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The man who can balance two eggs, one on top of another, only has an audience until someone comes along who can balance three eggs. It is a compendium of 18 of that drummer's better recorded efforts in notated form, together with some scene-setting, and some explanation of how and why he arrived at the end product, and if the narrative casts a somewhat jaundiced eye on the reasons drummers play the things they play, the author makes no apologies for that.
For the compulsive practicers amongst my readership, I have included a few exercises that may or may not be related to the music that precedes them in the chapter.
The exercises are really more a series of suggestions that serve as kicking off points to other ideas, and certainly are not to be considered as some sort of law handed down from Moses. Some you will find meaningful, and some meaningless. Should you, dear reader, in absorbing this slim volume, happen to come an inch two closer to understanding music and musicians, or should you tumble across some trick, some knack, or some philosophy that you ould use or, indeed, find anything that will make your day a little easier ra little more humorous, then my efforts shall have been more than mply rewarded.
This sort of music was, however, an attempt to admit more possibilities in pop musicianship than had hitherto surfaced and, as such, was an imaginative place for a drummer to be. Like the various King Crimsons that were to follow, the only rule for the drummer was that there were no rules. Surprise, shock, attack, understate, or overstate, but whatever you do, avoid the twin cardinal sins of being either boring or predictable.
Try all eight in a row. Very simply, King Crimson had its roots in playing and Yes in singing. Of course, both groups did plenty of both, but the percussion in the former was required to be a major color—often a front-line instrument—while in Yes, the drumming was perceived, usually dimly, through a wall of vocal sonorities.
Thad come upon Jamie Muir, who was a stalwart in the London avant-garde scene, and his influence was profound. With him, I came to realize the responsibilities of a musician, and that technical acquisition does not a musician make. It may seem that it was a little late in the day, but this was my first absolutely major drum lesson.
The group was always short of studio material, and partly to fulfill recording commitments, we became adept at hiring mobile trucks and recording live, omitting the applause, and passing these tracks off as studio work. This particular track was recorded at the famous Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, home of the Amsterdam Symphony Orchestra.
We all know the Dutch to be liberal in their attitude to the arts, and there was therefore nothing incongruous about two percussionists from the orchestra, unbeknown to me, attending our midnight concert. Twelve years were to pass before they contacted me to work with their New Percussion Group of Amsterdam playing original works.
The concert was held at the same concert hall on February 25, It was my first heady taste of instrumental music, and I had a very large palette of sounds that I could spread over a very large aural canvas. There was space, not necessarily to fill, but certainly to play with.
King Crimson always possessed a good sense of dramatic poise, of the threat of something about to happen. The accent, which has been put in the bass drum and crash cymbals left and right , moves back one note in each exercise. The main reason I formed a group was to provide a vehicle for my own compositions. The score follows the drum part. Somehow, the middle range tom-toms on an ordinary kit stared back mournfully at me as I sat down to play, and defied me to extract anything startling from them.
But with my flat-mounted RotoToms, they looked as if what they had to say would be riveting! I have always tried to approach new music fresh, with an open mind as to what particular percussive timbres it requires, and then provide them to order as would be common in symphony music. Obviously, this is not always practicable, and in some respects, Iam forced to have a regular drumkit.
But in general, the attitude has been to let the music dictate the percussion instruments rather than vice versa Even though I am ostensibly a drumset player, my thinking is more in keeping with that of a European symphony percussionist. Trying to write a piece of music and bring it to life for other musicians and to elicit their best effort to make the thing work can be arduous, but it isa very useful exercise for drummers. It gives them distance from and objectivity towards their own contributions, and they'll find out all sorts of things about their own musical characters extremely quickly.
This is not for the feint-hearted, but extremely rewarding when it all works. Rocha Vitor Jean. Daniele Fortunato. David Bonin.
Bill Bruford - When in Doubt, Roll sample drum
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Bill Bruford - When in Doubt, Roll