Friday, November 27, 2015

From the zone: Five in seven in six in four

A little Thanksgiving treat shared on Facebook by my friend Steve Pancerev:

Let's walk through this— it's difficult, but not impossible. I see a jazz rhythm there, and a crazy independent part with a double-beamed rhythm, which means the tempo is going to be slow/medium-slow. There are three sounds happening, and we can default to the standard drum set sounds for them:

  • top line = cymbal/right hand
  • black noteheads/middle line = snare drum/left hand
  • bottom line/black noteheads = bass drum. 

You can revoice those however you want, using whatever limbs you want. I always encourage you to move your left hand parts around the drums, either improvising the moves, or using our standard moves which you should have memorized by now.

Obviously the top line is a jazz cymbal rhythm, with quarter notes and 8th note triplets. The black noteheaded rhythm, which is split between the snare drum and bass drum, is sixtuplets— so every other note lines up with a note of a good old familiar 8th note triplet. Looking for familiar landmarks: the first accent in the sixtuplet part lines up with the last note of an 8th note triplet. The last snare drum double in the second beat, and then the doubles and single bass drum note in the third beat all line up with 8th note triplets. Going into the fourth beat, the second note of each double falls on the 8th note triplet. And the first two 8th note triplet partials in beat 2 fall on the second note of doubles. So the lick is mainly doubles with the first note landing on the triplet, and doubles with the second note landing on the triplet. If I had Finale handy while blogging from my mother's house, I could write you a little preparatory study of that. 

The bracketed 5 and 7 notations indicate the phrasing and voicing of the rhythm— we're accenting the sixtuplets every five notes (starting on the second note of the part), and voicing the rhythm between the drums in a seven note pattern— SSBBSSB. So the seven-note pattern (played three times) with the accents every five notes is SSBBSSB / SSBBSSB / SSBBSSB. You'll really want to get the basic coordination and rhythm together before you add that accents.

I've been meaning for years now to post more of Steve's stuff— maybe I'll actually follow through on that in 2016. In the mean time, you can follow him on Facebook. He's already posted one other crazy thing today. 

If you'd like to have your practice materials featured as a From The Zone item, hit the email link in the sidebar and send them in. Crappy photos of semi-legible manuscript is preferred. I just want things you had to write out because they weren't written anywhere else. 

Inverted paradiddle exercises

A page of paradiddle exercises, using the fun and hip RLLR/LRRL inversion. These are written in cut time, and can be played blazingly fast.

You'll notice that the 8th notes are all alternating, except most of the exercises end with a double in one of the hands. You may also want to eliminate that double, which will cause you to play the entire exercise with the stickings reversed on the next time through. You also have the option of adding an accent at the end of each run of 16th notes, or eliminating the accent(s) in the middle of a longer run of 16ths. If you feel like it, you can also substitute the other paradiddle sticking on the 16th notes— either RLRR/LRLL or RRLR/LLRL.

 You can play these fast— a tempo over half note = 100 BPM should be your eventual goal.

Oops, no pdf right now, as I'm away from home for the holiday. You can print it from the jpeg above, though.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Page o' coordination: Latin in 3 — 02

Another page of Latin in 3/4— get the previous one here. You'll notice these are very similar to our 6/8 Latin pages; the use the same bell pattern, but the BD/HH rhythms are slightly different, and they're notated in 3/4, of course. Here we're using the “long” bell pattern, and an offset, 6/8-suggestive bass drum part:

Learn the exercises doing the left hand movesusing this practice loop. Easy.

Get the pdf

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Mario Padilla

Via Matt Chamberlain on Twitter, here's Norteño drummer Mario Padilla. I've been waiting for this one for a long time. If you've ever played the jukebox in a real taqueria, or tuned into working class Spanish-language radio, you know there is some crazy stuff going in Mexican Banda and Norteño music. But it's often so heavily processed, and the drumming is so nuts, you almost think it's somebody going crazy hammering out MIDIed drum sounds from a keyboard. That's what I thought. But it's real, man:

Here's another one:

For awhile, in my ignorance, I was lumping this type of thing in with Metal drumming as something pretty much completely different from the rest of drumming-as-we-know-it. But I'm glad to see here that it's a very good real drummer, and that, wild as it is, it's not actually that different from what we CSD!-types normally do. We'll definitely be seeing more of this.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Transcription: Joey Baron — Cattle Drive

A little transcription of Joey Baron playing in Bill Frisell/Americana mode on Cattle Drive, from Frisell's original music for the Buster Keaton film Go West. It's sort of a beginner's version of the ricky-ticky thing he does on tunes like Pip Squeak. like I've written it in 6/4, but you can just think of it as a waltz. The theme and solo form is 9 bars (of 6/4) long.

Baron uses more sounds than normal on this— including cowbell, woodblock, and an unidentified sheet metal sound— check out the key at the end. Virtually the entire cymbal part is played on the crash cymbal. He generally plays a lot of different articulations— rim shots, buzzes, and a lot of things that are difficult or impossible to transcribe, but here he's pretty straightforward.

Get the pdf

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Wagner in Apocalypse Now

Fascinating piece by Walter Murch, film editor and sound designer on the movie Apocalypse Now, several other Francis Ford Coppola and George Lucas films of the 70s, and a lot of other things. Murch tells about fitting Richard Wagner's Ride Of The Valkyries to the famous “Charlie's Point” scene in Apocalypse. A version conducted by Georg Solti, recorded in 1965, was chosen for the scene, and it was edited with that version. But late in the process the record label denied Coppola permission to use it, and Murch had to scramble to find an acceptable substitute, which turned out to be hugely problematic— none of the 19 available stereo recordings of the piece worked.

Here's the scene:

The entire piece is fascinating, but Murch has some things to say about rhythm that are very interesting:

The greatest conductors and orchestras, and Solti and the Vienna Philharmonic were certainly in that group, are able to shape these minute adjustments to the rhythmic signature so closely that they are perceived as regular but in fact are not, thus enhancing the organic, living and breathing nature of the music itself. The problem with many of the versions of “Valkyries” that I rejected was that they were monotonously rhythmic: A metronomic signature had been decided upon and stuck to, regardless of circumstance. The result was a robotic stagger, a simulation of musical life rather than the real thing. 
This is reflected in our intimate relationship with the rhythms of our own bodies, their heartbeat and breathing. We may think that most of the time our heartbeat is regular, but in fact it is not. It is constantly being micro (and sometimes macro) adjusted on a beat-to-beat basis, responding to neurological feedback between the heart, the brain, and the needs of the body for oxygenated blood. And the same applies to our rate of breathing, which is intimately related to our circulatory system. 
The medical term for a healthy but slightly irregular rhythm is “ectopic,” and it is our largely unconscious awareness of this dynamic pulse which reminds us that we are alive. In cases of medical emergency, that closely monitored feedback between the heart and the needs of the body is often weakened or severed, and a machine-like regularity of heartbeat appears, signaling trouble or impending death. 
Similarly, music that lacks this dynamic, quicksilver pulse is perceived, consciously or not, as lacking an essential spark of life. 
Solti’s conducting of the “Valkyries” was instead a sublime example of what we might call ectopic music—a powerful embodiment of the living, pulsing heart and breath of Wagner’s composition.

After the break we'll have the complete recordings of the different versions discussed in the article, and you can get a feel for what he's talking about yourself:

Friday, November 13, 2015

Laughable myth, or laughable math?

Click here if you
can't enlarge this
So here we have a piece called The 17 Most Laughable Myths Of The Music Industry, by blogger Ari Herstand. It's mostly OK, except for laughable myth number 3, which is about streaming:

3) Streaming Is Bad For Music [to be clear, that's a myth, according to the premise of the piece- tb]
A CD or download sale is treated equally no matter how great the album is. It’s a one time payment never to be earned on again. Contrast that with streaming. If a song is great it will get played over and over again for years and years. Earning MORE than just a single sale ever could. Streaming pays less initially, but much much more in the long run – if the music is good of course.

Laughable myth number 10 is also relevant:

10) Record Sales Matter 

He goes on to say that CD sales are “over”, whatever that means. Since he phrased this as specifically CD sales vs. streaming equation, I want to look at the economics involved, and the style of consumption required for streaming income to replace album sales income. Obviously it's more complex than that, but framing it this way was his idea, not mine.

We'll assume one album purchase per customer; and that a CD has ten songs on it, and they sell for $10 each— the basic reality for independent artists.

First: Hold on, an album purchase is not necessarily a one time payment— there are a number of records of which I've bought multiple copies, either because they got lost or broken, or because I liked it so much I gave it as a gift, or because a new format became available. “If the music is good”, people may well buy multiple copies. But from here on out, we'll assume one CD purchase per release per customer.

Second: Spotify pays around $.007 per play; so to earn our $10 from that customer, we need about 1425 plays, or about 142 plays per track. If they only really like three tracks, they'll have to listen to each track 425 times each. But the author says our compensation will now be amortized over “years and years”; to get our $10 within, say, ten years (while hoping our royalties are indexed to inflation— probably not), the customer will basically have to listen to the album fourteen times a year, every year.

Of course, you have the rest of both of your lives to get 142 complete plays, assuming Spotify still exists, and has not gone to a zero-compensation model. You may never get to 142, meaning you are a net loser for that customer, or you could just as easily get 143 plays from that customer before your death, in which case, cha-ching, streaming has paid off!

Third: Yours is not the only record in the world. Other people need to get paid, too. If an average music fan owns smallish collection of 200 CDs, averaging about 40 minutes long, in order for those artists to get paid, that individual has to listen to over 18,900 hours of music on Spotify— about six hours a day, every day, for eight and a half years. For the new economy to work better than the old one, as advertised, everyone has to do that— this exceptionally committed level of real consumption has to become the norm.

Fourth: We can assume that is an indeterminate number of other people will be streaming our stuff, who never would have bought a CD— they're contributing, too. We can count them as “helping” your committed customers reach their 1425 plays, though in fact they'll still be out there listening even if we don't abandon traditional hard formats. You'll need a lot of them to make up for, say, 500 CDs you won't be selling. The catch is, if you're attracting a whole lot of random listeners, many of them would have gone ahead and bought the CD, so you'll need that many more random listeners to help compensate for all those CDs not purchased. It's not an entirely realistic equation, but it illustrates the core problem, that getting paid places too much of a time burden on your fans, which can't be compensated by random semi-interested listeners.

Fifth: If Spotify becomes the way music is consumed by individuals, everyone, regardless of their commitment, means, and style of consumption, is moved to the same system of just paying nothing, or a very low flat rate, to a streaming service in exchange for unlimited music. The disposable income they were spending on albums is now going someplace else. Maybe they'll spend it on something music-related, maybe not— but now music people have to figure out how to get them to spend it on music again. That's the reality when there are changes in the business, but make no mistake that it is only happening to benefit two or three large, wealthy companies— it's not some impersonal, implacable “the future.” It's just some guys trying to make money by devaluing our end product.

Sixth: About this little barb “if the music is good”— suggesting that if you're not cleaning up in streaming, it must be because your music sucks too badly to deserve compensation: people buy CDs for all kinds of reasons. They liked your other records, they liked it when they previewed it in the store, they're part of your local fan base, they saw you play, liked you, and wanted to support you. Those are all excellent reasons to spend $10-15, and those customers are getting a good value. Probably they don't all listen to your CD 142+ times; very few people listen to anything 142 times. Reducing it to strictly a pay by number of hours listened equation means that all of those people who liked you enough to buy your product now have to put in a whole lot of listening hours for you to get paid. If that doesn't happen to be the way they consume music, we're just sacrificing that income.

Let's end with a lame zinger: The idea that streaming, as it is currently structured, is going to replace hard media purchases for independent artists may be the true laughable myth.

Friday, November 06, 2015

Groove o' the day: Hugh Grundy — Time Of The Season

Time Of The Season, by The Zombies, is still in heavy rotation on classic rock stations around the world— if you work in a warehouse, you hear this 2-3 times a week, as you have for about the last 30 years. They play this stuff to put you in a kind of state of suspended animation, so you don't notice the time passing. If there isn't a conspiracy between business owners and radio stations, there might as well be. Every day blurs into the next, and you stop noticing that with each palette of dog biscuits you ship, your youth is a little more spent, and you're one step closer to the grave...

...NEVERTHELESS! It's a good track, and there's a lot for drummers to learn from this type of thing.

The main drum beat is of that 60s pop mode we could call “studio pop multi-percussion”, “60s studio pop”, whatever you like. It's a composed part, and different than a drummer would normally play, in that there's very little cymbal— there's no ride pattern:

That groove, together with a hand clap and a vocal “ahh” sound, and a lot of reverb, is incredibly auditorily famous:

There's another composed, part-type beat on the B section— what would normally be called the chorus, except it isn't very chorus-like. It's really a B section with a dramatic ending where they say the title of the song. And, whoops, typo alert— both flams should be accented:

On the solos, which are played on the A section opened up, drummer Hugh Grundy plays more normally, with a rhumba-like beat, and improvised fills:

The little triplet lick on the & of 2 is fairly technical; the tom tom hit and cymbal are played with your right hand, and the snare drum with your left.

The track:

Daily best music in the world: Peace Piece

Seems like the perfect time of year for this. I had been away from one of my favorite records in the world, Everybody Digs Bill Evans, for long enough that for a moment I forgot about this beautiful piece of work, Peace Piece:

The transcription in the video is a little goofy— the author has metered Evans's expressive phrasing. Maybe he had a good reason in his own studies for doing that.