Wednesday, April 12, 2023

It's about records, it's about records, it's about records

I'm noticing— online, and to a lesser degree with some students— a lot of people approaching the drums mainly in terms of drumming media. Books and videos, and the drumming concerns they promote, are the main things they think about. 

Promoting that is a deliberate project with YouTubers. And people are comfortable with it, and bring that attitude to, for example, John Riley's excellent book, The Art of Bop Drumming; the book is 100% of their experience of jazz, and they make a doctrine out of it. There are other examples, I don't feel like thinking about it to list them.  

Think of that manufactured laundry list of drumming concerns, and then put on a record, and listen to the whole thing:

That is what we're doing, that is the musical act, that is natural motivation.

The list of concerns just vanishes. You can't listen to that and be thinking what's his finger technique? Would that have been better if he played open handed? Was that a herta? Was he feathering the bass drum? The categories of things the Joe Blow YouTuber advertised are totally, obviously, made up and irrelevant.  

That's what records are all about, forming an idea of what music is, what kind of musician we want to be, how we want to play the drums. There's actual joy, love, and art in it, which are ultimately the only things that can sustain you for decades of being a musician. 

Now my Generation X self also believes that actual hard media are important— putting on a record, CD, or tape, and running it over and over— because changing the record takes some effort, and because you've been drawn into the world of the album. No shuffling, no skipping. You have the cover art sitting around the house, you don't have to go through an interface to read the liner notes and credits. It's tangible and immediate and it's part of your life. 

The false abundance of the digital age has to go. You're one human, you cannot process infinite free music. 

What you do is: be with one thing, now. And keep doing that. Pay the $4-18 for the record, pay it respect and form an attachment to it. That guides your progress as a musician, and is the foundation of an identity.  


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Ed Pierce said...

Well put! And that album by Elvin is so wonderful (and a great illustration of your point); I first bought in on cassette in high school (probably right after it got reissued by Blue Note).

Jon McCaslin said...