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The incredibly kind and talented Jeremy Ylvisaker sat in with RPTA at last Friday’s show at the Turf Club.  Here’s a clip of us playing the Smith’s “Death of a Disco Dancer,” which got pretty out of hand…

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Sorry about the lack of posts lately. I’ve got some great ideas brewing in my “drafts” section on the blog, but I have to do a bunch of editing and what not. So look out.

Um… J/K.

Seriously though, I’m pretty swamped right now. Mostly because I’ve got a double-header this Friday at the Turf Club in St Paul. I’ll be playing first with RP&TA (with the epic Jeremy Ylvisaker joining us on guitar), and then I have the privilege of closing out the night with local legend Adamy Levy’s band The Honeydogs, as their regular drummer is unavailable for some reason. So I’m frantically learning Honeydogs tunes right now, and I’m really looking forward to a shot at filling the shoes of Noah Levy and Peter Anderson.

The show on Friday is a benefit for a local Twin Cities music photographer named Jenn Barnett. It should be a fun night.

So much for my glowing review of the DW 7000 kick pedal. It cracked on me during a gig last weekend. To be fair, the pedal was 6 years old and I stomp the heck out of it, but still… I HATE IT when gear fails on me in the middle of a gig.

Just another reminder to always have back-ups… kick and snare mainly, because everything else either doesn’t REALLY matter or can be fixed with duck tape. For example, when this pedal broke, the top of the foot plate shot forward and punched a hole toward the bottom of the kick head… which I just patched with a bunch of duck tape and forgot about. I’m playing a different gig with it right now and it sounds great. But the pedal – I had to call a friend and get one in the middle of the gig or else we couldn’t have finished.

Moral of the story: Always bring a back-up kick pedal and snare to a gig.  Like I said, anything else that breaks can be fixed with duck tape or just avoided for the rest of the gig.  Kick and snare though… they gotta be there.

I’m a Christian. If you read this blog and you didn’t already know that, now you do.  I’m also a big fan of music, which I’m sure you’re all already aware of.

Noteworthy then, is my friend Jason Gray, who recently wrote a review of Peter Gabriel’s latest record that amazingly encapsulates both spiritual and musical elements, which is a rare.  Well done, Jason.

Well, the seminar this past Saturday was a ton of fun.  Thanks so much to everybody who came.  The attendance was way heavier than I expected, and it made the morning really cool.

I mentioned at the clinic that I would post my notes on the blog so both those who attended and those who couldn’t make it would have the outline of what we talked about.  I’m also including some links to specific blog posts about some of the topics we discussed at the clinic.  Unfortunately I can’t really remember the specifics from the Q&A time, but other than that, here’s what went down…

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1st half: Mental side of things

MAIN THESIS: YOUR MIND IS THE FOUNDATION OF BEING A MUSICIAN
– rudiments only give stick control, but the mind governs your actual message
– speaking analogy:  when you talk, you don’t think about how your lips move in order to pronounce words… the focus is instead on what you want to communicate.

therefore…

IT IS ESSENTIAL TO USE YOUR MIND WHILE PLAYING DRUMS
– Don’t check out mentally and let the drums play themselves
– Actively use your mind to make your playing better – pay attention!

so the issue then becomes…

HOW SHOULD THE MIND BE USED AS YOU PLAY?

1. Make sure you sound good
Hit the drums in the center
Good dynamic blend between cymbals and snare
– Be assertive with your playing… not heavy-handed or loud for loud’s sake, but yet clear and deliberate

2. Serve the song
– Don’t be preoccupied with “drummer things” (like rudiments or transcriptions of famous fills)
– Make decisions on what to play based on what will help the song
– Summary: avoid “Drummer Disease”

3. Know the form
– Make sure you understand exactly where the song is going
– Lead the band through the road map of the song
– Be intentional and strategic… don’t just play whatever you feel in the moment

4. Listen to the rest of the band
– Pay careful attention to what they do and respond accordingly
– Just because you have a plan as a band doesn’t mean you will stick to the plan… sometime things change in the moment due to unforeseen factors and careful/attentive listening will really help in that moment

————————————————

2nd half: Drumming specifics

MY TYPICAL CHURCH RIG
– Dark cymbals are a must… bright cymbals bleed into the vocal mics and are difficult to keep at the appropriate volume level… strips of tape on the underside of bright cymbals can help make them darker.
– Don’t be afraid of tape on the snare and toms also, especially the snare… while it will cut some of the drum’s sustain ( a bummer) it will also cut decibels and help your overall volume. (Try cutting the collar off an old drum head and using that as a snare muffle)
– Be careful to not include too many non-essential elements in your kit (extra cymbals, cowbells, etc)… it will be difficult to resist the urge to play them and you will most likely force the issue and not serve the song.

PLAY TO A CLICK
– It’s very helpful to use a click track during the service, but if nothing else, make sure you can at least play with it during practice sessions… your ability to play with a click is a direct indication of how steady your time feel is.
– While using the click, trust your time feel and use the click as a guide… don’t just rigidly follow each click… learning to play to muted click tracks will help with that (click here to download the 120bpm muted click mp3 that I promised at the clinic… fyi, the link is only good for 7 days or something).
– Ultimate goal is to make the click track “disappear,” and then not panic when that happens.

THINK IN TEXTURES/TIERS REGARDING THE SONG FORM
– Try to strategize specific intensity levels for each section of the song (verse, chorus, etc) and use the various textures on the kit to do this (hats vs ride, sidestick vs rimshot, etc).
– Have a full bird’s eye view of the song form when establishing your intensity levels – i.e. think about how loud and how soft each and every section needs to be before you determine which textures to use.

RELATIONSHIP TO RUDIMENTS
– Rudiments build stick control, which is an important part of being a good player, but the stick control will only really benefit you if it is internalized.
– paradiddle spelling test.

INTERNAL VS EXTERNAL SUBDIVISION
– Thinking about the 16th notes while you only play quarter notes is helpful… this is called “internal subdivision.”
– Actually playing 16th notes instead of just thinking about them is called “external subdivision”
– It’s important to have a filter between your internal and external subdivisions, so that you don’t unconsciously play the notes that you are mentally keeping track of… for example, I often think about 32nd notes, but I rarely play them… summary: internal subdivision is helpful but can lead to inadvertently playing too busy, so guard your external subdivision carefully.
– Creating an “audience-perspective” way of listening to yourself can help with this… which means that you are simply trying to be as aware as possible of how the audience will experience your playing… which will be very different from how you experience your playing because you are internally subdividing and they are not.

PLAYING WITH HOT RODS
– Don’t be afraid of this… just remember that rods are different than sticks, so they have to be used differently, not interchangeably.
– For example, hit rimshots on the toms, which will make them sound more full and round instead of the thin papery tone that rods normally produce on toms… rimshots on the toms with sticks aren’t a good idea, but with rods it will make all the difference.

PRACTICE ENOUGH
– Difficulty is subjective and really just a mirage. The real issue is unfamiliarity.
– You don’t want a groove you plan on playing to intimidate you because it feels unfamiliar, so practice it enough ahead of time that you can easily play everything you plan on playing.
– If there isn’t time to practice something enough to make it familiar, then simplify the idea so that you can play it more easily… it’s better to bring an easy/simple idea to the gig than a difficult one that you could very well stumble on.

Dave Holland, a living legend of the upright bass, was quoted yesterday on Twitter by music journalist Andrew Dubber during a clinic he was giving in Holland.  This was Dubber’s tweet:

Dave Holland on his dislike for click tracks: “Music is not metronomic. Music breathes. Time breathes.”

Holland then clarified in a tweet response to Dubber:

Quote about not using click trks only referred to music that needs a flexibility of feel. I am not against it in general

Important to note here is the blanket use of the term “music” in Holland’s initial quote.  At this point in the multi-genre world of modern music, it’s almost impossible to say anything about “music” generally.  Clarifications such as Holland’s reference to “music that needs flexibility of feel” are necessary more often than not.

In related news, Twitter is getting cooler and cooler.

Ryan Paul & the Ardent will be at the 331 again tomorrow night, so come check that out if you’re free. No cover.

And, interestingly enough, the above flyer Ryan made for the show was named City Pages’ Flyer of the Week this week.  I didn’t know there was such a thing.

Aaron Freer is a great photographer and all around good dude. He shot a bunch of cool stuff at the Jeremy Sanoski Band album release show last month, and he posted some of the pics on A Better Story blog. Check it out if you want.

This dude calls himself “Puncture Kit.”  It’s a pretty gimmicky concept, but he’s playing some cool stuff.  “Busking” is the term for playing on streets in public places and just hoping for tips, and I’ve always thought it would be fun to take a chunk of time and go busking around the country and see what happens.  While a drumset made from a bike might not be the most fun to play, it obviously helps the transportation side of things.

HT: Bill Radintz

Recent music news…

– Rapper Lil Wayne will begin serving his prison sentence on gun charges as soon as he completes his court date, which was canceled a few weeks ago due to an emergency dental procedure (8 root canals!), and then canceled again because of a fire in the courthouse, of all things. Obviously trying to maximize his dwindling time as a free citizen, Wayne shot 9 music videos in 48 hours last weekend.  MTV

– The Black Eyed Peas have now become the first “duo or group” to have three #1 singles off the same record since Wilson Phillips accomplished the same thing 19 years ago.  A UFC match between Carnie Wilson and Fergie is the logical next step if you ask me.  Billboard

– Prince debuted a new tune on Minnesota’s 89.3 The Current last week, giving a nod to the Twin Cities music scene and independent radio.  The tune, “Cause And Effect,” has a good chance of being cooler than the Vikings fight song he recently wrote.   Rolling Stone

– Last week a young girl named Cody landed a youtube viral video jackpot with emotional performance of her love for Disney’s Justin Beiber.  Beiber returned the favor by surprising the girl on the Jimmy Kimmel show.   Billboard

– Coldplay has announced a new record – their second album produced by Brian Eno, which is slated to hit stores by Christmas ’10.  The band is currently on tour in South America, but have already begun work on the record in a brand new London studio (rumored to be a converted church).  MTV

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