds— after him it was all 10 and 12 inch Yamahas with Pinstripes on them. That's still the standard studio pan-pop/funk sound you hear on everything. I guess Cobham is using Black Dots, tuned fairly tight, maybe with the bottoms heads a little looser than the top.

Here he is playing a large Gretsch set in 1974, with what look like Pinstripes on the toms, but they sure don't sound like them. Nice 22" Swish cymbal with ~10 rivets in it, there, too— people used to play loud enough to merit a cymbal like that. There was a really unbridled vibe to 70s music that, for all the skill of current players, we're missing today.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Daily best music in the world: Hal Galper Trio

Here's my brother, John Bishop, playing with Hal Galper, with Jeff Johnson on bass, at The Blue Whale in LA:

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Page o' coordination: basic — 05

Here's another basic funk/rock page o' coordination, this time using a series of es and as on the bass drum— to me this exact rhythm is a very 70s thing, and doing it with an open hihat on all of the bass drum notes was one of the first “licks” I ever noticed and tried to learn on the drums. Here we'll just use it as a convenient idiomatic rhythm for structuring a measure of 4/4 with a funk feel. Some of the exercises are usable performance patterns, but we're really just working out some coordination issues, here.

Learn to play the page straight through without stopping, playing each exercise at least four times. If you have any problem getting the timing of the bass drum notes, try counting the combined rhythm of all the parts before playing the exercise. See the first entry in this series for some practice suggestions.

Get the pdf

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Very occasional quote of the day: Herzog's 24 maxims

From a, here are 24 pieces of life/work/career advice from the filmmaker Werner Herzog:

1. Always take the initiative. 
2. There is nothing wrong with spending a night in jail if it means getting the shot you need.
3. Send out all your dogs and one might return with prey. 
4. Never wallow in your troubles; despair must be kept private and brief. 
5. Learn to live with your mistakes. 
6. Expand your knowledge and understanding of music and literature, old and modern. 
7. That roll of unexposed celluloid you have in your hand might be the last in existence, so do something impressive with it. 
8. There is never an excuse not to finish a film. 
9. Carry bolt cutters everywhere. 
10. Thwart institutional cowardice. 
11. Ask for forgiveness, not permission. 
12. Take your fate into your own hands. 
13. Learn to read the inner essence of a landscape. 
14. Ignite the fire within and explore unknown territory. 
15. Walk straight ahead, never detour. 
16. Manoeuvre and mislead, but always deliver. 
17. Don’t be fearful of rejection. 
18. Develop your own voice. 
19. Day one is the point of no return. 
20. A badge of honor is to fail a film theory class. 
21. Chance is the lifeblood of cinema. 
22. Guerrilla tactics are best. 
23. Take revenge if need be. 
24. Get used to the bear behind you.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

We tweet!

Would that we were actually talking
about Paul Klee's painting “The Twittering
Machine”,  and not social networking.
By the way, we'll be making a fresh effort at getting going with the Twitter machine... I'm going to doing more on Twitter. I'll be sharing blog items, but it will also be a little more personal— for now, I'm feeling free to comment on non-music related items. And I'll probably post some videos and things I don't want to take up blog real estate with, for whatever reason. If that sounds like your cup of tea, well, hit the button:

Like everyone else on Twitter, I'm secretly hoping for a Jon Favreau-like public relations debacle, which leads to a food porn-fueled road journey across the south in my ramshackle sandwich truck, with my John Leguizamo-like sidekick, in which we all learn and grow a little, after which my wildest dream ventures are financed by a former nemesis turned benefactor...