It's been a little while since I've shared some music on here. Actually, it's been a while since I've shared anything, but I hope that you've been following along on the Drumchattr and FivEight sites.
Below is an indoor drumline/percussion ensemble piece I've been working on the past couple of weeks as practice. I've really tried to focus on orchestration, intelligent use of sampling and maxing out the range of dynamics that a marching percussion ensemble can create. I've tried to be as big and as small as possible dynamically with this piece.
It's written with a dark theme in mind, but I mainly wanted to concentrate on the ideas above and not get caught up with anything thematic. It's purely for the sake of the music.
Enjoy, and feel free to leave any thoughts below!
I've been sharing a lot of things lately (not only here, but on Facebook and Twitter as well) about approaching education in a different way. Obviously, these things hit close to home because I try to educate young students in ways that they will are not being taught in the "core" subjects. One of the concepts that I think should be taught more is the idea of innovation. Check out this article for more.
I love that percussion programs are a great place to teach leadership, teamwork, passion, and how to win and lose. Check out this video ya'll...
Originally posted at drumchattr.com
Good professionals find new opportunities. Great professionals create them.
Versions of this motto have been around for awhile. I think it applies directly to percussionists now more than ever. It’s an amazing time to be a musician. There are opportunities available that have never existed before. Want to be a composer? Write something, set up a website and charge some money for your music. Want to teach and share your knowledge? Start a blog and write about anything that you like. Want to perform for anybody in the world? Upload your playing to Youtube. The list goes on and on.
Doing the things above won’t make you a solid living right away. But, they will send a signal to the world (and yourself) that this is something you take seriously, something you’re passionate about, and this art is something that you’re willing to sacrifice for. Going through that process opens you up to opportunities that wouldn’t come your way otherwise. Yes, it takes a long time to begin gaining some traction and turn peoples attention your way. But, by slowly carving out your own little place in the community, you’ve invited new opportunities into your world that wouldn’t have previously shown up for you.
I hear all the time that there are a lack of jobs and a limited amount of ways that percussionists can succeed in the marketplace. Those ideas are not true. Is it difficult to become a truly professional percussionist? Of course. But the individuals who say there are no chances for success are simply wrong. Succeeding requires musicians to put themselves out there, make themselves vulnerable, and risk looking a little foolish to create long term success. If you sit still and wait for somebody to notice how good you are at teaching/playing/composing or whatever, you will be waiting a long time. But, if you are able to put yourself and your art out into the world, take a couple of chances, show some initiative, and risk being told “no,” you increase your chances of success by a huge amount.
Young musicians often have a raging internal debate about what gigs they should be taking. Doing work for free can be a complete waste of time, a great opportunity, a learning experience, a favor to somebody or some combination of all (and some other) of those things. As always, Seth Godin provides some good insight on whether or not you should do that job for free. Check it out here.
Check out the really cool interview below of Pandora's Tim Westergren. A couple main takeaways for me...
1. You never know where life will take you. Get really good at whatever it is you are doing, and keep your eyes open for opportunities. It's hard to figure out what will eventually come your way.
2. Nothing can replace determination and grit. The desire to succeed and never giving up is often mistaken for "talent." Sticking through tough times is the set up to the vast majority of success stories.
Apparently, it's Phil Collins Day. I'm not really sure what exactly this means or how to celebrate it, but I'm going to take a shot at it. Enjoy the video below of an excellent arrangement of Phil's work. Happy Phil Collins Day!
Originally posted at Drumchattr.com.
I’m a percussionist who was trained in the concert world. I spent a lot of time at universities learning about orchestral and jazz music. Lots of the book Stick Control on concert snare drum. Lots of excerpts. Lots of solo marimba. Lots of jazz vibraphone playing.
But now I make my living in the marching world. The principles are the same. An ensembles notes have to be played together, tone and musicality should be number 1, there should be expression, etc. But marching groups require a slightly different posture and approach than ones that perform in concert halls. Overall, it just feels very different. And, it’s great. I love it.
One thing that I’ve been figuring out as I stumble through the marching activity is the implementation of sampling and other electronics that are frequently used in front ensembles. I didn’t like dealing with all of this at first, but that was only because I didn’t understand it. Now that I’m neck deep in this activity and am really making an effort to become good at designing for and instructing it, I’ve been forced to figure out the electronic universe as it applies directly to percussion performance. The irony is that it’s actually really enjoyable to figure out. Triggering a quality sound sample requires the same approach as playing a measure or so of a concert marimba solo. You have to worry about the tone/sound, rhythmic placement, dynamic and direction of your notes. The only difference is that the sound is coming from a machine and moving through a speaker instead of wood being hit with a mallet. If you haven’t heard this stuff before, check out the video below for a quick example of how sampling is being used in the indoor percussion world. Right in the first minute of the groups music, cell phone rings and other sounds are used appropriately to set up the rest of their work.
This has led me to a couple of questions. First, why hasn’t sampling infiltrated the concert percussion world? And, why wasn’t I exposed to any of this during my college playing? There are unlimited possibilities when you’re triggering sounds during a performance. Concert percussionists, especially in the new music world, are always searching for new sounds and instruments. Picking up a sampler would open a ton of doors to players and composers. Through any sound editing device (Here’s a good one!) you can adjust a sound to whatever it is that you want. Why aren’t pieces being written for this?
The ironic part about this is how tech-savvy concert percussionists typically are. The vast majority of percussionists I know are always worried about the newest iPhone, the newest music writing program update, and so on. Why not worry about how this technology can create some new literature?
I’m sure there have been pieces that include sampling in the concert percussion repertoire. I’m throwing it out to the Drumchattr community to help and tell me what they are. What have I missed?
My final question is this. Why is there such a backlash and so many reservations about including electronics in percussion playing from the concert world? Many of the people I talk to have outright hatred for this inclusion in music. Why? After learning about the mechanics of the inclusion of electronics, I only see positive things that could help the current state of concert percussion music. Adding another layer and more options to the percussion world would only enhance it. It wouldn’t take away from anything that has already been written for, played, and accomplished by any percussionist at any point.
As funny as this video is, there is actually some revealing truth behind it. I'm sure anybody who has played percussion in an orchestra section can relate.
Happy Thursday ya'll!
Previously posted to Drumchattr.com.
A couple of weeks ago, I posted an article on Successful Character Traits. The article spoke about certain character traits that run through many successful freelancing percussionists. I’d like to add one more that I didn’t mention in the previous article.
It seems that almost every nice percussion gig involves some kind of work that most people do not inherently enjoy. I’m currently involved with teaching a handful of indoor percussion ensembles, and today I mucked through the not-so-exciting work of setting a schedule, contacting parents about carpooling, and a few other logistical details for our competition this coming weekend. College instructors have to do year end reports, be organized enough to please department heads (at least when they’re starting out), and a host of other duties that are mostly unrelated to playing or teaching percussion. I’m sure anybody who is reading this article can think of more than a couple gigs where they’re hauling more percussion gear than they would like. This list could go on for a long time, but annoying duties of being a percussionist aren’t the point of this post.
The point is there are going to be responsibilities that come with having a good job that don’t relate directly to percussion. The most successful (and happy) people are the ones who force a smile and get through these tasks whether they want to or not. I’ve noticed that the individuals who do this work day in and day out are the ones who typically move on to or retain nice jobs.
It’s always good to remember that dirty work is better than no work at all.