Musician

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.

rollingstone.com

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.

pienemmatpurot.com

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.

medium.com

Read More

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, study.com

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.

http://jonmccaslinjazzdrummer.blogspot.com/

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.

http://jonmccaslinjazzdrummer.blogspot.com/

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.

Read More

There aren’t that many people in the world that haven’t hear anything about Elvis Presley, the king of rock n’ roll, and there are a few reasons as to why he became such an important figure in music history, more specifically rock.

Context in America

First of all it’s important to have in mind the context at the time, which was around the 1950s, this was a time when rock n’ roll was barely starting to show up, however it was mostly a genre that came from black musicians. There was something about the blues and jazz that black musicians managed to make it so pure and ful of feeling, and due to the time they did not get enough recognition, but it was still too good to not be noticed.

Artists such as Little Richard, Joe Turner, Ike Turner, Ray Charles and Chuck Berry, were already making rock n’ roll, with the last one having the title of king befor Elvis, still they were marginalised and this type of music wouldn’t get to the mainstream.

A rock fan would say that mainstream music was boring and that the real new music was in the hands of those that were not being recognized, and at that time in a way Elvis felt this.

Elvis Presley

Elvis Presley was born on January 8, 1935, in Tupelo, Mississippi and his first real contact with music was through the church in the form of Gospel where he found a strong connection due to his faith and religious life with his family. It’s funny to think that the “King” had such a humble beginning.

His love for music never stopped from that moment, and it wasn’t long until he got his first guitar at the age of 11. This led him to pursue his biggest and only dream, music.

In a way Elvis became the last step in a musical revolution, the rock n’ roll revolution, in the words of John Lennon “Before Elvis, there was nothing.”

He was able to ignite a spark moving gracefully between several genres of music including blues, country, rockabilly and RnB, which translated into the best form of Rock n’ Roll. Of course Elvis had a golden touch, a magic surrounding him which made all of this possible, and some would say that him being white helped, and yes it was one of the many things he had on his favour, but Elvis was so much more. He was a strange character and at times critiziced because of his “blackness”, others revered, but in the end what mattered the most was the music itself and how he embodied the feeling of the music he performed.

In a way he carried the flag of everything that was being sidelined and ignored, why was feeling and attitude and everything that later made the bases of rock n’ roll.

1957 Interview

Elvis

In an interview back in 1957, at the Pan Pacific Auditorium some of that Elvis personality can be seen through his answers.

Say, why did you change ‘Blue Moon’ all around?

Honey, when I recorded ‘Blue Moon’, I didn’t know the words to it. When I got to the bridge, I just started yelling.

How do you feel when the girls scream for you?

Well, I figure it doesn’t last, so I might as well enjoy it while I can.

Are you nervous at this moment?

I’m a little shaky. I go on stage and then I relax after I start singin’.

Do you ever forget your lyrics?

Sometimes, but no one knows it. They can t tell what I in singin’. anyway. I never rehearse; the band travels with me and knows all my numbers. Of course, I have to rehearse for TV shows and for movies.

Elvis, do you read music?

No. And I can’t play the guitar, either.

What do you do with it if you don’t play it?

Elvis (laughing) I use it as a brace.

Well, your name is listed on the credits of several hit tunes as the author.

How do you write music if you don’t read it?

It’s all a big hoax, honey. I never wrote a song in my life. I get one-third of the credit for recording it. It makes me look smarter than I am. I’ve never even had an idea for a song. Just once, maybe.

When?

I went to bed one night, had quite a dream, and woke up all shook up. I phoned a pal and told him about it. By morning, he had a new song, ‘All Shook Up’.

For more on this interview go to: https://www.elvis.com.au/presley/interview-with-elvis-presley-october-28-1957.shtml

Read More