I am just finishing up some programming for church tomorrow morning. I play every week at New Hope Church in New Hope, MN… and last year we started incorporating loops and sequences into the services. They put me in charge of that stuff, although I knew nothing about it when I started. We use Reason and Ableton Live software, and I’ve just been learning as I go… so please let me know if you have any helpful tips or anything.

I’m glad to have gotten the chance to familiarize myself with software like Reason and Ableton. Programming is becoming more and more of a staple in modern music (especially pop/rock). At this point, it’s almost a necessity that any professional player be competent at not only playing with, but also programming your own loops/sequences.

UPDATE: As of 2012 it absolutely IS a necessity that pop/rock players be familiar with at least one programming or DAW software platform.

Anyway… the aim of this post is to point out the MUSICALITY of programming. Even though programmers don’t PERFORM their music in the physical sense, there is still a deep well of art to be appreciated in the world of drum synthesis and software. In fact, I’ve noticed an interesting influence that electronic and programmed percussion has had on the drumset world. Programmers, unlike actual players, don’t have any physical limitation to their musical ideas. When they think of something cool to “play”… they just draw it out with their computer’s mouse and set the tempo wherever they want it. Things that would be impossible for any drummer to actually perform are not off limits to programmers. As a result, the ideas they come up with tend to push the envelope in comparison to the ideas that drumset players think of. It’s as if the programmers are able to cross a creative bridge that is un-crossable to physical players. The really cool thing is that, once across the bridge, programmers discover cool ideas that can be “brought back across” to the physical world and adapted to an organic drumset. So now, after a few years of prominent electronic grooves, we find drumset performers using their physical kits to replicate ideas that they have heard in the programming world. Cool stuff.

So, just because programmers don’t PLAY drums doesn’t mean that they don’t have anything to contribute to the world of rhythm. This goes along with my previous post about art being more of a mental game than a physical one. The IDEAS that programmers come up with can be very brilliant, and they are worth listening to.

Here’s a short list of some artists whose programming has influenced my playing in this way: Aphex Twin, Squarepusher, Autechre, Bjork, Boards of Canada, Jon Hopkins, and Cepia