Jazz, Swing, Rehearsing

Since the last update I’ve been quite busy. I’ve been finding my feet again in terms of writing and referencing correctly in APA. One of the tasks set was to review a journal article, and I found a great one that I thought would help with my studies:

Butterfield, W, M (2010) Butterfield, Race and Rhythm: The Social Component of the Swing Groove. Jazz Perspectives, 4(3),301-335.

An interesting read, and gave me a good few things to think about. The article aimed to analyse the correlation between the swing groove and race, and it also broke down the actual mechanics of the swing groove. Very interesting and worth reading, but it still leaves the question ‘What is Swing?’ wide open.

I also looked at the performance aspect of Joshua Redman’s ‘Jazz Crimes’ within a compositional context. I managed to pull most of the chords off the internet, which seem ok, work some out and notate a chord sheet for the two main vamps. It’s a great song with a lot of chromatic phrases within the chord changes, melody and improvisational sections. The track itself is very groovy from the drums, whilst still keeping that loose jazz feel within the solo / breakdown section. Below is the transcription I pulled together and worked out:

Other than that, I’ve been away rehearsing and also going through ideas with Bryan during my instrumental lessons. One thing I’m now starting to consciously think about and develop is my ability to actually think about ‘points’ within a piece of music, and use them as a reference for keeping time and consistency within my playing. That, and my actual technique are things I’d never really thought about before I started having instrumental lessons again. As a musician when listening to a piece of music that I want to play, I analyse what is actually going on and think about what tools I need to use in order for me to play that piece. I feel that now, I’m trying to extend that ‘toolbox’ and arsenal of techniques to improve my playing. I can see that the way I think about music is changing, and this seems to be helping my playing a lot. All I can do really is keep heading in that direction, and I see no reason why I wouldn’t be a better musician at the end of it.

Lesson Two

Yesterday was my second drum lesson with Bryan, and I can feel my playing improving. We touched upon the ideas from the previous week and also focussed on some new exercises to work on my stick technique and independence. Below are a few examples of ideas that we were working on. I didn’t have much trouble playing those ideas straight off, but the focus was on applying correct technique and stick control throughout.

There were many variations of the examples, moving accents, changing bass drum patterns etc. The final bar is a groove we worked on, with the hi hat accents creating a bossa feel.

For the research methods module this week, we had a task of using an archive and posting our experiences. I used JSTOR which is an academic resource, containing journals and articles. You can read my thoughts on JSTOR in the Word document here: JSTOR.

Other than that, I’ve been trying to recover from a cold. Currently listening to Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers – “Moaning”, Art Blakey & Theolonious Monk and Miles Davis – “Kind Of Blue”.

Latest Ideas

So I’ve been keeping up with the practice, and looking at some other possible recital songs. Hopefully I can start and get some of these ideas set down and begin writing music, lead sheets etc. Here are some that I’ve been listening to:

George Duke – “It’s On” (Java Jazz Fest 2010) – A great funky tune with Ronald Bruner Jr in the drum seat on this version. I like this version, as it has a lot of groove and feel, but they all let rip as the song progresses, especially the drums.

Alan Pasqua – “Proto Cosmos” – This is a bit of a fusion standard, and I’ve looked through many different versions. Some of the more well known versions can be found with the likes of Greg Howe and Allan Holdsworth playing guitar. The version I’ve picked here is by a group named ‘Mr DanZ’. Drummers Dennis Chambers and Tony Williams do versions of this song and the drums really seem to drive; Mainly due to the open Hi-Hats on each beat. This version I have picked has more of a laid back groove, and there are other versions like it too floating around.

Steely Dan “Aja” – Steve Gadd at his best.

Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers – Moanin’ – Great drumming, great feel, great song. I’ve discovered a lot more Jazz recently. Going through a bit of a Miles Davis phase at the moment which is great! I would love to get something like this into a recital set.

Trying to narrow it down and make selections is a lot harder than I thought. I think I have enough song ideas in the bag now,  so I just need to be a little more decisive. Having said that, it is near impossible now for me to listen to some new music without thinking ‘..I wonder if this would be fun to play’. Ah well. I guess I’ll just pick one at a time and hopefully at the end of it I’ll have a set.

Rehearsing

Today I’ve spent a lot of time working on some of the ideas and techniques shown to me by Bryan, and already I can hear a lot more consistency in my strokes. It hasn’t been a case of scrapping what I already know and starting again, but it has been a case of taking what I already know and enhancing that. I’m self taught on drums for the most of it. I have had lessons here and there which have always helped, but I got to university level the same way that a lot of other drummers and musicians have; picking up the sticks, bashing some drums, hoping for the best and learning along the way. So as you can imagine I was a little worried when we discussed technique, thinking that I may need to go back to square one. But this hasn’t been the case.  So I’ve been trying a few different things technique wise on the pads (see below) and playing along to a lot of music, but most importantly, just having fun with it.

First Lesson

Yesterday was my first lesson with my new drum tutor Bryan. It was straight to business- spent some time addressing my technique, running some exercises, grooves and just having some general drum talk. It felt great to be taught by another drummer and I really picked up a lot just from that first lesson. I’ve come away with plenty of things to practice, and I’m looking forward to the next lesson. Hopefully the motorway won’t be so bad on the way back next time… 2 ½ hours to get from Manchester to Chester! As we progress throughout the year I’m sure I’ll be able to see the difference in my playing, approach to drumming and music in general.

Also here is a list of songs I came up with, which consist of possible recital ideas and just some general drumming influences:

I’m hoping to throw some technical songs in for a challenge and fun, but I’d also like to focus on some groove orientated tracks. It’s not about the amount of notes that are played, It’s about how they are played I guess. All in all, a busy couple of days really, with work, lessons and recitals. Don’t think I’d have it any other way though!

Songs and more Songs

Listening to more music, editing the list. Hoping to have a few solid ideas down for Monday. The main artists/ bands that are floating around at the moment include: Zenith Patrol (Thomas Pridgen), Mahavishnu Orchestra / Billy Cobham, Frank Zappa (Various),  Dennis Chambers, Joshua Redman Band (Brian Blade), Tower Of Power (David Garibaldi) and the other regulars- Gadd, Colaiuta, Weckl, Bozzio etc. I didn’t appreciate how hard it would be to focus and really narrow it down to a few songs which will display a good few drum techniques. I also want to branch out, having a look at some new styles; especially Jazz. I’ll see my new drum tutor on Tuesday, so I’ll pull both of our ideas together to try and work out the best course of action. On a separate note, one thing I do know..I’d love to give Zappa’s ‘The Black Page 2 Drum Solo’ a good go, but that might have to wait for the second or last recital. Having seen the music (see below) and listened to it a good few times, I don’t think it’s going to be a 5 minute job…

A Few Thoughts

Ended the day as I began, only this time, listening to Frank Zappa. Listened to some rediculously difficult songs, and some rediculously funny ones too. Probably not the best thing before bed. I’ve listened to a lot of music today in the search for recital material and found myself asking the same questions; ‘what is tough enough to play’, ‘what is right / wrong’. I don’t know the answer, but the one I’ve penciled in for the moment is ‘a song, somewhere between what is academically expected and fun to play’. I have no doubt this will change or be ammended, but for now it gives me a path to work along.

Also.. just when you thought you’ve encountered most types of music, the internet will then throw something like this out there. Whilst searching around for some Zappa, I came across this Jazz-Metal band called ‘Panzerballet’. Here is a track by them called ‘Jadoo’.

The Start

So the purpose of this blog is to merely display my research and document my ideas as I progress throughout post graduate study. Hopefully by the time I finish, I’ll have a collection of various bits and pieces and more importantly, a map depicting how I got from A to B, in a musical context. The main area of study will be focussed on performance, research and I’ll also be looking at approaches to learning.

Performance wise? I’ll begin at looking at some possible pieces for drum kit. I’ve no doubt there will be some notation, recordings etc floating around as I go and I’ll upload what I can to try best to show my ‘train of thought’.

Anyway! That’s all I really wanted to say before I start this, so here it goes!