Theory, Musings, & Blathering

2015: Update, Reboot, or Dump

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Yes, this joint has been a mess for a good long while. The reasons are bountiful, and they range from “good” to mostly “poor”. A complete revamp has been in the cards for years, and I want 2015 to be the successful restart, but I make no promises. So, for now, I will continue to at least post others’ videos as proof of life for the 2 people in Uzbekistan who continue to check in on this thing with decreasing interest and regularity.

When I first created DD and published content to a very modest HTML website back in the mid 1990s, there were not many sites like it. I’m not claiming it was good, just uncommon. Embedded videos were nonexistent, and my handful of poor-quality WAVs and MP3s was fairly unique. What I had was CHARTS. The early ones were literally drawn in Paint Shop Pro. Then I got Cakewalk! Getting my hands on Finale in 2002 and Photoshop soon thereafter changed everything. Lots of charts and mini-lessons were made.

“That’s great that you’re yammering on about your amazing charts. Where the **** are they?”

I neglected this site for quite a stretch while I was in school because I was busy… well, drumming all the time. When I finally came back to it, HTML and Flash websites were DEAD. I breathed what life I could into it, and then I threw up a quick WordPress site as a placeholder while I developed new content and converted old content. The longer it took, the more buried I felt by the tech and talent surrounding me in the virtual marketplace. All the while, YouTube both improved and ruined everything. Technology got so cheap and easy to use that now everyone who even casually picks up a pair of drumsticks posts high-definition videos with studio-quality sound. On top of that, everyone sharing all these over-the-moon videos has led to the education and proliferation of MONSTER drummers. Crazy chops are now as ubiquitous as HD. Just in the past handful of years came this onslaught of “djent”, and now everyone’s playing along to Periphery and Animals As Leaders as if they were Syncopation. So, my relaunch isn’t just a website redesign, it’s become an onerous reason to invest in equipment and get really good (which I spent 5 years and a fortune doing at Berklee).

This is how 2015 begins for The Drummer’s Dominion. Something will happen with this site this year. When? As soon as I figure out how to do more with less. In the meantime, let’s go play some drooms for the fun and the art, not for views and likes and shares.

Don Pardo, the Voice of ‘Saturday Night Live,’ Dies at 96

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“Don Pardo, the Voice of ‘Saturday Night Live,’ Dies at 96”

NPR Talks Syncopation

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NPR Music

Anatomy Of A Dance Hit: Why We Love To Boogie With Pharrell

 

Jojo Mayer: Exploring the distance between 0 and 1

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An inside look as a session musician

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Reflections on Veterans Day

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In honor of Veterans Day, an article on military bands:

“Music, Culture, and Society (Or Why You Shouldn’t Cut Military Bands)”

Psychology Today author Kimberly Sena Moore writes, “The intersection of music and military service has a rich history.” Our ilk were especially necessary: “Drummers were also involved, using their beats to help companies march in time for many hours and for long days.”

Moore’s article is in response to a Washington Post article by Walter Pincus titled “Vast number of military bands may not be music to Gates’s ears”. It should come as no surprise in a time of necessary cost-cutting that many who look at limiting the dollars going to the military-industrial complex look first to seemingly unnecessary, ancillary enclaves like military bands. It’s not so different than middle and high schools across the country. Music programs seem to have a permanent spot in queue for the budget guillotine.

dci002

The 2000 USMC D&B bass line @ DCI

Both authors make valid points. Pincus’ article is certainly logical from a cost analysis perspective. (Even I didn’t know there were so many military bands.) Moore’s article is more…uh, psychological, obviously. The last thing I want to do is launch a political screed about so-called “fiscal responsibility” on a drumming blog, so rather than get into the particulars of economics and government spending I’ll just relate my personal experience in this specific area.

I spent four years in the Marine Corps: about 2.5 in the infantry, the remainder in the Commandant’s Own Marine Drum & Bugle Corps. This was in a period of comparatively little conflict in which the US was involved: 1997 to mid-2001.
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"Wash Riding"? Really?

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I've got your wash riding right here!

I've got your wash riding right here!

What the hell is this new “wash riding” craze? It seems to be the new buzzword in the drum mags and on the interwebs. Sabian even has a whole website dedicated to it. Whether they’re behind this marketing marvel or just perpetuating it I haven’t a clue. Either way, they define it as “A style of drumming where the driving beat traditionally played on a hi-hat or ride cymbal is now played in an open crashing style, creating a penetrating ‘wash’ or roar of cymbal sound.”

Oh, you mean loud?

Why are we treating this like it’s something new and non-traditional? I have nothing against the act of “wash riding”; I just think it’s stupid to make a fad of it and make it seem like an all-or-nothing stylistic decision. Yo, I only wash ride! Only old dudes play ride cymbals with the tip of their stick! Unless I don’t know crap about playing drums, I was under the apparently mistaken impression that technique and nuance—a couple concepts of minor importance—would dictate how to hit a cymbal. No, not in a jazz nazi “I’m going to devote the next twelve months to practicing only how to make my K Constantinople speak in forty-seven distinct sounds, man” kind of way. I mean, hit the cymbal appropriately for the context. You know, play for the song?

In the November 2010 issue of DRUM!, in the “P.O.V.” feature, a question is posed: “Is Wash Riding or Ping Riding more effective for the kind of music you play?” [Holy hell, don’t make me write another post if “ping riding” is the next forced entry into the drumming lexicon!] This at least frames it as a stylistic decision, and a perfectly appropriate answer is offered by Tommy Clufetos:

As always the music dictates which drums I hit and when. So one is not more effective than the other in the animalistic outrage rock and roll bands I play in—it’s when one is called for more than the other. So use your ears and let the dynamics of the music be your guide.

No shit? But… I ask again: Why give credence to this?!

Ever since the first percussionist to accidentally smack a cymbal with the shoulder of his stick or spank a half-open hi-hat, the collective drumming hive-mind has known how to increase volume and sustain. So why is this only now something “the kids” are doing? It’s not! Some dingbat YouTube baboon just came up with a name for it.

I don’t get it.

In the spirit of this nonsense, I pose the following questions:

  • Are sticks or brushes more effective for the kind of music you play?
  • Do you prefer buzz rolls or double stroke rolls?
  • Do you prefer rim shots or hitting the snare with the tip of the stick?

See? Stupid.

[I feel better now.]

More Reasons to Love Matt Cameron

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Matt Cameron
In the November 2010 issue of Modern Drummer is an article by Patrick Berkery titled “11 Reasons to Love Matt Cameron”. It’s hard to choose only 11 songs from Matt’s catalog, and Berkery offers a wide sampling. “Jesus Christ Pose” and “Spoonman” are foregone conclusions, and I’m happy to see “Let Me Drown” on the list, as that’s an oft-overlooked Soundgarden tune and one of my favorites. I don’t disagree with any of his selections, but I would like to offer a few of my own favorite tracks that didn’t make his cut.

  • Soundgarden, Badmotorfinger: “Slaves and Bulldozers”

    This is one of my favorite Matt Cameron groove tunes. I love the cymbal placement, the dynamics, the fills. Great stuff.

  • Soundgarden, Badmotorfinger: “Searching with my Good Eye Closed”

    I played along to a lot of Soundgarden when I first started drumming, and the groove and the fills on this one always gave me a hard time for some reason. It’s gotta be the feel, man!

  • Soundgarden, Superunknown: “Mailman”

    The slow, chugging groove on this one is classic Matt. The space occupied and the space left is so perfect. This is another great example of his somewhat atypical placement of hi-hat opening and crash cymbals. And I love how he smooths out the mixed meter.

  • Soundgarden, Superunknown: “Head Down”

    This isn’t my favorite Soundgarden song, but it’s practically a drum feature throughout, so its placement here is obligatory.

  • Soundgarden, Superunknown: “Like Suicide”

    Another great drum feature. Matt does some dynamic tom work, then busts into a crushing groove with killer fills sprinkled in.

  • Soundgarden, Down on the Upside: “Zero Chance”

    I like this one for many of the same reasons as “Mailman”. It’s another awesome, chugging groove. I love Matt’s placement of hi-hat openings and cymbal crashes, and his simple “4-e-&” fills on the snare.

  • Temple of the Dog, S/T: “Your Savior”

    Matt gets to play a solo groove in the beginning that’s just slammin’ in the pocket. He whips out some great fills at the end, too.

Jeez, I wish Soundgarden would hurry up and record that reunion album already…!

The Origin of Break Beats

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A very interesting history of the sampling of the drum break from The Winstons’ “Amen, Brother”:

FZ on Crossfire

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Zappa on CNN 1986, tellin’ it to The Man. And that turd Robert Novak…

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