It’s a common thing for artists to change in terms of music composition, genre and the general direction of what they were doing, this happens to bands as well as solo artists.

The music we make is a reflection of who we are as persons, so it’s not a surprise to see that music changes with us, as we evolve and the years pass, the things we make change as well.

There are some great examples to have a good idea of when or how this can happen, one great example is the strange but game changing album “Kid A” from Radiohead.

Radiohead’s Kid A

To start with the 2000s, in October, the great english rock band Radiohead, made its way into the history books when “Ok Computer” was released. It was their third album and it solidified the band as one of the greatest rock bands in the 21st century.

However, after that great success, the band decided to work on something a lot different, which for many critics and listeners, was going to be a commercial suicide. It was an experimental album with lots and lots of electronic

In an interview with Thom York with Rolling Stone in 2000, he talked a bit about the album.

There isn’t a straight rock beat anywhere on Kid A. Do you still think of Radiohead as a rock band?
There’s a lot of things about rock that are still valid, almost shamanic things: delving into drugs for creative reasons, not lifestyle reasons; music as a lifetime commitment. If that’s what someone means by rock, great. But I find it difficult to think of the path we’ve chosen as “rock music”. Kid A is like getting a massive eraser out and starting again.

Radiohead is a good example of not getteing too attached to a music genre, they let themselves explore music however they may feel like it, even if it feels like “starting again”, just like Thom says.

Miley Cyrus’ Plastic Hearts

The latest album by Miley Cyrus has been a bit divisive among fans and critics but not because it’s bad, but because it’s different. The pop star turned pop rocker has been teasing this shift of personality and music genre for some time now, covering classic rock songs and country comedic stories in live shows.

The album not only shows us that there is always some hidden potential in the artists that we are used to listening, and whether they decide or not to experiment with it is up to them, but who would have thought that the Disney celebrity Miley Cyrus would rock alongside the legendary Joan Jett in pop rock album.

Arctic Monkeys’ Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino

This is an album that came after another incredible success by the Arctic Monkeys which was AM, it blew everyone away with the most polished album by the band and it’s considered one of the best Rock albums of the 2010s.

It came as a surprise when the band decided to come up with such a departure from their last album with more piano focused songs and less rock influenced. Some of the influences include: Ennio Morricone, Nino Ferrer and Evelyn “Champagne” King.

David Bowie’s Blackstar

Yes, a lot has been said about David Bowie, but it’s hard not to recognize his achivements of reasons, one of them is the fact that despite changing directions in music genres again and again, Bowie managed to keep its audience engaged, and to be able to keep this up until “Blackstar” which was his last album, is just an honorable mention that cannot be ignored.

The Public Opinion

One of the issues with getting a certain status in the music industry is that the people who listen, begin to expect something specific from the artists, however, music evolves and some people and even critics fail to accept that fact.

It’s interesting to see how much expectations matter to an artist, and that is one of the musicians dilemma, how much should they give the people what they want and how much should they explore new grounds. However some don’t even care and just release the music they want.

As listeners we should be excited for whatever music comes our way, in the end, it would be boring to always get what we expect right?

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Among some of the greatest drummers of all time is the great Bill Bruford, who mostly made his name known due to his work in the progressive rock world, playing with some of the most important bands of the genre such as Yes, King Crimson and Genesis.

However Bill’s beginning as a drummer was not playing rock, it was as a jazz drummer. He took some lessons from Lou Pocock and after that went on to pursue this new movement which was called “Art Rock”.

In an interview, when asked about his jazz influence during the time he played with Yes, he said:

I knew no other way to play the drums; there wasn’t a choice here. I had no experience of hitting a drum any harder; I had no experience of what it might be like to be a Texan rhythm & blues drummer, so we are all just a mixture of whatever had been on our record players. And we loved it all, and I loved it all, and I pushed together everything I thought was of interest, and I didn’t realize it had to go a particular way; everything felt completely open. I felt I could do anything I wanted, really, on drums.

Even though he made Yes and King Crimson shine through his skill as a drummer, Bill never felt like staying with a band, in a way, he always wanted to pursue new different things, and so he did by playing with many different bands, until he learned enough to pursue his own thing.

After playing with King Crimson in the 80s, Bruford finally felt like forming his own band called Earthworks, which was one of the best jazz bands in 1987.

Retirement and Studies

After many years of playing with many bands, collaborating with many artists and forming his own succesful band, the famous drummer took a different approach towards music and creativity.

In 2009 Bill Bruford retired from performing and recording in order to focus on investigations regarding creativity and psychology. He got his PhD in 2016 and now focuses on writing books, articles and giving lectures at various universities.

It all started with Bruford taking a step back from the performer side of things and actually thinking about the creative process and how it works.

Everything changed to some degree or another in my 41 years, including a love of music-making that diminished very gradually over time. I’m not sure my conceptualization of groove sees it as something I possess so much as something I create and share with others. I am thus unable to assign it an “identity”. However, the performer might choose to construct an identity which he or she quickly learns to sublimate or project as the music situation demands.

When asked about playing the drums, even if it is just for fun, he said:

Walking from my desk to the kitchen I have to walk past a drum kit on one side and a piano on the other. They look at me rather balefully, I think: “Not even a C major 7th today, guvnor?” says the piano. “Go on; just a couple of ratamacues for old times’ sake,” hum the drums. Occasionally I accede, and they seem pleased, but my heart is not in it. My interests lie elsewhere now and our relationship has cooled. I had ardour aplenty for the first thirty years, somewhat less for the next ten, until the fire smouldered to embers and went out. It all seems perfectly natural to me.

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If there is a part of music that remains to be extremely important in music whether it is classical, rock, or electronic music, it’s percussion. There are many forms it can take, ranging from cymbals, kettledrums, to tamborines.

Percussion is the heartbeat of music. In addition to providing rhythm to music and keeping time, many percussion instruments also produce tones, pitches, and melodic sounds.

Catherine King,

In the first stages of music in history, the rhythm and percussion was far more important than the melody, in many ways because percussion instruments were easier to make and play in that context, and also, it managed to reflect the nature of the time.

War Drums

Archibald Willard, Spirit of 76.

Percussion was also a very powerful instrument in war times, as many musicians rode into battle to play their instruments in order to increase morale and intimidate the other side. The oldest record of this happening was from 684 BC in China, during the war between Qi and Lu.

After this, the whole world slowly began to adopt this method to boost the emotional strength of the troops and let go of fear.

Drums and percussion in general began to grow in popularity and it also got a place in martial arts, as a way to make physical work more efficient. In a way percussion instruments move our bodies like no other. From war, these instruments later got another purpose, percussion instruments became a very popular part of music, eventually becoming the popular drumset that jazz and rock needs.

Modern Percussion

The modern drummer has one of the most important roles in a band, because it’s not just about rhythm, it’s about the dynamic of the music and its melody. With the help of the bass, the drummer offers the base and the whole basic structure of the song, while also giving the needed cues to change from each section of the song.

There is also a feel of completeness once the drums kick in in the song. For example imagine a rock band without a drummer, any big rock anthem without drums lacks energy and direction, which is why it’s so essential.

In an interview with Jazz drummer, Kenny Washington, he talks about melodic drumming and says:

You know, if a good drummer is playing time he’s still thinking of the sound. He’s not just thinking of the rhythm, he’s thinking about the sound, how he approaches the ride cymbal and the dynamic level. At least all the guys I know, the guys that can really play, they just can’t help themselves when it comes to playing music.

He also talked about the importance of the drummer in a band by saying that:

Well, the thing about it is…if the drummer doesn’t know everything about the piece, then the band doesn’t have a chance. The band is finished before they even begin. It’s just as important for the drummer to know the melodies and what’s happening as anybody else. I say this all the time: A musical drummer is like a traffic cop on a busy street in Manhattan on Friday, rush hour at 5 o’clock at 42nd Street and Broadway. That’s what a drummer does, you know. A drummer can make a not-so-good arrangement into something much more than what it really is by his musical imagination and how he thinks about music and harmony.

Electronic music still manages to give the same kind of energy as drums did thousands of years ago, and being able to manipulate sound in ways everyone would only dream of before, the body reacts to it in the form of dancing as if it were just a natural reaction which is what happens at edm festivals and parties. Someone who works with electronic music, is in a way a percussionist, as he not only makes the rhythm and beats, but he also manipulates the sound which originally comes from bongos, timbales, congas and so on.

It’s interesting to see the journey of percussion instruments through time and how essential they are in most compositions today, while there is so much more to say about percussion instruments, it’s good to have an idea of the history behind them and the roles they cover today.

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