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Playing music is serious business. I think this is the logical conclusion from the Bobby McFerrin video in yesterday’s post.  McFerrin is showing us idea is that music is a powerful thing.  My thought right now is that music is in fact so powerful, so influential (in physics, emotions, etc), that perhaps we can/should view it as a weapon, rather than the typical perception of music as “entertainment.”  There are a number of ways that the weapon analogy for music is more helpful.

As far as I can tell, entertainment produces the same effect on my mind as a toy.  So, if I’m looking at music as entertainment, pretty soon the whole thing is just a glorified toy.  And nobody takes toys seriously.

BUT MUSIC IS NOT A TOY.  Toys don’t have deep impact on your emotions.  Toys don’t make you think about the world in a fresh way.  Toys don’t give you goose bumps.  On the negative, toys don’t make you feel awkward or intimidated or deeply sad.

No, music is not a toy… it is an art form.  And art, historically, is powerful.  Art affects people for both good and bad.  It can help them, and it can hurt them.  It can encourage them, and it can depress them.  Art can rejuvenate someone, but it can also break them down.  Toys don’t do any of this.

My point in all of this is to make clear that being a musician is something we should take seriously.  We, as musicians, are basically holding a huge and very sharp axe.  We could use it to cut the firewood we need in the winter, or a fireman could use it to chop down the door that has someone trapped in a burning building, or any number of other important and helpful tasks. But a dude recklessly swinging a sharp axe around can also inadvertently cut someone’s finger off.

When I sit down at my instrument I want to use it to help people, which means I have to pay attention and be careful.  I have to take things seriously.  THIS DOES NOT MEAN I DON’T HAVE FUN.  I would rather play my drums than do almost anything else in the world.  And this does not mean that I take MYSELF overly seriously either.  It’s not about me.  A musician playing music has the potential to connect with the audience in a very potent and transformative way.  That connection is what it’s all about.

So have fun… strive to connect with your audience in a way that benefits them… and don’t take yourself too seriously.  But take what you are doing very seriously.  Practice, prepare, focus… TRY HARD.  Remember that you are holding a powerful tool/weapon.

Because playing music is serious business.

I am constantly amazed at music’s power to influence humanity.  Of course, often this influence is not used well, but this post isn’t about that.  Right now I’m interested in simply acknowledging the presence of power and influence in music.

This acknowledgment is such an important thing for musicians. The public can just sit back and enjoy the show, but we as musicians MUST know what it is that we are wielding.

Exhibit A:

HT: Aaron Ankrum

Here’s a great follow-up to yesterday’s post about my personal cymbal rig.  This is Ed Clift talking at length about Paiste’s products and their approach to cymbal making.

His rig is… well, pretty serious.  I mean, obviously it’s over the top.  He works for Paiste as a sales representative, not as a player, though the guy can play.  So I think he gets a pass on maybe having too many cymbals.  Ha.

Anyway, let the gear geek fest continue…

I really enjoy the music of Sigur Ros. I also really enjoy interviews with creative artists like Sigur Ros. So, one might think I’d really enjoy this interview… which, in reality, totally sucks.

Thanks for being too cool for school, guys. It really made me respect you more.

Many many thanks to all the guys who came to this past Saturday’s clinic.  I had a ton of fun and the event felt like a success.  For those of you who couldn’t make it, here’s what we did…

I started out our time together by stating a recent revelation I’ve had about music and it’s importance.  The revelation is this: music is NOT important.  Rather, the connection between human beings that music makes possible, and the emotional influence that music has… these are the things that are important.  In other words, it’s not the music you make that matters, but the RESULTS of that music.  I’ll write a full blog post on this soon.

After that short introduction, everybody grabbed donuts and coffee and we spent the next 30 minutes or so just wandering around the room checking out the killer gear that was there.  Keith Anderson from Risen Drums and Eddie Clift from Paiste Cymbals had a lot of great equipment, and though things got a little loud, everybody was able to try out the stuff first-hand.  I had three kits there: the Glo Kit, the blue sparkles, and the new Mahogany studio kit.  Eddie brought more than a dozen cymbals, including some of the Twenty Series, the new Twenty Masters rides, the reissue 602 set, and a few Dark Energy models.  Best of all, Eddie showed up with a Spirit of 2002 Paiste snare, which is about as rare as any snare drum you can think of.  It was a major geek fest, but I for one really enjoyed it.

One of the reasons I had so much gear there was to give the guys a chance to compare and contrast a bunch of equipment that all sounds “good,” but not all the same.  This is a common misunderstanding for musicians… that something can sound “good” but still not be a good fit for a song.  Again, watch for a full post on this topic in the coming weeks.

The rest of the time was spent with some extensive Q&A.  I didn’t intend to take that much time for questions, but the guys were bringing up great topics and there was a lot of dialogue.  I really enjoyed that part and plan on making a long Q&A time a staple for future gatherings.  We discussed playing to the essence of the song, playing with/without drum shields, how to build a good monitor mix, the benefits of playing to a click, and how to respond to the unique audio environments that churches often bring to the table.

So it was great.  I really enjoyed myself, and I’m pumped to plan another one for next year.  In fact, I’m thinking about making more of a day out it, and maybe inviting some friends of mine to give presentations of their own and stuff like that.  This is totally going to be an annual event, so I’ll nail down a Saturday morning in March 2012 and everybody needs to be there!

I hope to see many of you readers in the morning at the the clinic.

In other news, I can’t wait to see this…

A couple reminders and clarifications for Saturday, detail-wise…
– Starts at 10am, at my church.  There will be coffee/donuts.
– Go in the door with the huge awning over it and straight ahead to the “Ministry Center.” This is a different room than last year’s event.
– The Mono prototypes I was hoping to have there aren’t available for a few weeks yet, but Keith at RD donated an RD snare case for a give-away.  My man Ed Clift from Paiste will also be there, and I have confirmation that he’ll be bringing a bunch of the new 2011 models.

I’m super pumped to hang with everybody.  I hope you all can make it!  Again, please feel free to invite anyone/everyone you think would enjoy it.

Conan gives the tune the treatment it deserves.

HT: Lukas

Well, I have a cold right now and it sucks a lot. Tons of congestion and a cough that won’t leave me alone. So no Friday Mews yesterday.

However, here’s one bit of news that deserves acknowledgment. This article about Phil Collins just makes NO SENSE to me. What the heck? In my world Phil Collins was/is a great musician… solid and tasty drummer, fantastic songwriter, and a compelling vocalist.

In other news, Noel Gallagher is a complete idiot.

Holy high ride cymbal, Batman…


I’ve been digging this band lately, and definitely the drummer John Stanier.  He’s got a super solid feel and tons of patience for the long looping moments of their music.  And good grief, that ride cymbal height… so funny and so awesome.

Also, the drum entrance is a great example of the whole concept of rhythmic orientation, as everyone assumes he’s playing quarter notes, but then after the full groove enters you realize he was playing upbeats the whole time.  I was listening to the Dogs Of Peace record with some friends the other day and the same thing happens on the title track from that album, except it’s the kick drum that you think is on quarters but is really on the upbeats.

Rhythmic orientation is also the issue behind much of the confusion on Bonham’s intro fill on Rock And Roll, and as I mentioned last week, is used heavily by Thom Yorke.

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